Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

Garbage and the City

Aung Kyaw Htet The Irrawaddy

Yangon produces 2,387.12 tons of waste every day, or 0.41 kg for every man, woman and child living in the city, according to the Yangon City Development Committee. But with rampant littering across the city, the municipal body says it collects and sorts only 2,057 tons of the total via garbage trucks before unsorted organic and plastic waste is dumped at four landfill sites on the outskirts of the town. Among them are Htein Bin in Hlaing Tharyar Township and Dawei Chaung in North Dagon Township, the two largest, with dumping areas of nearly 150 acres each, according to the YCDC.

The landfills drew attention late last month when a fire broke out at the Htein Bin dumpsite, spreading noxious smoke across the city for several weeks before firemen could bring it under control. Experts say the fire was due to combustion from biological decomposition of unsorted organic waste and prolonged by the mix of plastic waste as well.

Experts warn that the operating lives of the sites will last for only 10 more years. Meanwhile, they estimate that the city’s waste generation will increase four-fold by 2025. Despite the warnings, the city of 7.3 million people has yet to identify other final disposal sites.