Reducing the Amount of Waste in Yangon

03 October 2019

One of the waste problems, Yangon is facing, is the increasing amount of waste. Responsible organizations and NGOs are struggling to make the citizens aware of reducing the amount of waste produced.

“I think the biggest challenge of Yangon is the lack of education in sense of understanding the value of the waste. I mean, education is not about the degrees or masters or diplomas; it is about seeing from very little understanding the value of each item of waste you have in your houses. Reducing is the call for the waste in Yangon, reusing is the next step and the recycling should come on the last of the opportunity.”, said  Ms. Isca Teixeira, Project Architect of Doh Eain.

To educate the citizens reducing waste, many campaigns have been conducted by NGOs and governmental organizations. The celebrities became interested in waste problem and joined to help knowledge spreading. Actress Aye Myat Thu is one of those celebrities who are very active in participation for solving the waste problems. She said, “I have participated in the backstreets cleansing projects led by Doh Eain. I am interested in how to reduce the waste. As I am a citizen living in Yangon since I was born, I have witnessed the increase of waste in the city and want to participate in the problem solving of reducing waste.”

She continued, “We have to consider how to reduce the waste. For example, we can use the reusable bottles instead of the plastic bottles. I got this habit when I have filmed the travel program. If you are difficult to refuse it, you can reduce it. It is true that we can’t stop using plastic. So, we can reduce in many ways such as using reusable bottles or bring the reusable bags when you go to the market.” 

People are using the plastic even when it is not necessary. For example, more and more plastic bags are used in the markets, especially those at the shopping malls. Concerning this shopping behavior, Ms. Isca Teixeira expressed, “We as a citizen, we as a consumer, can change that. We have a lot of power to those market places. We can say no to the plastic; we can teach the businesses how to be better by showing an example or being an example. The true thing is when you go and buy the vegetables in the market, most likely, you will not get it inside of a plastic bag when it was ten years ago. But now, it turns out that everything is put inside of plastic bag. You could use the reusable bags so I think, we as a customer, can change that. If everyone is doing a little bit, if everyone select items that don’t need to be wrapped in plastic and if everyone says no to plastic, we can, step by step, help the entire society and get a change on the consumer behaviors.”

Because of the lack of the practice of waste segregation, it reduces the numbers of recyclable items and more waste is deposited on the landfill. Moreover, about 70% of the total waste is the organic waste and most of the organic waste is deposited on the landfill because people have no idea of recycling it. Actually, the organic waste can be made into soil if it is not mixed with other waste such as plastic.

“Segregation of trash is to see the value of food waste, which is called black gold, because you can make soil. Everything comes from nature can be used to make soil. We don’t want plastic; that’s another problem. By segregating, what happens is that the other waste recyclable becomes very dry and clean.”, said Ms. Jenny Harlen, Co-founder of Bokashi Myanmar.

Both the practices of reducing the non-recyclable waste and segregating the waste are important to apply to reduce the amount of waste deposited on the landfill.  

Thaw Tar Swe Zin