“Plastic is a very interesting material,” says 30-year-old Pau Son as he puts his books about Big Data Analysis on the table. “It is flexible and malleable, it can expand and transform, with heat”. Born and raised in Yangon, Pau Son is the mastermind behind Shin Thant Upcycled, a family business established in 2016 that is committed to upcycling plastic waste.
It is difficult to put a label on Pau Son. He is an inventor, always looking for ways to improve his methods and make them more efficient, tweaking machines, learning new tricks; he is a self-educated polymath who refused to attend university but is an avid reader, interested and fluent in topics ranging from Astrophysics to Linguistics and Cartography; he is a Myanmar millennial with an unwavering passion for gaming; but most importantly, he is an artisan, a maker with an eye for design and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Pau Son grew up in a pre-plastics Myanmar: “I remember when people used to pack their Mohinga with leaves” he recalls. Nowadays, however, plastics are everywhere. According to a 2019 study by Thant Myanmar and Fauna and Flora International, 119 tons of plastic enter the Ayeyarwady River every day.
“Plastic should not be waste, to begin with,” says Pau Son. The battle against the ubiquitousness of the use of plastic in Myanmar is one that Shin Thant Upcycled cannot fight alone. It is up to every single one of us to fight that battle, together. However, Shin Thant Upcycled is leading the way in upcycling plastic waste, using good design and simple technology to give old plastics a second life.
Based in Yuzana Gardens, the mother-and-son team uses heat to fuse the carefully washed plastic waste collected in Yangon, coming from commercial as well as from industrial sources, creating unique, beautifully textured and colored materials that are then transformed into trendy laptop cases, clutches, cardholders, notebooks, wallets, bags, and lampshades.
Shin Thant Upcycled products can be found exclusively at Hla Day on 81 Pansodan Street, a non-profit social enterprise that sells contemporary crafts made by Myanmar artisans.
Address: No.81, 1st Floor, Pansodan Street, Middle Lower Block, Yangon
Tel: 09 452 241 465
Hours: 10am – 9:30pm