Save Yangon: Say No to Plastic Bags

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It is no secret that Myanmar faces a trash disposal issue. In fact, the whole world suffers from waste management problems. With progressively bigger trash-related problems, come increasingly harsher anti-garbage measures. In 2002, Ireland reduced its plastic bag consumption by 94% by imposing a plastic bag tax of 0.33US$[1].

In 2016, France became the first country to ban plastic plates and cutlery to fight climate change.[2] Earlier this month, Sri Lanka banned all plastic bags and disposable products after a garbage crisis that generated 300 deaths.[3] Myanmar is, unfortunately, not excluded from the trash-affected route – and suffers from lack of proper disposal options and education.

Each day, each one of the 5,21 million people in Yangon produce 0,41 kgs of waste[4], amounting to 1981 tonnes of trash per year. In the absence of disposal, many independent, local initiatives arose – united by the common goal of making Myanmar a cleaner place.

Shwe Yamin Oo, local entrepreneur, is the CEO and Founder of RecyGlo – a Start-Up committed to providing environmentally friendly recycling solutions. According to Shwe, the main difficulty in making Myanmar a waste-free place is ensuring individual participation, as the population generally lacks education on how and where to litter, as well as on the importance of recycling.

In order to kickstart change in any sector, we should not focus on the scope of the problem – but rather, on our own personal sphere of influence. In other words, it is not about what could or should be done by others, but it is about what we can do to contribute to social change. It is no different when it comes to trash. As citizens, and main responsible for the waste production, it is our duty to make individual efforts to reduce the amount of trash we generate.

Thankfully, there have been several initiatives in Yangon that make it possible for us to take part in that movement. One of the initiatives being the `No Plastic Bag Day`, pioneered by City Mart Supermarket and marketplace by City Mart – every 5th of the month, and every last Monday and Tuesday of the month, respectively. The idea of “No Plastic Bag Day” is that, instead of taking plastic shopping bags from supermarket, which is to reduce the use of plastic bag amongst shoppers and encourage the shoppers to get use to with habit of using reusable bags while shopping can benefit the environment.

However, everyone can now become the hero by protecting their cities by reducing the use of plastic bag which can damage the environment. Instead of using the plastic bag, you can purchase a City Hero Kit. What’s in the City Hero Kit–Your own water bottle to use instead of plastic water bottle, Recycle bag to go shopping and City Hero badges for anyone who throw trash systematically.

You can buy City Hero Kit at any City Marts in Yangon from September 21. City Mart will use all the money from the selling of City Hero Kit to protect the environment. Only the limited numbers are available for City Hero.

The City Mart initiative is a good start – however, in order to reduce the amount of waste in Yangon, and Myanmar in general, we will need to take action on the issue much more than just once a month. Creating the habit of carrying reusable bags, backpacks or any other container to your monthly shopping spree are one example of small action that can make an impact on the country`s sanitation.


[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/world/europe/31iht-bags.4.9650382.html

[2]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/09/19/france-bans-plastic-plates-and-cutlery/?utm_term=.05f05b3193ca

[3]http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/sri-lanka-bans-plastic-bags-other-disposables-after-garbage-crisis

[4]https://www.mmtimes.com/national-news/yangon/20317-yangon-rubbish-piles-up.html

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