Grassroots movement Thant Myanmar is urging the public to join the fight against plastic pollution and act towards a cleaner Myanmar. At a media briefing in Yangon today, the group underscored the severity of the problem locally and globally, and the role that individuals play in beating plastic pollution.
The biggest culprit, according to Thant Myanmar, are single-use or disposable plastic items such as plastic bags, straws and bottles, which make up about half of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally every year.
“We use them once and then throw them away. And where do they end up? Materials made of plastic never entirely decompose so they wind up in the toxic mountains of trash we see all around and into our oceans, killing millions of seabirds and marine animals. Over time they break up into tiny particles and pollute our water and food,” said Hanna Helsingen from Thant Myanmar.
Worldwide, only 10 per cent of plastic items are recycled. The rest end up in landfills and bodies of water. More than 80 percent of ocean litter are disposable plastics such as straws and bags. If plastic pollution continues to worsen, conservation experts fear our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. In Myanmar, it is estimated the amount of plastic waste has tripled over the last five years and more than 200 tons of waste enter Myanmar’s waterways every day.
Formed in March 2018, Thant Myanmar (or “Clean Myanmar”) is spearheading initiatives that raise awareness of plastic pollution and mobilize action to reduce plastic waste and littering in Myanmar. Their vision is to see less plastic used and more items reused and recycled by 2025, through strong commitment and engagement among individuals, companies, civil society and government in Myanmar.
“Let us all think about how much disposable plastic we use, how we use it, and which items we can refuse or replace with non-plastic options. We can all be part of the solution through simple lifestyle changes and choices such as refusing a plastic straw or bringing your own bag or basket when you go shopping instead of accepting yet another plastic bag,” said May Thet Htwe from Thant Myanmar.
Thant Myanmar is made up by a diverse group of people from all walks of lives, including different nationalities, backgrounds, ages and professional profiles. Corporate, government and non-government partners include Myanmar Environmental Conservation Department (ECD), the European Union, the French Embassy, Yoma Bank and Yoma Strategic Holdings, Shwe Taung Group, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute (MRTI), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – Myanmar.