Towards Osaka Blue Ocean Vision - G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter

Myanmar

Actions and Progress on Marine Plastic Litter
Last Update : 2021/02/01

Policy framework

National Action Plan

National Plastic Action Plan will be developed based on a series of pilot scientific field surveys conducted by World Bank to reduce and prevent plastic pollution for a better ecosystem and human health, to improve plastic waste management systems and develop laws, rules and regulations, and directives related to plastic that are applicable for Myanmar with the assistance of the World Bank, the Ministry of Environment Japan (MOEJ) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Legal framework

The Environmental Conservation Law was enacted in 2012 and the Environmental Conservation Rules were promulgated in 2014 respectively. The National EnvironmentalPolicy of Myanmar was launched in 2019 and it provides long-term, strategic guidance for achieving sustainable development with the vision of a clean environment and Goal healthy, functioning ecosystems; sustainable economic and social development, as well as mainstreaming environmental protection and management.
The Myanmar National Waste Management Strategy and Master Plan (2018-2030) was developed and it aims to build capacity for sustainable waste management and promote development of a conducive policy framework and strategies that transit from a conventional waste management paradigm to sustainable waste management based on waste hierarchy and the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle), in cooperation with other national environmental policies.
The mission of the Myanmar National Waste Management Strategy and Master Plan is “to develop and implement a holistic and integrated waste management strategy based on principles of inclusiveness, zero waste, zero emissions and circular economy to achieve a greener, cleaner and healthier environment in Myanmar.”
Focusing on Myanmar’s coastlines, a decree of sustainable development of coastal areas was promulgated in 2018 by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in order to reduce the accumulation of marine debris caused by the loss of fishing gear and waste from hotels and housing along the coastline.

Indicators

The National Waste Management Strategy and Master Plan have identified the six major goals with 13 targets and 59 activities to meet zero waste at 2030. These goals and targets are –

Goal Targets Short-term
(2018-2020)
Mid-term
(2021-2025)
Long-term
(2026-2030)
Goal A – Extending sound waste collectionservices to all citizens and eliminating uncontrolled disposal and open burning (i) Achieve sound waste collection services for all citizens 70 % 85 % 100 %
(ii) Eliminate uncontrolled dumping and burning in cities and mandate the operation of environmentally sound disposal facilities Major City Development Committees (Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw) 50 % of all other Township Development Committees in the country 100 % of all other Township Development Committees in the country
Goal B – Extending sustainable and environmentally sound management of industrial and other hazardous wastes (i) Mandate separate collection and sound treatment of hazardous waste, including infectious medical waste and agro-chemical waste, from non-hazardous waste Major City Development Committees (Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw) 50 % of all other Township Development Committees in the country 100 % of all other Township Development Committees in the country
(ii) Mandate sound collection and environmentally friendly treatment of all industrial waste and agro-chemical waste Major City Development Committees (Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw) 50 % of all other Township Development Committees in the country 100 % of all other Township Development Committees in the country
Goal C – Substantively prevent waste through 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycling) and thereby establish a resource circular society (i) Mandate the development of city waste management strategies and action plans with actual waste reduction targets by all City Development Committee (CDCs) and Township 25 % 50 % 80 %
(ii) Mandate the introduction of targets for diverting food waste from landfills 15 % 30 % 60 %
(iii) Mandate separate collection and set waste recycling targets for industrial, medical and other wastes 15 % 30 % 60 %
Goal D – Ensure sustainable financing mechanisms (i) All City and Township Development Committees conduct full cost accounting for waste service 50 % 75 % 100 %
(ii) All City and Township Development Committees establish cost reflective tariffs for waste management services 25 % 50 % 100 %
Goal E – Awareness Raising, Advocacy and Capacity Building (i) Increase in the number of townships that have implemented standard awareness-raising programmes for their residents 25 % 50 % 100 %
(ii) Increase in the number of schools in townships that have established environmental education programmes for their students 25 % 50 % 100 %
Goal F – Compliance, Monitoring, Enforcement and Recognition (i) City and Township Development Committees establish benchmark performance indicators 50 % 75 % 100 %
(ii) Increase in the number of successful enforcement actions filed against non-compliant entities by City and Township Development Committees 50 % 75 % 100 %

Measures

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) No
Reduce single use plastic (shopping bag, straw, etc.) by regulations or voluntary measures Yes
Restrict microbeads for cosmetics, etc. No
Improve waste management recycling system Yes
Clean-up activity at rivers and coasts Yes
Actions on fishing gear Yes
Capturing trap/filter on drainage/river Yes
Promotion of innovative solutions Yes
Multi-stakeholder involvement and awareness raising Yes
Sharing scientific information and knowledge: R&D and Monitoring Yes
Participate in international cooperation through international organizations, multi-national groups, etc. Yes
Target region supported by your international cooperation initiatives/projects: Southeast Asia Yes
Target region supported by your international cooperation initiatives/projects: Africa No
Target region supported by your international cooperation initiatives/projects: Latin America No

Prevention and reduction of plastic waste generation

  • In June 2019, the Government of Myanmar adopted the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in the ASEAN Region. The recently adopted Myanmar National Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan for Myanmar for 2018-2030 lists plastic as one of the priority waste streams and generally promotes a 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) approach.
  • In order to implement Goal-14 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the National Coastal Resources Management Committee was established in 2016 to step up efforts for conservation of the coasts, implementation of Integrated Coastal Management.
  • With the World Bank’s technical assistance under the Regional Marine Plastics Framework and Action Plan through PROBLUE Trust Fund, plastics policy options and a roadmap (draft) have been developed through the survey and assessment of product alternatives for the top 10 priority plastic items leaking into the environment in Myanmar, which will be included in the national plastic action plan. It identified 14 policy options and grouped them into short-term, mid-term, and long-term measures.
  • State and Regional Plastic Waste Management Plans are developed by State and Region Environmental Conservation Department staff with the cooperation of other relevant departments and stakeholders.

Environmentally sound waste management and cleanup of marine plastic litter

The discharge of plastic waste into the environment has and adverse effect and causes problems globally in the form of marine litter and microplastics. As a party to the Basel Convention, Myanmar has to follow the obligations of the convention on transboundary movement of hazardous and other wastes. The new plastic waste amendments to Annexes II, VIII and IX to the Basel Convention will help to get better control of transboundary shipments of plastic waste and balance in the approach to trade in plastic waste and environmental concerns.

To get better control, manage systematically and to recycle in an environmentally sound manner within our country, importing plastic waste is not allowed but imports of plastic scrap is permitted only under these criteria:

    • Plastic scrap to be imported must be clean, homogenous and ready to be used as raw materials.
    • Recycling factories must have an Approval Letter or Environmental Compliance Certificate of an Environmental Management Plan, Initial Environmental Examination or Environmental Impact Assessment, which is approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

The Embassy of The Netherlands is initiating the Ocean Clean Up Interceptor Deployment in Myanmar Project, which is one of the solutions to prevent plastic from entering the oceans from rivers. Installation and operation of the Interceptor in the mouth of Yangon river could result in the successful collection of plastic waste, contributing to a reduction of plastic waste in oceans. 

Promotion of innovative solutions

Myanmar is participating in the regional chapter of the “Ocean Plastic Turned into an Opportunity in Circular Economy (OPTOCE) Project” with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation(Norad). The project aims to demonstrate that non-recyclable plastic waste can be energy-recovered in local energy intensive industries like cement manufacturing in order to increase in-country plastic-waste treatment capacity, to reduce the leakage of plastics to the ocean and to share lessons learned in a regional multi-stakeholder forum enabling awareness raising, capacity building and replication.

Multi-stakeholder involvement and awareness raising

Stakeholder awareness should lead to efficient and effective involvement in managing marine plastic debris due to the huge number of stakeholders spread out in all regions. In Myanmar, awareness raising and capacity building for local government and communities are conducted by the government, NGOs and other organizations.

Sharing scientific information and knowledge: R&D and Monitoring

A series of pilot scientific field surveys was carried out by the World Bank in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation to enhance the knowledge base on plastic pollution in Myanmar for policy making.
During a scientific survey of fish resources, marine biodiversity and oceanography in Myanmar waters by the Norwegian RV Dr Fridtjof Nansen in 2018, opportunistic sampling for pollution (microplastics and food safety) was undertaken.

Promotion of international cooperation

Regarding international cooperation and commitments, Myanmar signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982. In 1988, Myanmar acceded to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (1973) and the Protocol of 1978. Myanmar entered into the Basel Convention in 2015. Myanmar adopted the Bangkok Declaration on combating marine debris and ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris in 2019.
As strengthening coordination and cooperation at the regional and international level is one of the key success factors for marine pollution mitigation and marine ecosystem protection in the region, Myanmar is participating in many regional projects such as;

  • “Circular Economy and Plastics: A Gap-Analysis in ASEAN Member States project” funded by “Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument” (E-READI).
  • “Strengthening Capacity for Marine Debris Reduction in ASEAN region through formulation of National Action Plans for ASEAN Member States and Integrated Land-to-Sea Policy Approach (Phase1 and 2)” funded by the Ministry of Environment Japan through a JAIF project.
  • “Supporting Marine Debris Reduction in ASEAN Member States, drafting a Regional Action Plan on Marine Debris and Designing National Action Plans on Marine Debris” project with the help of the World Bank through PROBLUE funding.
  • “Ocean Plastic Turned into an Opportunity in Circular Economy (OPTOCE) Project” in cooperation with Norwegian Environment Agency.

Achievements

Prevention and reduction of plastic waste generation

  • The Government of Myanmar endorsed and issued the National Waste Management Strategy and Master Plan (2018-2030) with technical support by UN Environment and IGES/CCET. It emphasizes the importance of holistic waste management promotion, actions to maximize proper collection and disposal of industrial waste, medical waste and other policies and a monitoring framework.
  • State and Regional Plastic Waste Management Plans are developed by State and Region Environmental Conservation Department staff with the cooperation of other relevant departments and stakeholders.

Environmentally sound waste management and cleanup of marine plastic litter

  • In Yangon, Dowa Eco-System Co.,Ltd operates Myanmar’s first controlled landfill facility at the Thilawa Special Economic Zone. The implementation of sanitary landfill is starting in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan.
  • In Myanmar, pollution caused by fishing nets is endangering marine mammals as well as people’s livelihoods and tourism. The Myanmar Ocean Project, which is supported by the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Ocean Conservancy, and National Geographic, surveyed and cleaned up marine habitats around Langann Island, Lampi National Marine Park, and some of the popular dive sites around the Myeik Archipelago. 1,821kg of ALDFG have been removed from sites across the Mergui Archipelago in 2019.
    http://www.myanmarocean.org/

Promotion of innovative solutions

  • Since some entrepreneurs are trying to produce environmentally friendly alternative products for plastics, Nature Myanmar Co. is manufacturing biodegradable organic dining ware from areca leaf. These products can be used instead of plastic containers and utensils. They can withstand heat and cold and people can even use them in microwave ovens. Therefore, these products are safe and hygienic enough to be used in the food industry, substituting the use of plastic to some extent. These products are environmentally friendly as they are natural and will decompose in three or six months naturally, but they are a little bit higher in price than of plastics.
    https://nature-myanmar.com/

Multi-stakeholder involvement and awareness raising

  • State and region Environmental Conservation Department staff conducted 380 awareness raising activities in states and regions from 2019 March to 2020 March with the cooperation of relevant stakeholders and department.
    Awareness raising and capacity building for local government and communities are conducted by government, NGO and other organizations in Myanmar. Thank Myanmar, which is one of the NGOs in Myanmar, conducted the “Need that bag?” campaign and “No Straw” campaigns, which encourage businesses to only hand out plastic bags upon request. The campaigns provide CSOs and community members with in depth understanding of the waste crisis and activate them to become change makers to engage with shop and restaurant owners and the hospitality sector to convince them to change their “plastic bag and plastic straws by default” practice.
    https://www.thantmyanmar.com/en/action

Sharing scientific information and knowledge: R&D and Monitoring

  • A series of pilot scientific field surveys was carried out by the World Bank in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation to enhance the knowledge base on plastic pollution in Myanmar. The surveys find that the top 10 most abundant plastic items leaking into the environment make up 76% of all waste, and the top five plastic items are responsible for 71% of the waste leakage. Plastic bags alone account for over 30% of the plastic pollution. The top 10 most abundant plastic items leaking into the environment in Myanmar are as follows;
(i) Small plastic bags and pcs 30.8%
(ii) Crisp and sweet packages 17.7%
(iii) String & cord (less than 1cm) 10.5%
(iv) Styrofoam (food and other) 7.6%
(v) Plastic pieces< 50cm 4.2%
(vi) Straw cutlery, tray 1.3%
(vii) Medical waste 1.3%
(viii) Caps/Lids 1.2%
(ix) Furnishings 1.2%
(x) Fertilizer Bags 0.9%
  • A study conducted by the Fridtjof Nansen research vessel recently found that micro-plastic particles were widespread, with the highest numbers recorded in the Rakhine area in the shallowest stations. Microplastics were found in 21 out of the 22 Manta trawls of the Leg 3.4a andmost of the items found were less than 5 mm in length.
    http://www.dof.gov.mm/images/department/research/2018411_%20surveyreport_Myanmar_FINAL_BIS.pdf 
  • A survey on plastic pollution in Myanmar conducted by Fauna and Flora International (FFI) in collaboration with Thant Myanmar reveals that 119 tons of plastic wastes enter the Ayeyarwady River every day. The upper and lower Ayeyarwady regions contribute 90 tons of plastic pollution per day and Yangon, Myanmar’s capital, add 29 tons a day. The majority of plastic found in the river is likely to be mismanaged plastic waste.
    https://www.thantmyanmar.com/en/riversurvey

Promotion of international cooperation

  • Myanmar adopted the Bangkok Declaration on combating marine debris and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris and is participating in developing the ASEAN Regional Action Plan on combating marine debris and an ad-hoc, open-ended expert group on marine litter and microplastics.
  • Myanmar is coordinating and cooperating with many development partners, such as the World Bank, Ministry of Environment Japan, Asian Development Bank, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and Netherlands Embassy in combating marine debris.
  • The Ministry of Environment Japan supports Myanmar in monitoring methods for floating litter and floating microplastics training based on the 3rd Myanmar-Japan Policy Dialogue on Environmental issues.

Challenges

  • Due to the lack of available/reliable data on waste generation and management (including marine litter data and recycling sectors/activities), it is difficult for policy makers to develop evidence-based policies to tackle marine litter/plastics issues.
  • There are gaps and challenges in implementing plastic waste management in order to combat marine debris. Development and implementation of a long-term and robust strategy are necessary to prevent marine pollution and debris and promote circular economy approaches.
  • Stakeholder awareness should lead to an efficient and effective involvement in managing marine plastic debris.
  • Promoting collaborative actions with the private sector and industrial associations is necessary to implement measures to address marine debris issues.
  • In tackling marine litter and microplastics, new and innovative financial mechanisms and technical assistance are still necessary to address marine plastic pollution sustainably based on the national context and circumstances.

Contact details

Mr. Hla Maung Thein
Director General, Environmental Conservation Department Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
hlamaungthein.env@gmail.com
dg.ecd@moecaf.gov.mm

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