Solid waste management is everyone’s business

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  • Waste not, want not. This old saying rings true even today, as global leaders and local communities alike increasingly call for a fix for the ‘throw-away culture’. But beyond individuals and households, the issue of waste also represents a broader challenge that affects human health and livelihoods, the environment, and welfare.
    According to a 2012 World Bank report, Myanmar produces 5,616 tons of solid waste per day, which amounts to 0.44 kilograms per person.
    The number is expected to reach 0.85 kg by 2025, driven by an increase in consumption and growth in urban population, and lack of effective waste treatment.
    Local authorities in the regions and states are carrying out clean-up programs to combat the waste issue. But, we need to do more. We need a system that can go beyond visible cleanliness.
    Solid waste management is a universal issue that matters to every single person in the world. And with over 90 per cent of waste in low-income countries being dumped openly or burned, it is the poor and the most vulnerable who are disproportionately affected.
    As the population increases, natural resources are over-extracted, waste is improperly disposed, emissions from factories increase, water, land, and air become polluted, the natural environment is degraded, and problems related to climate change are encountered.
    These pose major challenges to sustainable development and severely hinder efforts to reduce poverty.
    It has been found that waste is not traditionally separated at the source — our homes, offices, or businesses — before it goes into a collection bin.
    We need to educate people to practice waste management in homes or offices, prior to garbage collection and transportation.
    In the majority of towns in Myanmar, there is no formal mechanism for processing and disposing waste. This means trash is dumped — anywhere and everywhere.
    To counter this problem, trash bins must be installed at regular intervals along the streets and in public places in the cities. Waste bins must be emptied by trash collectors on a daily basis.
    The collected waste must then be disposed of properly, according to the standard operating procedures.
    Moreover, reusable waste can be separated and recycled for further useful applications.
    Solid waste management is everyone’s business. Ensuring effective and proper solid waste management is critical to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.
    Therefore, waste needs to be disposed efficiently in accordance with the present time and system.
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