Myanmar monk leads crusade against plastic waste
January 18, 2022

Myanmar monk leads crusade against plastic waste

YANGON (MYANMAR) – A prominent Buddhist monk in Myanmar is waging a battle against plastic waste generated by residents in his Yangon neighbourhood during the pandemic.

Abbot Ottamasara heads the Thabarwa meditation centre in the Myanmar capital. He was surprised by the response to his plea for plastic containers as a substitute for bowls used by his monastery to feed needy thousands.

His team of volunteers receives several thousand used plastic bottles a day from city residents and some are recycled as food containers and others used as building materials at the meditation centre.

“More plastic waste was being dumped on the street during the pandemic,” said Ottamasara, 51, who started the initiative three months ago after seeing piles of plastic waste on the streets during his jaunts to collect donations.

Myanmar authorities do not organise recycling routinely and close to 2,500 tonnes of trash is generated in the city every day.

“If we (the meditation centre) ask for donations, people will keep them clean,” the monk said. “Then we can use these plastic bottles as food containers and it not only saves money, but also tackles the plastic waste issue.”

He said 200,000 plastic bottles have been recycled so far, saving around $10,000.

The meditation centre spread across nine acres hosts workshops to process the plastic waste.

Plastic bottles are fashioned into sunshades and there is even a shelter using car tyres packed with plastic waste and cement.

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