Rangoon to ban plastic bags

Oct 28, 2009 (DVB), Plastic bag factories in Rangoon have been ordered by local authorities to stop production by the end of November or face heavy punishment, as the Burmese government looks to ban plastic bags.

Factory owners have complained however that they are likely to face serious loss of investment given the lack of prior warning about the ban.

There are currently around 150 registered plastic bag factories in Rangoon, as well as a number of unregistered ones. It is not clear what punishment violators of the ban would face.

Myat Thin, administration committee chair of Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone in Rangoon, said that two plastic bag factories located in his zone have been notified about the order.

"A plan to replace plastic bags with another source of wrapper is in place because plastic can harm the environment," he said.

"The Myanmar [Burma] Plastic Industries Association has been appointed to implement the plan."

Myanmar Plastic Industries Association's central executive committee member Hla Win said the group held a meeting yesterday but refused to give details on what was discussed.

Rangoon is following in the footsteps of central Burma's Mandalay and the new capital Naypyidaw, both of which have eliminated plastic bags.

Prior to June this year, Mandalay had looked set to distribute free plastic bags to residents before the proposal was quickly cancelled.

Not all are convinced by the plan, however. A plastic bag factory owner in Rangoon said that it would be difficult to enforce the ban because "plastic bags are basic daily tools used by people".

Similarly, a Mandalay local said that the substitute wrapping would be poorly suited to carrying liquids; a common usage of plastic bags in Burma.

Burmese writer and environmentalist Kyaw Yin Myint said that the move was welcome, but that more needed to be done.

"Just restriction is not enough. Another source to replace the plastic bags should be provided," he said.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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