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Environment Ministry Officials Propose Plastic Bag Tax

Would it help break Vietnam's plastic addiction?

VnExpress reports that Vo Tuan Nhan, Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, has recommended increasing the cost of plastic bags in order to deter people from using them.

The current highest tax rate for single-use plastic bags is VND50,000 per kilogram, which Nhan believes is too low. His ministry estimates that Vietnamese families use up to seven such bags every day.

"This is because plastic bags are not only convenient, but really cheap," the news sources quoted Nhan saying at a conference in the capital last week. "At any wet market in Vietnam, we can see that even before buyers ask for it, vendors have already put the purchased good in a plastic bag."

The official also suggested that a consumption tax on plastic bags be put in place, though he did not offer precise figures on such a move. Other policies, such as preferential tax incentives for producers of environmentally friendly products, will also be considered.

The government isn't alone in calling for action against plastic. Experts at a recent conference advised authorities to implement strong anti-plastic regulations, while another such event saw attendees discussing the need for a nationwide plastic recycling initiative.

Some localities within the country are taking steps to address the problem. Government agencies in Hoi An, for example, have been ordered to not use single-use plastic products during meetings and events by the end of this year, while such products will be banned from traditional markets in the town by the end of 2021.

Further south, officials in Saigon have ordered supermarkets, shopping malls, convenience stores and bookstores to switch from plastic bags to less damaging alternatives by next year.

These initiatives are all part of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's call for stores, markets and supermarkets nationwide to be plastic-free by 2021.