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Vietnam Needs Large-Scale Recycling Using Plastic Waste as Resource, Official Says

On October 22, a conference on preventing plastic waste was held in Hanoi by the Vietnam Association for Community Health Education (VACHE), which presented potential amendments to the current environmental protection law for debate.

According to Nguyen Thi, an official from the Legal Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the environment, new laws and policies should consider waste as a resource, VietnamNet reports.

Citing the World Bank, Thi stressed that on average, each Vietnamese household uses 35 plastic bags every week, which means that the country consumes 938 million nylon bags weekly. These plastic bags used in domestic households usually end up being buried in garbage dumps. Recycling activities for this type of domestic waste occur on a very small scale, mostly focusing on recyclable waste, and largely depend on informal and unofficial waste collectors.

A study conducted by the Ministry of Construction concluded that plastic accounts for 12–16% of all waste in garbage dumps in Saigon, Hanoi, Bac Ninh Province and Hue. Thi said that while the current law covers waste management sufficiently, enforcement is left to local administrations. This leads to uneven efficiency of waste management in different locales, the news source shares.

Thus, Thi proposed prioritizing recycling and reducing production as a way to create a more sustainable economy.

“Policies should consider waste as resources, including toxic waste that can be recycled, industrial waste and domestic waste. There should be two separate legal frameworks for organic and plastic waste,” she stated, adding that there should be more regulations on waste classification, reusing and recycling plastic waste.

In early October, Xinhua reported that Vietnam’s plastic imports saw an increase in the first nine months of the year, despite recent anti-plastic efforts. Vietnam News also reports that the national plastic industry is confident in its future growth and exports.

Experts agree that research and policies that help to improve the life cycle of plastic will be a more realistic effort than complete removal. Hence, policies that favor businesses doing waste recycling and encourage companies and factories to collect their own waste are much needed.