Consumer goods firms step up to improve packaging waste management

11:45 | 29/01/2021 Environment

(VEN) - The need for those creating the problem being part of an effective solution was stressed at a recent workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City. The January 20 workshop was attended by government representatives, businesses, academics and other stakeholders. .

They exchanged views on implementing the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) mechanism in Vietnam as introduced by the recent revision of the Law on Environmental Protection (LEP).

Discussions revolved around international experiences with existing EPR systems in Europe and around the globe, as well as practical tools and guidelines to implement such mechanisms.

The revised Law on Environmental Protection in Vietnam outlines the basic principles of an EPR mechanism, which requires companies to be responsible for collecting and recycling used plastic packaging, in equivalent targeted amounts of what they put on the market.

Implementing the EPR can contribute to better management of plastic packaging and deal with the serious problem of uncollected and non-recycled plastic waste leaking into the ocean as marine litter.

“The companies, as a part of the problem and as a part of the solution, will have to be responsible for collecting packaging waste and recycling the packaged products they put on the market”, said Phan Tuan Hung, Director of the Legal Affairs Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE).

“EPR schemes help enhance financial flows and multi-stakeholder partnerships that are important to boost the collection and recycling rates of plastics. We are working closely with key stakeholders, especially the business sectors to identify practical and feasible regulations in drafting the EPR Chapter in Decree guiding the LEP to achieve better management of packaging waste in Vietnam,” he added.

Rui Ludovino, First Counsellor at the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, said: “Mobilising industry for a circular economy, in which resources are used and managed in a more efficient and sustainable manner through the principles of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle,” is a cornerstone of EU policies in the spirit of the European Green Deal. It is at the same time a global endeavour. We are delighted to cooperate with MoNRE and all stakeholders to take steps towards efficient plastic waste management in Vietnam to reduce marine plastic litter.”

The workshop was part of the ongoing cooperation between MoNRE, the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the project “Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter”, which is being implemented by Expertise France in Vietnam.

As a next step, a dedicated handbook on issues relating to packaging waste management will be released by the project to provide a guiding reference to Vietnamese companies and other stakeholders.

Key findings

Key findings of research on the role and current situation of informal and semi-formal waste workers in six Vietnamese cities and their possible integration into the EPR system were presented at the workshop.

“The informal and semi-formal sector is the backbone of today’s separate collection and recycling value chains in Vietnam. Enabling exchange and an enhanced understanding between consumer goods companies, recyclers and informal waste workers is crucial to improving packaging waste management”, said Dr. Fanny Quertamp, the “Rethinking Plastics” project manager in Vietnam.

To learn from practical experiences, the project is also supporting a pilot initiative in Ho Chi Minh City that aims to increase the collection, sorting and recycling of plastic packaging to reduce its environmental leakage. It is implemented jointly by the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) and the Hanoi Architectural University (HAU).

Several stakeholders are working on guidelines to classify and measure plastic packaging collection and recycling in rural and urban areas, improve waste sorting at source and define best practices, the workshop heard.

“Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter” supports a transition towards a circular economy

for plastics in seven countries in East and Southeast Asia towards effecting a significant reduction in marine litter. The

project is co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and

Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and

Expertise.

My Phung