Hanoi tackles plastic waste

13:00 | 12/11/2020 Environment

(VEN) - The Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment will coordinate with the municipal Department of Industry and Trade to introduce environmentally friendly products to raise public awareness of the damage caused by plastic waste and promote change in the habit of using plastic bags and non-biodegradable plastic products.

hanoi tackles plastic waste
Banana leaves are substituted for plastic food wrap at many supermarkets

Environmental problems

The amount of domestic waste generated in Hanoi ranges from 5,500-6,000 tonnes per day, with plastic waste accounting for 8-10 percent. Because plastic waste is difficult to decompose, it has serious and long-term consequences on the soil, groundwater and ocean environment. For example, a plastic water bottle can last up to 10 centuries.

Plastic melts easily and can dissolve into food, with toxins accumulating over time and triggering disease. In addition, plastic mixes in the water, preventing oxygen that aquatic organisms need to breathe. These toxins can also be swallowed by organisms such as fish, and eventually find their way into the human body. In addition, improper burning of plastic contributes to the greenhouse effect and thus to global warming.

In response, the Hanoi People’s Committee has issued a plan on prevention and control of plastic waste and nylon bags, with a vision to 2025. Accordingly, since November 2019, agencies, unions and units directly under the City People’s Committee have not used nylon bags and disposable plastic products.

hanoi tackles plastic waste
Plastic bottles can last for 10 centuries

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment not only cooperates with the Department of Industry and Trade in urging supermarkets, shops, and businesses to replace nylon bags with environmentally friendly products, but also coordinates with Tetra Pak Vietnam Joint Stock Company, Lagom Vietnam Joint Stock Company, and a number of recycling units on collection, sorting and recycling milk cartons at Hanoi schools.

From 2019, 19 out of 30 districts and towns have registered to participate in this program for the collection of milk cartons at 803 schools. The total volume of milk cartons collected at schools until July 2020 was 244,061 kg, equivalent to 25 million cartons. The program has contributed to the reduction of over 244 tonnes of waste in the city’s central landfill.

hanoi tackles plastic waste

Comprehensive measures

Despite some positive achievements, it is hard to change people’s habits and some localities do not take drastic measures to minimize plastic waste.

According to Associate Professor, Dr. Bui Thi An, Vice President of the Hanoi Union of Science and Technology Associations, reducing plastic waste is a difficult problem requiring comprehensive solutions and community engagement. Alternative materials must be found and consumer awareness about plastic waste must be raised. State agencies also need to have mechanisms and policies for each economic sector from the research stage, through production and use.

However, changing production technology is a complex undertaking. In the textile and footwear manufacturing sector, for example, 90 percent of waste is plastic. Therefore, the state needs to support manufacturers seeking to change technology either through tax incentives or by buying technology from abroad for domestic businesses.

Pham Cao Thang, Deputy General Director of Hanoi Urban Environment Company said policies on export tax, premises, and price subsidies for waste treatment that the market cannot regulate will contribute to promoting effective garbage sorting, collection, recycling and reuse.

According to Trinh Thi Ngan, representative of the Hanoi Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, businesses

must be given zero interest loans for environmentally friendly packaging, and supermarkets using environmentally

friendly bags should enjoy corporate income tax reduction.

Tam An