Producer responsibility:

Opportunities and challenges for Vietnam

10:00 | 22/09/2021 Environment

(VEN) - Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a provision of the newly enacted Environmental Protection Law, is expected to be an effective solid waste management tool. It will help Vietnam develop a circular economy and promote the development of the environmental industry, producing jobs and yielding great economic and environmental benefits.

Practices from other countries

In the 2003-2016 period, the EPR helped the Republic of Korea achieve a recycling rate of up to 72 percent. The number of businesses carrying out recycling increased and some 10,000 jobs were created.

In South Africa, the EPR came into force in 2004 and has helped the country form a plastic bottle collection and recycling network. Thirty-four recycling companies (PETCOs) have been established and have developed a market for recycled plastics and trained and raised awareness of collection workers. They have increased plastic recycling from 9,840 tonnes (16 percent) in 2005 to 98,649 tonnes (63 percent) in 2018.

EPR will help increase garbage collection, sorting and recycling

Meanwhile, in Chinese Taipei, many charities collect solid waste and sell it to recyclers to raise funds for their activities.

Thus, it is clear that the EPR helps businesses reduce dependence on imported raw materials and improve the competitiveness of secondary raw materials. The EPR also increases the rate of sorted and recycled waste as well as the quality of recycled materials, draws participation of the semi-formal and informal workforce (free laborers) in packaging collection and recycling by improving their working and living conditions.

What is the challenge for Vietnam?

According to Nguyen Hoang Phuong, a legal and policy consultant at E-Policy, a boutique consulting firm in Vietnam, effective EPR requires state agencies to deal with the informal sector comprised of scrapyards and recycling groups from craft villages.

“The countries that succeed in EPR have almost no presence of this informal section. This is a difference and also a challenge for Vietnam,” said Phuong.

In addition, the EPR policy only focuses on packaging waste, while solid domestic waste in general also needs to be effectively collected under the guidance of local authorities.

Pham Van Duc, Deputy General Director of the Hanoi Urban Environment Company (URENCO), said that Vietnam is facing difficulties in waste collection infrastructure, especially unclassified domestic solid waste, while residents and polluters have shown little interest in the problem.

Most importantly, to develop an EPR mechanism, Vietnam needs a clear legal framework and constant interaction with related parties in the private sector. Otherwise, its objectives may not be achieved.

As one of the world’s leading countries in terms of plastic waste discharged into the ocean, Vietnam cannot

stand aside and must implement EPR as part of the 2019 ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris.

Thu Huong