Plastic waste battle hampered by lack of standards, regulations

13:00 | 31/07/2020 Environment

(VEN) - The draft revised Law on Environmental Protection under consideration by the National Assembly is expected to provide redress for Vietnam’s plastic waste problem. However, high costs and lack of standards for biodegradable bags are a bottleneck in the fight against so-called “white pollution”. Vietnam Economic New’s Thu Huong asked Nguyen Le Thang Long, Director of Research and Development at An Phat Holdings about this issue.

plastic waste battle hampered by lack of standards regulations
Nguyen Le Thang Long, Director of Research and Development at An Phat Holdings

As a strong investor in green technologies, what challenges did An Phat Holdings face when bringing biodegradable bags to the market?

An Phat Holdings faced difficulties in bringing its AnEco branded fully biodegradable bags to the market.

There are many products labeled “biodegradable plastic bags” in the Vietnamese market. In essence, they are ordinary HDPE plastic products with additives for easy decomposition into micro-plastics, which are more dangerous than conventional plastics as they mix with water and soil and are then swallowed by animals and returned to the human food chain. However, consumers do not have enough information about this kind of product and still believe it is harmless to the environment.

Another challenge is that the costs of biodegradable bags are relatively high, as production requires very high standards at international level and the raw materials for production have to be imported.

We also faced some objective challenges, including fees and taxes on non-eco-friendly plastic products. If authorities impose and enforce taxes and fees, the price gap with eco-friendly products will be narrowed and prices will be reasonable given the benefits of fully biodegradable products.

In your opinion, what do we need to do to help consumers identify biodegradable bags?

First, we need to raise people's awareness and provide instructions on the best use of biodegradable bags. In addition, we propose that state management agencies quickly issue regulations for biodegradable products, including standards and the proportion of ingredients that are considered to be partially biodegradable or fully biodegradable,. An Phat Holdings is willing to accompany, coordinate and support management agencies in building standards, regulations as well as technical barriers for these products.

What steps will An Phat Holdings take to provide the market with biodegradable products at competitive prices?

In order to have competitive prices, we must take initiatives and be active in preparing raw material sources. So far, An Phat Holdings Group has completed research on biodegradable compound materials. It is planning to build a plant using biological materials by 2021, with completion in 2022 at a capacity of 20,000 tonnes of products a year with an investment of nearly VND1.5 trillion. This plant will help enhance An Phat Holdings’ production and reduce product prices. This will certainly contribute to promoting the biodegradable product market in Vietnam.

Thu Huong