Sweden offers Vietnam help in shaping a zero waste, circular economy

08:50 | 13/12/2019 MUTRAP Corner

(VEN) - Sweden, a global leader in waste management and recycling, is willing to share its experiences with Vietnam in order to promote its circular economy, said Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Mawe at a workshop themed “Promoting a low-carbon circular economy - a Swedish perspective” held recently in Hanoi. “In a circular economy, we see everything as a resource for something else - waste becomes a resource,” she explained.

sweden offers vietnam help in shaping a zero waste circular economy
Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Mawe

Appropriate transformation

According to Vo Tuan Nhan, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, decades of development based on natural resources and low labor cost yielded many socioeconomic achievements. However, Vietnam is facing challenges associated with natural resources depletion, environmental pollution and climate change, he said. As an appropriate response, Vietnam is pursuing a circular economy to reach sustainable development, Nhan said.

Vietnam has issued many policies on transforming its growth model to reach sustainable development, while strengthening natural resources management and environmental protection, coping with climate change, and enhancing recycling and reuse to facilitate circular economy development.

Vietnam’s circular economy models include paper and metal scrap collection and recycling, recovery of gas from livestock wastes, and cleaner production in super small, small and medium-sized enterprises, Deputy Minister Vo Tuan Nhan said.

Other such models include 1) the eco-industrial park model in the northern province of Ninh Binh, the central coastal city of Da Nang and the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, which have helped save US$6.5 million per year; 2) the “Zero Waste to Nature” initiative by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI); 3) a seafood byproduct processing model; and 4) the Vietnam packaging recycling union.

However, major challenges include Vietnamese businesses’ poor recycling and reuse technology, and people’s habit of using plastic bags and disposable plastic products. Vietnam wishes to receive assistance and cooperation in policy and law construction and improvement, and technology transfer in order to gradually shift to a circular economy.

sweden offers vietnam help in shaping a zero waste circular economy

Lessons from the recycling revolution

Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Mawe said her country is a world leader in waste management and recycling, and the percentage of recycled waste by households has increased from 38 percent in 1975 to 99 percent with the remaining one percent transported to landfills. As a large amount of waste is recycled and used for other purposes, such as biogas and energy, Sweden has now turned into a waste importer, importing more than 2.3 million tonnes of waste per year.

“In a circular economy, we see everything as a resource for something else - waste becomes a resource. Circular economy is good for both consumers and businesses. Companies that are moving in this direction have proved that recycling used products can be more cost effective than creating them from scratch. As a result, production costs are reduced, so that the sale price is also lowered, thereby benefiting the consumer. I hope this is inspiring for Vietnamese businesses,” the ambassador said.

“As one of the most sustainable countries in the world, Sweden is aiming for a zero-waste society. Thanks to the environmental awareness of its citizens, effective policies and incentives by the government and an efficient waste collection system in place, Sweden has made great progress in its ‘recycling revolution’ over the past two decades. Circular economy in a simple way means reduce, reuse and recycle. This also implies changed patterns of consumption. Sweden would happily share its experiences with Vietnam,” Ambassador Mawe added.

Also during the workshop, Tetra Pak - a Sweden-based food processing and packaging solution provider - shared the company’s journey towards a low-carbon, circular economy through environmental protection initiatives. In particular, its key products - carton packages - are made from Forest Stewardship Council certified cartons. The company has recently started field testing paper straws for beverage products in Europe, becoming the first carton packaging company to launch paper straws in the region.

“Today, we should not think about global environmental issues such as climate change and waste in isolation. We need to look at them together. To achieve this, we must complete the circular economy so it takes into account not just recycling and reuse but also the carbon impact of raw materials and manufacturing. This means looking beyond end products to address the full impact of our businesses, from sourcing raw materials to recycling used products. At Tetra Pak, we are working to achieve this by delivering solutions with the lowest carbon footprint and highest efficiency, minimizing the environmental impact on our own operations and working with partners towards circularity for our products,” explained Jeffrey Fielkow, Managing Director of Tetra Pak Vietnam.

Ngoc Han