Vietnam mobilizes to fight “white pollution”

06:00 | 21/07/2020 Environment

(VEN) - Vietnam is mounting a nationwide drive to mobilize its nearly 100 million people for the fight against the “white pollution” generated by plastic waste.

vietnam mobilizes to fight white pollution

Two-pronged strategy

According to a special 2018 UN report, Vietnam ranked 17th out of 109 countries with the highest level of plastic waste pollution in the world, with its unusually long coastline a conduit for approximately 730,000 tonnes of plastic waste dumped in the sea every year.

Given the pervasive use of plastic by tens of millions of people, authorities are adopting a two-pronged strategy - to develop the recycling industry and to raise wide public awareness of the importance of recycling and of shifting to plastic alternatives.

Plastic is convenient and cheap, contributing to its indiscriminate use and discarding, with urbanization and population growth significantly exacerbating the problem. According to a report by the Vietnam Urban Environment and Industrial Zone Association, the waste generated in Vietnam increases an average of 12 percent annually. The highest growth of solid waste is recorded in major cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Hai Phong.

In Hanoi, the daily average amount of domestic waste is about 5,500-6,000 tonnes, of which 8-10 percent is plastic waste. Meanwhile, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Natural Resources and Environment, of the 9,000 tonnes of daily life waste generated in the city, 1,800 tonnes are plastic and nylon waste.

Creative solutions

According to Marie-Lan Nguyen Leroy, an environmental expert from the French Development Agency (AFD), domestic waste in France is classified at source and treated, recycled or burned to generate either electricity or microbial fertilizer. In Vietnam, waste is not classified and the humidity is very high, making it difficult to use incineration technology. Currently, 80-90 percent of Hanoi’s daily 700,000 tonnes of domestic waste is buried or burned. Both methods cause water, soil and air pollution.

There are many plastic waste treatment models in the world from which Vietnam can learn. In Japan, Pet Refine Technology (PRT) processes waste into recycled materials, with the resulting products widely exported, especially to China. In Austria, a company has applied a high-tech solution that uses plastic-eating enzymes from a fungus to recycle PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics.

However, Nguyen Leroy believes the first priority is for authorities and people to reduce the use of disposable plastic items in their daily lives.

In 2019, Hanoi issued a plan to reduce the use of plastic, setting December 31, 2020 as the target date for businesses to limit production of plastic consumer packaging. Ho Chi Minh City also issued a campaign against plastic waste for the 2019 to 2021 period.

According to experts, in addition to launching an anti-plastic waste movement with the direct participation of the community, the recycling industry must be developed to limit plastic waste in the environment and waste classification must be carried out at source.

Thu Huong