What lessons about green development and sustainable development in Japan has AEON Vietnam successfully applied in Vietnam?
|Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hue
Some 20 years ago, supermarkets in Japan also faced pressure when charging fees for using plastic bags. In the early stages, many consumers reacted because they felt their benefits were being imposed upon.
Vietnam does not have mandatory policies on using environmental bags, and all supermarkets are still providing free plastic bags. Therefore, charging fees for using plastic bags like advanced countries will cause a reaction because consumption habits have not changed, which is also a challenge for us when implementing programmes to promote sustainable consumption.
We have thought about many different options so that consumers do not need to consider the cost. Since the first general merchandise store in Vietnam opened its doors in 2014, all of our bags for customers throughout AEON Vietnam’s retail system have been made of biodegradable material.
AEON Vietnam was also the first retailer in the country to implement the ‘rent a bag’ initiative, which lets consumers borrow environmental bags for a nominal sum of VND5,000 (20 US cents) per bag and receive a refund when they return it on their next visit.
Other initiatives include giving customers VND1,000 (4 US cents) on each “green” receipt; or our Greenline, a priority payment counter for customers who support sustainable shopping and consumption habits.
Since April 2020, AEON Vietnam recorded a reduction of more than 11 million biodegradable bags (equivalent to more than 3.6 million transactions) throughout the system.
We also stopped distributing disposable plastic products such as straws, cups, bowls, and plates, replacing them with products with similar functions made from environmentally friendly materials such as paper, rice flour, corn starch, and bagasse. Besides this, AEON Vietnam also contributes to environmental protection through tree planting activities. The Homeland Forests project and tree planting activities by the AEON Environmental Fund have operated since 2009 and contributed nearly 110,000 trees in many provinces and cities.
What are the roles of retailers in supporting partners and local communities to spread AEON’s green values?
In addition to a series of activities promoting sustainable consumption, AEON Vietnam is successful in connecting and inspiring sustainable development with partners.
We promote the consumption of local products, contributing to greening consumption, reducing negative impacts on the environment, and providing consumers with fresh and nutritious products.
For five years, AEON Vietnam has successfully cooperated with the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of Ho Chi Minh City to organise a Vietnamese goods exhibition programme. Currently, more than 80 per cent of our products are domestic goods in most product groups, and for agricultural produce and fresh foods it is 90 per cent.
We have also been implementing many different activities to promote the consumption of local products. Specifically, we have been promoting support for domestic businesses in trade activities, and connecting supply and demand in the Vietnamese market as organised by localities or the Department of Trade Promotion under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
To improve the capacity of domestic suppliers, AEON Vietnam also implements many annual training programmes to improve staff knowledge and become updated on regulations and standards when bringing goods into supermarkets, with a positive response attendance rate of 97 per cent.
In addition, we also cooperate with domestic manufacturers to research and develop private brands, such as TopValu and Home Coordy, according to AEON standards, ensuring environmental friendliness while providing consumers with quality products at reasonable prices.
This is a way for us to spread our green philosophy and support small domestic manufacturers to participate in the green, sustainable transition process.
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of sustainable consumption programmes that the business has implemented in recent years?
The solidarity and cooperation of many industries and fields is needed to change consumer habits, and AEON Vietnam is ready to accompany other retailers to create a stronger transformation.
Over the years, AEON’s sustainable consumption programmes have received support and companionship from customers, especially young customers in their 30s. Previously, only a few of customers accompanied AEON in environmental-related activities, but now this rate has reached about 6 per cent.
Activities related to green and sustainable consumption are growing rapidly and reaching more customers. However, we need to diversify our experiential activities to draw in more and more customers to accompany AEON in the green transformation journey.
|AEON Vietnam adopts bag rental service to promote green consumption
AEON Vietnam has implemented a bag rental service to boost green behaviour in a bid to pursue its sustainable development goals.