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|Leaders of a raft of top companies and organisations have talked about raising more awareness on reducing plastic use, Chi Cuong|
In order to do that, we try to control the plastic stream starting from the extracting process and manufacturing to consumption. This is an entire process that we need to care for, on how to reduce the number of plastic bags in the environment, and to achieve that we consider designing one of the most important things.
Our colleagues have a say about what they have done throughout the production process and throughout retailing, and also about consumption. We can reduce the use of single-use plastic bags, we can reduce plastic packaging, and we can remove plastic straws from each product. The main thing that we will do is work together to reduce plastic and even apply new ways in terms of biodegradable plastic. We should also be careful as microplastics may become more of a problem.
Next year, the prime minister will issue a national plan for the circular economy and it will require our committee to integrate it into the strategy and planning of different ministries, industries, and provinces.
The second thing we require is that enterprises will have to incorporate a circular economy into their production chains. We will have a special circular economy forum for the first time in Vietnam soon, and we will attract a lot of enterprises. The Prime Minister will attend and demonstrate the commitment Vietnam wants in terms of working toward a circular economy to achieve zero waste and net-zero emissions by 2050.
Faster consumption trends
ISPONRE’s responsibility is to facilitate and encourage public cooperation to implement the Law on Environmental Protection. And we also carry out a number of different campaigns to encourage businesses and the community to participate in reducing plastic.
Recently, we worked with Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade to establish the Plastic Alliance to reduce the use of plastic and now we have 16 members. Most of them are large supermarkets like AEON Vietnam and other partners.
We encourage enterprises and the community to work actively and voluntarily to take corporate responsibility and to increase their reputations. Enterprises can be very responsible, but we also have additional regulations on extended producer responsibility if they are not. We will require those who produce plastic packaging to collect it back and recycle it. If they cannot do so, they will have to pay for others to do that.
We will continuously increase requirements and enforcement and, in the future, customers and households will have to pay for the waste they dispose of. Anyone who pollutes will have to pay, and if they cannot reduce the amount of waste, they will need to pay the government to collect it.
For our community, we also have a number of programmes raising awareness for students and other consumers to reduce plastic, especially single-use plastic. But in the law, we also have a separate requirement that the collection of waste now will be based on the volume that the customer uses. If they can reuse and recycle, then the amount of waste that they will have to pay for is less and, also, the customer will increase their responsibility and have a better impact on the environment.
We also have to take into account green bonds and green credit. The government can provide a lot of other encouragement for enterprises that take part in reducing the negative impact on the environment.
Lowering plastic use
Over many years, thanks to organisations like the United Nations promoting sustainable consumption and products, some parts of the world have worked intensively and tried to change the behaviour of enterprises and communities. This is where establishing groups like the Plastic Alliance come in.
In the food and beverage industry, we can encourage a reduction in the use of single-use plastic, including straws. But it can be tough to encourage companies and they can become undisciplined when they realise these types of moves will often increase costs.
Despite that, more people are beginning to agree that it is the right thing to do and so, working together, we will be able to achieve the objectives set for this decade. This year we celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the UN Environment Programme, and we are committed that humanity should work together for the good of the environment.
Companies that want to go green or already carry out green processes will be encouraged and will be a priority for investment in Vietnam. We also have a number of other incentive ideas, like the aforementioned green bonds and green credits, to encourage firms to participate in the green economy and reduce emissions as well as plastic use.
Next year will be big for Vietnam and the world as we work closely together to discuss the ways companies and the local government can help implement the Law on Environmental Protection.
Many enterprises are concerned because of the cost to their business. But from now to 2030, I’m sure that as we work together, more firms will transition to new strategies that help reduce the use of plastic and towards a greener economy.
* Assoc Prof. Dr. Nguyen Dinh Tho General director Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment