Supporting action to curb plastic pollution

June 14, 2022 | 10:00
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Vietnam is promoting economic restructuring in association with the development of a green and circular economy. Vu Minh Ly, deputy director of the Communication Centre for Environmental Resources at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, talked with VIR’s Phuong Thu about the efforts in terms of reducing plastic waste for sustainable development.

How do you evaluate the current situation of efforts to reduce plastic waste in the country?

Supporting action to curb plastic pollution
Vu Minh Ly, deputy director of the Communication Centre for Environmental Resources at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Vietnam is a developing country with many major economic, commercial, tourist, and industrial centres with an increasingly high economic growth rate. Recognising the importance of solving the problem of plastic pollution and ocean waste, the government pays special attention to and tries to solve it through fundamental reforms in policies and laws on marine pollution and environmental protection. The government has also issued many policies directed at Vietnam’s determination to reduce plastic waste. These include approval of the Law on Environmental Protection, which legislates plastic-related contents such as management, reuse, recycling, treatment, and development of a circular economy model of plastics; and promulgation of the National Action Plan on Ocean Plastic Waste Management towards 2030 to increase awareness and actions to reduce single-use plastic and pay more attention to recycling and reuse.

In 2021, Vietnam set specific objectives in which the nation aims to use 100 per cent of environmentally-friendly plastic bags and packaging at shopping malls and supermarkets by 2025. It also aims for 100 per cent of tourism areas to avoid use of single-use plastic products, barely degradable plastic bags, as well as the gradual reduction of single-use plastic products and hardly degradable plastic bags in daily activities.

After three years of implementing an anti-plastic waste campaign across Vietnam, there are many achievements already. We see the innovation of governmental agencies and businesses, especially young people, related to plastic waste. Localities have developed and issued action plans to make Vietnam free of single-use plastic by 2025.

What can Vietnam do to craft a roadmap of technology solutions and investment in terms of separation at source, reusability, plastic recycling, and use of biodegradable materials?

Transition cannot happen overnight. I think it is necessary to support the state in taxes and incentives for businesses. Instead of taxing the producer, levy the consumer.

This year is of great significance to Vietnam when the revised Law on Environmental Protection in 2020 officially came into effect. The law has outlined the specific responsibilities of manufacturers and distributors in recalling, classifying, recycling, or paying for the disposal of discarded products based on market volume.

The law accelerates the completion and promulgation of preferential mechanisms and policies to support the promotion of the environmental industry, including the recycling industry, as well as promulgate technical regulations and standards. These promote the development of the market for exchanging by-products and waste products to connect the chain between disposal, recycling, and reuse so that waste becomes a secondary resource in the closed-loop system of the new production cycle.

As a management agency governing natural resources and the environment, what guidelines and orientations have the ministry given to all staff?

We have taken the lead in the movement to prevent plastic waste, using metal water bottles to replace disposable plastic water bottles, and launched the emulation movement “Action to reduce plastic and plastic pollution”. This calls on each officer, public employee, and others to take action and mobilise family and relatives to say no to plastic products and single-use nylon bags.

Plastic waste is always a difficult problem to solve, not only in Vietnam but also in all countries around the world. Under pressure and negative impacts from plastic waste, it is essential to apply a circular economy to the plastic industry in order to recycle and reuse the amount of plastic discharged into the environment.

By Phuong Thu

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