The seminar Defeating Plastic Pollution - Current Situation and Solutions in Vietnam
The seminar "Defeating Plastic Pollution - Current Situation and Solutions in Vietnam" conveyed significant environmental messages that spread throughout the community.
On the morning of June 1st, in Hanoi, the Institute of Environmental Economic Policies (EEPI) collaborated with the Environmental Economics Magazine and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to organize the seminar "Defeating Plastic Pollution - Current Situation and Solutions in Vietnam." This event aimed to commemorate World Environment Day on June 5th, 2023, with the theme "Beat Plastic Pollution."
Attending the seminar on behalf of the Vietnam Environmental Economics Association were Associate Professor Dr. Luu Duc Hai - Chairman of the Vietnam Environmental Economics Association; Associate Professor Dr. Truong Manh Tien - Member of the Executive Committee of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, Editor-in-Chief of the Environmental Economics Magazine; Associate Professor Dr. Nguyen The Chinh - Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Environmental Economics Association, Director of the Institute of Environmental Economic Policies; Journalist Nguyen Tuong Quan - Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Environmental Economics Association; Professor Dr. Hoang Xuan Co - Head of the Scientific Council, Secretary-General of the Vietnam Environmental Economics Association; Lawyer Ha Huy Phong - Head of the Legislative Committee of the Vietnam Environmental Economics Association, Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Economic Policies...
Among the experts and invited guests were Ms. Hoang Thi Dieu Linh - Head of Waste & Circular Economy (UNDP); Dr. Michael Parsons - Policy Advisor of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Support for the Development of Vietnam-Australia Friendship Relations; Dr. Nguyen Trung Thang - Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategy, Policy, and Environmental Resources; Prof. Dr. Dang Thi Kim Chi - Chairwoman of the Council of Science, Vietnam Union for Nature Conservation and Environment; Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Cong Thanh - Head of the Department of Economics, Resources, and Environment (National Economics University); Associate Prof. Dr. Le Thu Hoa - Former Head of the Department of Economics, Resources, and Environment (National Economics University); Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet - Director of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (Hanoi University of Technology); Ms. Duong Thi Phuong Anh - Deputy Director of the Center for Consulting, Training, and Environmental Resource Services (Institute for Strategy, Policy, and Environmental Resources), along with many delegates and central and local media agencies...
In his opening speech at the seminar, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Luu Duc Hai - Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Environmental Economics, emphasized that climate change has become an urgent global issue. The development of science, technology, and unsustainable economic growth has led to numerous environmental consequences. Every year, World Environment Day (June 5th) selects a pressing issue as its theme, and this year's theme is "Beat Plastic Pollution."
Plastic pollution is a global problem, and plastic waste is causing changes in the living environment and natural processes, reducing the ecosystem's ability to adapt to climate change and directly affecting livelihoods, production capacity, and social well-being.
In the seminar, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Truong Manh Tien - Member of the Executive Committee of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Environmental Economics, shared his insights. He highlighted that plastic is used in the production of various goods and products used in daily life. However, plastic waste takes a significant amount of time to decompose (hundreds to thousands of years). As of 2021, the world has produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic, of which 6.3 billion tons are plastic waste. Only 9% of plastic waste is recycled, 12% is incinerated, and the rest ends up in the environment. Each year, approximately 12 million tons of plastic waste are discharged into the ocean.
In Vietnam, on average, about 1.8 million tons of plastic waste are generated each year, including over 30 billion plastic bags, with 80% of these bags being discarded after single use. Vietnam ranks fourth among the top 20 countries, contributing to 0.28-0.73 million tons per year, equivalent to 6% of the world's total plastic waste discharged into the sea. Plastic waste causes the death of many organisms, and the additives in plastic products can directly affect humans and animals, warned Assoc. Prof. Dr. Luu Duc Hai.
The Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Environmental Economics hopes that through the symposium, social awareness of the current situation and plastic waste policies based on the circular economy approach will be enhanced. Furthermore, appropriate recommendations will be proposed to minimize plastic waste by implementing a circular economy model in Vietnam.
Legal framework - Advantages and challenges
In her presentation at the seminar, Ms. Dương Thị Phương Anh - Deputy Director of the Center for Consulting, Training, and Environmental Resource Services (Institute of Strategy, Policy, and Environmental Resources) highlighted the advancements and challenges in the legal framework for waste management. She mentioned that the waste management policies and regulations have been continuously improved, especially after the enactment of the Law on Environmental Protection 2020. These regulations include waste classification at the source, waste fees based on the generated waste quantity/volume, responsibilities for product recovery and recycling, disposal of packaging waste, and a roadmap to ban single-use plastic products and limit direct landfilling. These measures have contributed to reducing plastic waste.
Furthermore, the government has implemented policies to encourage waste recycling activities, such as incentives for land use, investment capital support, tax incentives, fees and charges, and subsidized prices for environmental protection products and services. Specific regulations have been introduced for the import of scrap materials, including the establishment of an environmental protection fund to mitigate environmental impacts from imported scrap materials used for recycling.
Economic tools for environmental protection have been defined in the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 and Decree 08/2022/NĐ-CP. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is developing regulations on environmental criteria and confirmation for projects eligible for green credit, issuing green bonds, which will serve as a basis for mobilizing resources for environmental protection activities and plastic waste recycling.
Overall, these legal and policy measures aim to create a favorable environment for waste management and promote sustainable practices in Vietnam.
Ms. Duong Thi Phuong Anh - Deputy Director of the Center for Consultancy, Training, and Environmental Resource Services (Institute of Strategy, Policy, and Environmental Resources) presented a paper at the seminar.
"The regulations on waste management in general, and recycling in particular, have made significant breakthroughs in the Law on Environmental Protection 2020. However, there is still a lack of specific and clear regulations and guidelines regarding plastic waste. We have supportive policies for waste recycling, but we lack specific guidelines to access the incentives provided by the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 and related implementation guidelines.
Furthermore, we also lack guidance on selecting recycling technologies and treating solid waste. There is a lack of standards and regulations for recycled products. The regulations concerning the responsibilities of producers, importers, organizations, and individuals in recycling and waste treatment need more specific guidance for practical implementation. It is necessary to issue regulations that create a market for recycled products to compete with products made from virgin plastic," she analyzed.
The role of science and technology
Professor Dr. Dang Thi Kim Chi - Chairperson of the Council of Science, Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, believes that comprehensive management measures are needed to protect the environment from the harm of plastic waste. These measures range from policy guidelines to promotion and encouragement of substitution, reduction, and proper use of plastic materials (especially nylon bags). Promoting reuse and recycling of plastic products aims to create a resource-efficient society and protect the environment and ecosystems.
"It is necessary to enact educational policies that raise awareness of the environmental impacts of plastic waste, implement economic policies such as increased taxes, especially on plastic packaging and hard-to-decompose nylon. Apply technological solutions to minimize the generation of plastic waste. Implement plastic waste recycling technologies using various methods that can handle difficult-to-decompose plastic waste while achieving economic efficiency and environmental friendliness”.
Professor Dr. Dang Thi Kim Chi, Chairperson of the Council of Science, Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, made a statement at the seminar.
According to Prof. Dr. Dang Thi Kim Chi, plastic products and plastic waste are increasingly generating significant negative impacts and environmental pollution due to the lack of proactive control measures. To protect the environment from the adverse effects of plastic waste, it is necessary to implement comprehensive management solutions, including policies and planning for plastic product development. Strengthening education and awareness campaigns, reducing the use of plastic products, and promoting the reuse and recycling of plastic waste are essential. Technological and engineering solutions are crucial and should be encouraged and invested in to achieve practical results and contribute to the sustainable development of the country and community health.
Also at the seminar, Mr. Cao Quoc Hai, Deputy Director of the Startup and Innovation Center in Thua Thien Hue Province, presented solutions to promote practical models and initiatives for reducing plastic waste in Hue City. It is hoped that Mr. Cao Quoc Hai's insights will open up many discussions for managers and businesses in minimizing plastic waste.
Mr. Cao Quoc Hai, Deputy Director of the Startup and Innovation Center in Thua Thien Hue Province, presented his keynote speech at the seminar.
Following the presentation, delegates, experts, and invited guests engaged in discussions on various topics related to the challenges in plastic waste collection, recycling, and disposal, as well as specific policy recommendations. The discussions covered local policies and regulations on plastic waste management, source sorting, and recycling, financial incentives for recycling materials and products, especially those sourced domestically. There were also suggestions for initiatives to minimize single-use plastic waste and promote plastic waste recycling, as well as the feasibility of applying a circular economy model to plastic waste. The discussions emphasized the need for necessary policy mechanisms and their removal to implement a circular economy model for plastic waste and proposals to promote plastic waste collection.
Participants, experts, and invited guests took commemorative photos at the seminar.
The seminar titled "Defeating Plastic Pollution - Current Situation and Solutions in Vietnam" conveyed important environmental messages and created a ripple effect in the community. The seminar also provided a multidimensional perspective for businesses and policy-makers regarding the issue of addressing plastic waste pollution based on a circular economy approach.