Toward a National Single-use Plastics Roadmap in Vietnam
World Bank has announced the report “Toward a National Single-use Plastics Roadmap in Vietnam - Strategic Options for Reducing Priority Single-use Plastics”. Reviewers from the Centre for Supporting Green Development (GreenHub), a scientific technological organization under VUSTA, has contributed to the report.
The objective of this report is to present short-term policy options that are implementable in Vietnam over the next five years (2022–2026), and should lead to a significant reduction of the single-use plastics polluting the environment in Vietnam.
Plastic pollution is a prevalent challenge in Vietnam. Globally, plastics are widespread. More than 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans every year, and about 90 percent of global marine plastic pollution comes from just 10 rivers, eight of which are in Asia. In Vietnam, the estimated annual discharge of plastic waste into the ocean is between 0.28 to 0.73 million tons which makes the country one of the world’s major sources of plastic litter.
The government of Vietnam is aware of the environmental threat posed by plastic litter, and the urgent need to take action to reduce plastic pollution. Vietnam is committed to address its solid and plastic waste management challenges through the adoption of national strategies and action plans. Through the 2019 Bangkok Declaration on Combatting Marine Debris, ASEAN member states, including Vietnam, committed to reducing their high levels of marine plastic pollution. ASEAN members also stressed their common aspiration to conserve and sustainably use the oceans and seas, and their marine resources. Through Vietnam’s revised National Strategy on Solid Waste Management, the country has committed to collecting, transporting, and treating 100 percent of non-household waste by 2025, and 85 percent of urban household waste by 2025. On December 4, 2019, Vietnam’s Prime Minister approved Decision No. 1746/QD-TTg, which promulgated the National Action Plan for Management of Marine Plastic Litter by 2030. This plan set targets for reducing marine plastic waste by 50 percent by 2025, and by 75 percent by 2030, as well as eliminating single-use plastics (SUPs) from coastal tourism destinations and marine protected areas by 2030. In response, Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is seeking to improve staff knowledge about plastic waste problems so that the ministry can formulate plastic management policies. In addition, the Law on Environmental Protection 2020, which became effective on January 1, 2022, has introduced “pay as you throw” policies; it requires the segregation of wastes; and it sets out the legal basis for extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes. Vietnam has also set targets for phasing-out SUPs. On January 1, 2026, production (for domestic consumption), as well as imports of non-biodegradable plastic bags will be banned. In addition, the decree directs Provincial People’s Committees (PPCs) to restrict the distribution and use of SUPs in shopping centers, supermarkets, hotels, and tourism areas, starting in 2025.
While these are important steps toward reducing plastic pollution in Vietnam, the rising tide of single-use plastic waste requires developing and implementing a roadmap of policy options to guide the country toward gradually phasing out SUPs, while also minimizing the negative impact on producers and consumers.
The draft National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP) Action Roadmap for “Radically Reducing Plastic Leakage in Viet Nam” estimates that by 2030, the reduction and substitution of plastics through elimination, reuse, and new delivery models, as well as the substitution of plastics with suitable alternatives would lead to the replacement of 1.66 million tons of plastics. Based on 2018 levels, this would be a 22 percent reduction of plastic leaking into Vietnam’s waterways. If implemented, the policy options recommended in this report should contribute significantly to reaching this goal. The roadmap of policy options presented in this report is based on the principle that a smooth, gradual transition is required for Vietnam to achieve (or even bring forward) the 2031 ban on SUPs that is delineated in Decree 08/2022.
The three most common SUPs that are targeted in this report’s proposed roadmap are non-degradable plastic bags, expanded polystyrene (EPS) food containers, and plastic straws. The other SUPs in the roadmap are those used in food take-away, catering, and tourism businesses. In summary, these SUPs were chosen based on international good practices, and the availability of single-use or multi-use alternatives at a reasonable cost.
The policies proposed include: restrictions on the distribution of SUP straws and drink stirrers; restrictions on the use of certain SUPs for onsite consumption in food establishments; restrictions (through voluntary agreement) on the use of plastic disposable cutlery by online food delivery providers; restrictions on the distribution of SUP toiletry products in hotels; restrictions on the use of certain SUPs in tourist establishments and/or areas. The price policies proposed include: fees charged to consumers when they purchase non-degradable plastic bags; fees charged to consumers when they purchase coffee-to-go cups Preliminary economic analysis shows that fees such as a charge on plastic bags could generate significant environmental benefits and have a benefit-to-cost ratio greater than one. Several types of bans can be applied include: a market ban (through a ban on sales or production and imports) of plastic straws and drink stirrers; a market ban (through a ban on sales or production and imports) of non-degradable plastic bags; a market ban (through a ban on sales or production and imports) of EPS food containers.