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Banana leaves replace plastic bags as Vietnam tackles waste problem

Strong government, business actions

Vietnam generates an annual average of 1.8 million tonnes of plastic waste, including more than 30 billion plastic bags. These, while convenient for consumer use and for manufacturer packaging, directly affect the quality of human lives and other living species.

The most dangerous characteristic of plastic waste is its persistence. Even when buried in the soil, they survive for hundreds, even thousands of years, preventing the soil from retaining water and nutrients and oxygen from passing through the soil. This has a disastrous effect on crops and livestock.

In response, Vietnam has issued relevant laws and decrees to serve as the legal basis for the management and treatment of plastic waste in general, and in the sea in particular.

The business sector has also mobilized in response to the call of international environmental organizations to limit the use of plastic products and non-biodegradable plastic bags, especially single-use plastic products, and replacing them with other types of environmentally friendly bags. Most supermarkets in big cities and provinces have committed to stop the use of plastic bags and instead use banana leaf wrapping. Some airlines have also committed to use environmentally friendly products on their flights.

Nine leading companies in the field of consumer goods and packaging have formed the Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam (PRO Vietnam) to contribute to a green and clean Vietnam. PRO Vietnam will support the development of a domestic packaging collection and recycling ecosystem strong enough to increase the recycling rate and reduce the rate of packaging discharged into the environment.

Sustainable development

According to Nguyen Que Lam, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands (under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), due to the nature of global trade that contributes to plastic waste and the flow of plastic waste into the oceans, the challenge of plastic pollution and ocean plastic waste is global in nature. No country can adequately address the various aspects of the challenge alone.

Consumers are getting into the habit of saying “no” to plastic bags

Therefore, it is necessary to issue a global treaty, aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on a shared vision, relevant indicators and specific measures. It is a balanced international cooperation framework that consists of coordinated actions with the participation of all parties, taking into account the specific conditions and needs of countries in order to address ocean plastic pollution.

The fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) that took place from February 28 to March 2, 2022, was themed “Strengthening action for nature to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. More than 100 UN member countries, including Vietnam, discussed an overall framework for the first global treaty on plastic pollution control.

According to Lam, Vietnam supports and is ready to work together with related countries and parties in building the treaty on the basis of respecting international law, within the framework of the UN, for a clean ocean and sustainable development of the world.

High-income countries use the most plastics but regulation and waste management systems limit the release of

plastics into the environment to some extent, whereas developing countries often lack robust waste management

systems even as they rapidly adopt western consumption patterns.

Thanh Tam

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