The Garbage economy, what Vietnam is missing
About 3.9 million tonnes of PET, LDPE, HDPE and PP plastic are used in Vietnam each year. Of these, only 1.28 million tonnes (33 percent) are collected for recycling (CFR). Thus, Vietnam discards up to 2.62 million tonnes of plastic every year, leading to a loss of 75 percent of the material value of plastic, equivalent to US$2.2 – 2.9 billion per year. The IFC-WB report on “Plastics Circularity Opportunities and Barriers” estimated that if all the plastics used in Vietnam were collected and recycled, the total annual value of the recycled products and materials would be equivalent to US$3.4 billion.
Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam said the rapid urbanization and the expanding middle class have significantly increased the consumption of plastic products and packaging, turning emerging markets in the region, including Vietnam into hot spots of plastic pollution. As investment in waste management infrastructure has not kept pace with waste discharge, the public and private sectors need to work together to address this complex economic, environmental and social issue, while formulating policies and increasing investment to help make the most use of the value of plastic materials, she said.
Vietnam T-tech Technology Corporation Chair Dr. Nguyen Dinh Trong attributed the low recycling levels to inefficient classification of waste at the source, small-scale operations using outdated technology, and low-quality recycled products.
“In addition, the financial policy barrier, the low unit prices of recycling domestic waste and interrupted supplies as Vietnam is still heavily dependent on plastic scrap imports have not encouraged enterprises to join in this business”, Dr. Nguyen Dinh Trong added.
The waste collection and classification model for recycling needs to be replicated
Promoting the circular economy
According to IFC experts, in order to avoid wasting this “junk resource”, Vietnam needs not only to reuse waste, but also connect economic activities to create circulation. Recycling plastic not only solves the problem of plastic pollution, but also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save valuable raw materials, improve capacity and reduce capital costs of future solid waste management and disposal options.
The IFC and World Bank also recommended effective policies for low-value disposal plastic products for which there are no suitable alternatives, including bans and restrictions on bringing them into the market, and imposing fees and taxes on consumers, manufacturers, or importers. Particularly, recycled content must be encouraged, starting with preferential policies, followed by norms/standards of recycled content for the largest plastic users. The government can play a leading role by implementing green public procurement (GPP) and labeling recycled plastic products.
In addition, Vietnam needs to increase the efficiency of plastic waste collection and classification as well as improving transparency of plastic market data, as well as providing financial support to recycling projects. It also needs to adopt specific requirements to help increase plastic waste collection and recycling rates as well as increasing mechanical and chemical recyclability and discourage disposals of plastic waste, according to the report’s authors.
Increasing the economic benefits of plastic recycling will help mobilize more private sector investment to
tackle the perils of plastic pollution, and support key industries such as tourism, shipping and fishery which
are being hit hard, according to a new report by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation
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