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Hanoi reduces plastic waste from small deeds
Anh Kiet 10:52, 2021/06/20
Plastic waste pollution has been one of the most serious growing global threats over the past few decades.

Two years after the Vietnamese Government launched an anti-plastic waste movement, many specific programs to reduce plastic waste in Hanoi have been rolled out in the community, starting with the smallest deeds.

Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, a Hanoian from Nam Tu Liem district, said that her children drink canned milk every day, and her daughter wondered why the manufacturer now uses paper straws instead of plastic ones.

“I explained to her that this change will help reduce plastic waste and protect our living environment. Millions of disposable plastic straws will cause severe pollution,” Huong told The Hanoi Times.

Sorting waste at the garbage exchange point in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District. Photo: Thanh Tung

Plastic waste pollution has been one of the most serious growing global threats over the past few decades. One of the main contributors is plastic bags and disposable plastic products.

“I also reminded my children of the regulations on wrapping books and notebooks. Students no longer use plastic covers textbooks and notebooks, because they are aware of the harmful effects of plastic waste," Huong said.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) have recently signed a cooperation program on environmental protection for the period of 2019-2025, with a view of promoting environmental protection, teaching students about reduction, collection, classification, reuse, recycling and treatment of solid waste, and curbing the use of single-use plastic products and plastic bags that are difficult to decompose.

Pham Van Duc, Deputy General Director of the Hanoi Urban Environment Limited Company (Urenco), said that the company is carrying out a project to manage and sort out waste, seeing it as a step forward towards the circular economy.

After six months of piloting the project in Hoan Kiem District from September 21, 2020 to March 30, 2021, the program earned positive results. “We will continue to implement the project in four core districts of Hanoi and surrounding areas,” he said.

Women in Hoan Kiem District organize a program to exchange plastic waste for trees. Photo: Ha Anh

In Ha Dong District, the chairwoman of the district Women's Union, Lai Ha Phuong, said that almost all members of her organization carry baskets with them to the market instead of going empty-handed and bringing home items wrapped in single-use plastic bags.

In order to replicate this model, the local Women's Union has organized many campaigns to respond to the movement against plastic waste, donating 5,000 eco-friendly bags, 580 food containers, and 22,000 glass water bottles for its members.

To greater actions

After two years of launching the anti-plastic waste movement, besides small actions such as exchanging plastic waste for trees, using banana leaves instead of plastic bags to wrap food, with many other deeds, the business community has also contributed to changing people’s habits and awareness on environment protection.

Mai Trong Thai, deputy director of the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment told The Hanoi Times that with the MoNRE’s support and guidance, big retailers and enterprises in Hanoi have formed an anti-plastic waste alliance, including TH Group, Coca-Cola, La Vie, Nestle, Nutifood, among others to speed up plastic waste recycling programs.

Numerous enterprises in Hanoi have encouraged their own staff and people to exchange plastic products for trees, use paper straws and reusable cups, Thai said, adding that many supermarkets in the city have committed to using banana leaves to wrap goods instead of plastic bags.

Many supermarkets in Hanoi have committed to using banana leaves to wrap goods instead of plastic bags. Photo: VNA

According to statistics, on average, Hanoi generates 4,000-5,000 tons of waste per day, of which plastic waste accounts for 7-8%. The municipal People's Committee has issued a plan to implement the national program on sustainable production and consumption in 2021, which emphasizes raising awareness and strengthening the social responsibility of organizations and individuals for sustainable production and consumption.

The plan attaches importance to drastically eliminating and saying no to plastic products in people’s life, Thai stressed.

He added that Hanoi also promotes scientific research to recycle plastic bag waste and plastic waste into more environmentally friendly products, including biodegradable plastic bags, bottles, and jars.

Many environmental experts said that in order for the movement against plastic waste to spread wider, the Vietnamese government needs to work out policies to encourage businesses to produce environmentally-friendly packages or biodegradable products.

In an interview with The Hanoi Times, Phan Tuan Hung, director of the Legal Department under the MoNRE, said that plastic waste is currently being managed like other types of waste. There is no specific regulation on plastic waste management yet, except some tax regulations that restrain the use of plastic bags.

"Policies and laws on plastic waste management are not commensurate with the impact level and its implications for the environment, ecosystems, and human health, as well as with the social interest in this issue,” Hung said.

He stressed that in terms of technical regulations, there must be a limit on the amount of plastic or thickness of plastic bags. Along with that, it is necessary to work out some kinds of taxes and environmental protection fees for plastic products.

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