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What are Vietnam’s moves to minimize plastic waste?
Linh Pham 13:12, 2019/09/17
The government has issued a series of policies aiming to eliminate single-use plastic bags nationwide by 2025.
The government of Vietnam has been aware of negative environmental impacts of plastic waste and released a number of regulations cope with this challenging issue such as banning single-used plastic bags in all stores, supermarkets, and markets by 2021 in across the country by 2025. 
 
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc launches nationwide anti-plastic waste movement in May 2019. Photo: Baotainguyenmoitruong
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc launches nationwide anti-plastic waste movement in May 2019. Photo: Baotainguyenmoitruong

Let’s see how strong the country’s determination is through a report by Ipsos – the world’s 3rd largest market research company, being present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Government’s regulations

In terms of policies, the government since 2011 has issued a series of documents targeting the reduction of plastic products. 

In 2012, the issue of Resolution No.1269/2011 aims to impose the environmental tax of VND40,000 (US$1.7) per kg on plastic bags. 

In 2015, Decree No.38/2015 directs at a goal to regulate the classification of waste into solid and organic waste. 

In 2016, Decree No. 155/2016 plans to regulate punishment for not classifying trash up to VND15 (US$650)-VND20 million (US$869).

In 2018, Decision No. 44/2018 of Ho Chi Minh City is expected to implement the solid waste sorting regulation in the southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City with a fine costing VND20 million for violators. 

In 2019, Resolution No. 579/2018 imposes the environmental tax of VND 50,000 (US$2.2) per kg on plastic bags. 

Government’s initiatives 

Besides policies and regulations, the government has promoted environmental campaigns to improve people’s awareness and call for changes in their behaviors.

On June 2, 2019, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and HCM City’s authorities organized “Green Living” festival in 2019 with nearly 60 enterprises participating to promote eco-friendly lifestyles and fighting against plastic waste.

On October 12, 2018, the MONRE launched “Anti-plastic Waste” campaign across Vietnam urging the community not to dump plastic waste into the environment. 

At the end of October, 2018, Da Nang launched an “Objection to Plastic Waste” campaign encouraging officials to say no to single-use plastic products. 

In May 2019, the government launched a nationwide matching ceremony on anti-plastic waste movement with the attendance of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung. 

Legal loopholes  

So far, Vietnam’s laws do not prohibit the use of plastic bags, except for Cham Islands in the central province of Quang Nam. 

However, the legal enforcement has not been effective enough due to the lack of an effective regulatory system.

For example, Decision No.44/2018 UBND of HCM City regulates separately collecting organic waste and other types of waste. If so, it is compulsory to use vehicles of different colors to store the garbage. 

In addition, there remains the lack of clear instructions and notifications to the public. In fact, a large number of residents said that they have not yet heard about the trash classification while many others have paid no attention on it. 

One more reason is inadequate tax and tariffs. The price of each bag after tax is only VND200-VND250 so the consumption of plastic bags is still increasing.

The last but not least, it’s hard to change consumers’ habit of consuming plastic bags. In reality, Vietnamese consumers have the habit of using plastic bags to contain every product in their daily life. 

Recommendations 

To raise people’s awareness of plastic pollution and change their behaviors in using plastic products, Ipsos has suggested some thorough solutions. 

(1) The whole value chain of plastic packaging industry need to move forward in the same direction to reduce the usage of unrecyclable packaging with strong support from the government. Opportunity for innovation across the value chain aims to provide an alternate environmental friendly packaging materials for brand owners and end-user with appropriate investment. 

(2) Manufacturers must increasingly demonstrate to consumers tangible packaging outcomes which are understandable and speak to brand purpose. Necessity is the mother of invention and those companies who grasp the opportunity to take leadership have the potential for great reward.

(3) Pack is a distinctive brand asset and requires careful management. Sustainable pack is a commercial imperative that shapes consumer sentiment and drives profitability. Consumer sentiment and e-commerce are shaping new expectations and new behaviors around sustainable pack.
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