Converting Waste to Resource

9:31:47 AM | 11/9/2020

Waste is currently a big global problem that seriously affects the living environment if it is not handled thoroughly, especially in urban areas. In Vietnam, due to rapid urban growth and rapidly growing urban population, waste is becoming a hot issue of concern for the Government, central agencies and local authorities and the whole society.

According to data released by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, currently, municipal solid waste (MSW) generated nationwide is about 61,000 tons a day, including 37,000 tons in urban areas and 24,000 tons in rural areas, of which 85.5% and 45-60% are collected and treated, respectively. MSW is primarily landfilled (about 71%) while the rest is treated by other methods such as composting production, incineration or incineration with energy recovery and some other technologies.

As for plastic waste, a household uses about 1 kg of plastic bags a month. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, dwellers discharge 80 tons of plastic a day into the environment. If we do not have effective and timely solutions, negative impacts from plastic waste will become very serious. In order to improve solid waste management, on February 3, 2019, the Government issued Resolution 09/NQ-CP, assigning the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to lead State management on solid waste management; assigning the Chairpersons of the Provincial People’s Committee to be responsible for waste and waste treatment in the locality.

Prof. Nguyen Huu Dung, Director of the Vietnam Institute of Urban and Industrial Environment, said, “Environment policies are yet to meet market requirements, thus failing to engage the private sector to collect, transport and treat waste.” Organic composting, waste burning, waste-to-energy production (electricity and heat), recycling technology and methane recovery depends on the size, waste amount, incinerator capacity and local output and consumption, special consideration should be given to cost and environmental protection.

Accordingly, in order to support MSW treatment technology, Vietnam needs many drastic measures. First of all, waste must be classified at the source and transported to given places by specialized vehicles. Then, locally appropriate technology will be chosen for economically, technically and environmentally effective solid waste treatment.

In addition, it needs to review, amend and supplement legal documents, regulations, standards, technical and economic norms, and announce market-based prices for waste collection, transportation and treatment. It also needs to have preferential mechanisms for collection and transportation services, waste output products such as recycled waste and electricity, said Dung.

Mr. Trinh Van Tuyen from the Institute of Environmental Technology, said, “Applying technological advances and innovations to waste treatment is to create a cleaner production environment and reduce pollution emissions. Waste is collected and produced into useful products, biogas, electricity and unburnt bricks and others. To choose an appropriate management model and technology, we need to promote research and application of advanced and modern technologies and solutions to waste treatment; and enhance trade promotion and technology transfer between domestic enterprises and cooperatives with foreign partners."

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, waste treatment technology is always given special attention by the ministry. Particularly, the energy-recovery combustion technology is applied to urban areas where 400-500 tons or more of MSW is collected a day. In the near future, it will be applied to major economic centers and major cities where waste is huge in volume. Non-energy recovery technology is applied to district areas where 200-400 tons of MSW is collected a day. In addition, compost production will be prioritized to application and production of dry yeast, suitable for areas where there is a high demand for fertilizers (forestry farms and industrial crops). Other technologies such as methanization, carbonization, and co-treatment in cement kilns will applied in given cases.

In order to effectively manage waste treatment and turn waste into a resource, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to study and review simplifying procedures for waste-to-electricity incinerators that relate to national electricity development plans to speed up socialization of waste treatment in general and waste-to-energy treatment in particular.

Chapter VI of the draft Law on Environmental Protection (amended) supplements regulations on classification, collection, recycling, and treatment of municipal solid waste generated from manufacturing, business, and service activities. The bill clearly stipulates that organizations and individuals are responsible for classifying nonhazardous industrial solid waste and domestic solid waste at the source to facilitate reuse, recycling, energy recovery and handling; encourage the application of environmentally friendly technologies to waste treatment and energy recovery. The reuse and recycling of plastic waste for production of goods and construction materials, and traffic, will foster the development of secondary material marketplaces.

By Minh Ngoc, Vietnam Business Forum