Promoting Implementation of Circular Economy Models in Vietnam

10:37:23 AM | 4/22/2019

The circular economy will open up business opportunities worth US$ 4.5 trillion by 2030, creating hundreds of millions of new jobs, helping businesses reduce the risks of material scarcity and fluctuation of resource prices, and contribute to realizing the Agenda 2030 on sustainable development.

That is comment of Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, Secretary General of VCCI, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD).

Risk of "white pollution" disaster

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, 2 big cities alone (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) dispose into the environment about 80 tons of plastic and plastic bags/day. Notably, the amount of plastic waste and plastic bags nationwide accounted for about 8-12% of domestic solid waste.

If an average of 10% of plastic waste and plastic bags is not reused but completely disposed, the amount of plastic and plastic waste is approximately 2.5 million tons/year. This is a burden for the environment, even leading to “white pollution” disaster.

In addition, the statistics of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment also show that the amount of domestic solid waste generated is around 68,000 tons/day, the current collection rate increases both in urban areas (85%) and rural areas (40-55%). The amount of common industrial solid waste generated is about 8.1 million tons/year, excluding ash, slag, plaster generated from thermal, chemical and fertilizer plants (estimated at 17 million tons/year) and soil and rock waste from the mining industry.

The report also states that in most cities/provinces, industrial solid waste has been collected and recycled. However, these activities are spontaneous and small-scale. Manufacturing technology of production households is often backward, potentially causing environmental pollution.

Mr. Andrew Thomas Mangan, Executive Director of U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD), said that in 2015, Vietnam generated about 27 million tons of waste. This number still increases every year. Currently, 70% of waste disposal sites in Vietnam are not classified as sanitary landfills.

On the other hand, to turn waste into valuable materials, enterprises face difficulties in controlling, building databases and distributing for secondary materials. Investors find it hard to access raw materials, as well as to assess and control information about raw materials in Vietnam.
Ms. Regula Schegg, Managing Director of Asia Circulate Capital, said about 150 million tons of plastic are floating in the ocean and each year the amount of plastic waste increases by about 8 million tons. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asia needs about 26 trillion US$to improve the entire infrastructure from 2016 to 2030. However, we can reduce 45% of plastic through improving management and recycling of waste in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Implementing action

According to Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, in the last 3 years, the number of enterprises in the world paying attention to the initiative, the business model of the circular economy has greatly increased. However, in Vietnam, the circular economy is still a new concept for businesses, especially small and medium enterprises. This not only puts businesses at risk from raw material scarcity and resource price fluctuations, but also affects the green and sustainable growth strategy of the country.

Mr. Andrew Thomas Mangan highly appreciated and expected VBCSD/VCCI in the implementation of the Secondary Material Market Project - where manufacturers can buy, sell and exchange equipment and materials in accordance with their demands. Thereby, it helps to make the most of material sources that are still valuable to use, minimize negative environmental impacts and promote Vietnam's economic growth in a more sustainable way.

Recently, the working group on Vietnam's circular economy under the Program of promoting the circular economy model in Vietnam has been launched. The group includes representatives of Central Institute for Economic Management, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, AES-VCM Mong Duong, Prudential Vietnam Assurance Private Ltd, and C.P. Vietnam Livestock Corporation.

“This is an open group, consisting of experts, business associations and enterprises working closely together, to make policy recommendations, to promote the development of the circular economy towards not only the growth of the economy and society, but also environmental protection,” Mr. Vinh said.

To spread and promote businesses to replicate the circular economy model, Dow Chemical Vietnam LLC cooperated with Deep C Co. Ltd. to build the first road from plastic waste in Vietnam at the DEEP C Hai Phong industrial complex. The 1 km section of the road is expected to be completed in September 2019. The project is implemented with the purpose of recycling 4 tons of elastic plastic packaging, equivalent to about 1 million plastic packages, into roads.

Huong Ly