Say No to Single-use Plastic Waste

9:26:42 AM | 12/6/2021

The “Say No to Single-use Plastic Waste” Action Month launched throughout November, attended by many companies and responded to by 1,500 schools, aimed to communicate and raise the awareness of the public, especially students, of the harmfulness of plastic waste to the environment. On this occasion, Vietnam Business Forum’s reporter has an interview with Mr. Vu Minh Ly, Deputy Director of the Center for Natural Resources and Environment Media under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Thu Huyen reports.

Faced with the increasing danger of single-use plastic waste in Vietnam, what decisions has the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment adopted to solve this problem?

As an administrator of solid waste and a lead agency in charge of reducing single-use plastic waste and leading the Zero Plastic Waste Movement, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment consistently, effectively carried out tasks, advised the Prime Minister to issue directives, schemes and decisions to this effect, including Directive 33/CT-TTg on strengthening management, reuse, recycling, treatment and reduction of plastic waste; Decision 1746/QD-TTg on a national action plan on ocean plastic waste management to 2030; and Decision 1316/QD-TTg on strengthened management of plastic waste in Vietnam.

The ministry is developing and completing guidelines on reducing, reusing, recycling and treating plastic waste, preventing plastic waste and managing imported scrap as specified in the Law on Environmental Protection 2020; effectively implementing the National Strategy on Integrated Solid Waste Management to 2025, with a vision to 2050, to ensure the goal of using 100% of environmentally friendly plastic bags at trade centers and supermarkets rather than hard-to-decompose plastic bags; reduce and end import, production and supply of non-biodegradable plastic bags from 2026 in commercial centers and supermarkets for domestic household purposes.

In addition, the ministry adopted many actions to reduce plastic waste and ocean plastic waste together with international organizations such as WWF Vietnam, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Economic Forum's National Action Partnership Program on Plastic Waste.

However, as mentioned above, the popularity of single-use plastic waste results from consumer habits. So, apart from advising and consulting on directives, decisions, projects and action programs, the ministry encouraged people to switch to buying and using other environmentally friendly substitutes. One of the new contents in the revised Law on Environmental Protection to be applied from the beginning of 2022 is that polluters will have to take responsibility for their own actions and pay for pollution treatment. Specifically, when buying products with disposable plastic, buyers will have to pay an additional fee for those products. The direct financial levy on consumption will gradually change behaviors and habits and help raise awareness and the use of environmentally friendly products.

As said, information plays a very important role in raising public awareness of reducing disposable plastic. As a media agency for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, how do you uphold your role?

To change consumer habits and behaviors to reduce and refuse single-use plastic and encourage the use of environmentally friendly products, we have worked with international agencies to launch many survey programs and assess consumer behaviors and habits as well as the community's desire to access information about single-use plastic. Information about these activities has been widely communicated and propagated in the mass media and has produced positive results.

To make effective communication closer to consumers and specific audiences, we have continuously changed, created and approached new communication methods to diversify communications like cartoons about ocean plastic waste aimed at young students; music videos for young people and the community; and feature films about environmental protection. Roles, responsibilities and efforts are communicated. Communications about plastic waste reduction are being actively responded to by the community and the whole society, reflected in each practical, simple but meaningful and effective everyday action.

Would you tell us more about the significance and impact of the “Say No to Single-use Plastic Waste” program?

The “Say No to Single-use Plastic Waste” Action Month was launched to schools across the country. To date, we have received a lot of applications, photos and activities. The program has attracted teachers, parents and students across the country to register a series of interesting online activities and useful and practical products made by students.

We realize that education is extremely important to environmental protection and plastic waste reduction. At the same time, the program also encourages students to build green consumption habits and recycle utensils for dynamic and green Vietnam.

Through educational programs and contests, the Organizing Committee hopes to gradually teach green habits and lifestyles at schools to raise awareness of students about reducing and refusing single-use plastic products, encourage the use of environmentally friendly products such as paper bags, reusable cloth bags, personal water bottles, stainless steel straws and paper straws.

In this program, we have also cooperated with many agencies and businesses. We hope that, in order to reduce plastic waste and strive to achieve the goals set by the Prime Minister of Vietnam, we need cooperation and support of governmental agencies and mass organizations, and, indispensably, the response and effort of enterprises, community and society to implement policies, transform habits and replace products to finally use environmentally friendly products.

Thank you very much!

By Vietnam Business Forum