Unilever Vietnam boosts for more recycling of plastic waste

By Thy An   November 27, 2023 | 12:30 am PT
Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Chairwoman of Unilever Vietnam, said it is crucial that plastic waste can be reused, recycled instead of being discarded, causing damage to the environment.

Van and speakers from SCG Group and VietinBank engaged in the discussion session on promoting the circular economy at the Vietnam Circular Economy Forum 2023 in Hanoi on Nov. 16.

According to Van, plastic recycling is an important factor in promoting a circular economy.

With only about 33% of plastic waste recycled, Vietnam is losing nearly 70% of the material value of plastic, equivalent to nearly US$3 billion per year.

"The most effective way to solve this problem is to redirect the flow so that plastic can be circulated and returned to serve life instead of being discarded," Van said.

Nguyen Thi Bich Van, President of Unilever Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Unilever Vietnam

Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Chairwoman of Unilever Vietnam, speaks at the Vietnam Circular Economy Forum 2023 in Hanoi on Nov. 16, 2023. Photo courtesy of Unilever Vietnam

Plastic recycling, according to Van, requires design, cooperation, and awareness.

In terms of design, Unilever has strongly advocated projects to enhance packaging materials in accordance with the circular economy throughout the years.

So far, Unilever Vietnam has achieved 63% recyclable or easily decomposable packaging while reducing 52% virgin plastic in package manufacturing via direct reduction and the use of recycled plastic.

Unilever Vietnam also entered into a public-private collaboration (PPC) with SCG, Dow, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to develop a circular economy in plastic waste management, collaborate on a national scale to manage product lifecycles, improve sustainable raw material supply, boost public awareness, and foster innovation and creativity in waste management.

After three years, the PPC has collected and recycled 25,000 tons of plastic waste. Unilever, for example, will use recycled plastic pellets to produce new plastic bottles.

Distributors, such as retailers, will deliver recycled plastic packaging to customers and encourage them to continue classifying plastic waste after use, making sure that the plastic cycle continues.

Unilever Vietnams representative introduced the plastic circular economy model. Photo courtesy of Unilever Vietnam

A Unilever Vietnam's representative (L) introduces the plastic circular economy model. Photo courtesy of Unilever Vietnam

Unilever Vietnam has also informed nearly 12 million people about waste classification at source via direct and mass media channels.

Van, speaking on behalf of PPC, made a number of recommendations for the plastic circular economy to be replicated nationwide, which requires cooperation from state agencies, collectors, recyclers, institutions, international organizations, and distributors, as well as investment in modern, effective recycling technologies for common types of plastic.

Roongrote Rangsiyopash, Chairman and CEO of SCG Thailand, also shared its ESG strategy (Environment, Society, Governance) at the forum.

SCG currently has three main business areas: construction materials, petrochemicals, and packaging. It also proactively implements its commitments through the ESG 4Plus strategy, which includes objectives such as zero net emissions, green development, reducing inequality, and promoting cooperation.

The group creates sustainable development efforts such as green packaging (100% recyclable packaging materials), green polymers (eco-friendly plastic), green building...

According to Do Thanh Son, Deputy General Director of the Executive Board of the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank), using the circular economy model in Vietnam is a necessary step toward sustainable development.

"VietinBank is ready to accompany the business community, contributing to implementing the national green transformation strategy, production, and business associated with environmental protection," he said.

The bank commits to accompanying and supporting businesses in accessing sustainable financial products to apply circular economic models in production and business activities, contributing to the implementation of the national action plan to implement a circular economy.

Speaking at the opening of the forum, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan said that the circular economy is being evaluated by the international community as an appropriate and practical approach to help humanity solve problems, meet current challenges, and achieve sustainable development goals.

"The circular economy can keep the material flow in use for as long as possible, restoring and regenerating products and materials at the end of each production or consumption cycle," said Nhan.

Developing a circular economy is a key solution to improve national competitiveness, ensure sustainable production and consumption, and contribute to the harmonious settlement between the economy and the environment.

Delegates participated in the forum. Photo courtesy of Unilever Vietnam

Delegates participate in the forum. Photo courtesy of Unilever Vietnam

The Vietnam Circular Economy Forum is an annual event of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, where government leaders and domestic and international partners exchange and discuss appropriate approaches and financial mechanisms to promote circular operation in industries and fields from central to local levels, to ensure the implementation of Vietnam's international commitments on climate change, preserve natural resources and biodiversity, and reduce environmental pollution.

This year, with the theme "Developing a National Action Plan to Implement a Circular Economy in Vietnam", speakers discussed the Draft National Action Plan to Implement a Circular Economy and the roadmap.

Deployment took place on Nov. 16 in Hanoi in both online and in-person forms.

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