Don't let trash go to waste by burying it, Vietnam advised

By Gia Chinh   August 15, 2019 | 05:30 am PT
Don't let trash go to waste by burying it, Vietnam advised
Trucks dump garbage at Khanh Son Landfill in Da Nang, central Vietnam, July 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.
Vietnam should tighten rules on sorting trash and promote recycling to minimize its burial, experts said at a conference Wednesday.

Germany classifies its trash, recycles them and only allows burial of trash that cannot be reused, Jorg Ruger, an environment expert with the German embassy said.

From 50,000 landfills in 1972, the country only had 300 sites in 2016, and plans to abolish them all next year, he added.

Meanwhile, South Korea has succeeded in reducing its trash burial rate from 96 to 16 percent from 1982 to 2013 by issuing laws on "resource cycling," including levying high fees for trash burial to encourage the people to recycle more, said Kim In Hwan, South Korea’s former deputy environment minister.

The country also issued government-sanctioned trash bags that citizens had to pay for, Kim said. Businesses have to collect and recycle their own products, failing which they will be fined, he added.

South Korea does not encourage trash incineration for fear of air pollution, Kim said.

"Trash cannot be a resource if we continue to bury it," said Vo Tuan Nhan, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.

He said Vietnam should consider collecting fees from organizations and individuals based on the amount of trash they produce.

Vietnam is among the top four countries which produce the most plastic waste in the world, at 280,000 tons per year, according to a World Bank report. Over 70 percent this is buried, leading to loss of land area and pollution.

The country produces 25.5 million tons of waste per year, of which 75 percent is buried. Several burial sites in major cities like Hanoi, HCMC or Da Nang are overloaded and affecting citizens' lives.

Hanoi and HCMC, in particular, each spend VND1.2-1.5 trillion ($52-65 million) a year, or around 3.5 percent of their budget, on collecting and treating waste.

At a conference last month, Nguyen Thuong Hien, head of the Vietnam Environment Administration's waste management department, had said that there was no solid waste treatment model in the country that met all technical, economic, social, and environmental requirements.

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