No ideal waste treatment technology for Vietnam yet

By Son Ha   August 9, 2022 | 06:00 am PT
No ideal waste treatment technology for Vietnam yet
Trash is piled up inside a chamber of the Soc Son waste-to-energy plant in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
The ideal waste treatment technology is still out of reach for Vietnam due to high humidity and unsorted trash, a company director told a Monday conference.

Vo Tien Dung, vice director of Hanoi-based Halcom Vietnam, said his business has been cooperating with German, Finnish and Japanese companies for the last 23 years, but has yet to find the best technologies to deal with Vietnam’s waste problems.

It is difficult to treat typically unsorted and highly humid waste in Vietnam. For example, trash in Europe has a humidity level of around 20%, while trash in Vietnam could have a humidity level of 60-70%, he added.

Even the ongoing waste-to-energy plants in Hanoi and Can Tho would need more time so their effectiveness could be evaluated, Dung said. Treating unsorted trash without the same humidity conditions as in other countries would make it hard to meet efficiency and emission standards, he added.

Nguyen Quang Huan, member of the National Assembly’s Committee for Science, Technology and the Environment, said he was concerned about waste-to-energy plants. He said such technology still produces pollutants, and is merely cleaning the ground while polluting the air.

As such, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment needs to issue national technical standards for running these plants. However, Huan is still worried that the efficiency of waste-to-energy plants would remain low and lead to closure, meaning trash would have nowhere else to go and would need to be buried.

Nguyen Thuong Hien, deputy head of the Vietnam Environment Administration under the environment ministry, said waste-to-energy technologies have their own pros and cons. Localities should choose a waste treatment scheme that’s aligned with the types of trash they have, as well as local socio-economic development situations, he added.

Hien also proposed policies regarding the cost of waste treatment based on the amount of trash produced by families and businesses, and for unsorted trash. Localities also need to prepare the infrastructure and other resources to collect and transport trash, he added.

Vietnam produces around 60,000 tons of solid waste a day, 60% of which are in urban areas, according to Vietnam Environment Administration. By 2025, the percentage of solid waste discharge is expected to increase by 10-16% a year. A total 70% of current trash is buried, around 10% recycled and the rest, processed in other ways.

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