Pay-as-you-throw model proposed for garbage collection

By Minh Nga   March 4, 2020 | 06:15 pm PT
Pay-as-you-throw model proposed for garbage collection
A worker covers one of the garbage trucks on a street in Hanoi as locals block entrance into a landfill in a protest, July 4, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
People discarding trash should pay a fee based on the volume and type of rubbish, the Vietnam Environment Administration has suggested.

The administration (VEA), the consulting arm of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, is working on amendments to the Environment Law.

The law came into effect in 2010 and stipulated clearly that people have to sort trash at source, but it has yet to be done, and all types of garbage thus go to one place before ending up at some landfill.

The VEA, by amending the law, wants more stringent measures to ensure waste is sorted in urban areas.

The amendments to the law will regulate that garbage must be collected and sorted for recycling or reuse or treated in such a way that it will not pollute the environment.

For domestic waste, residents should pay as they discard, which means the more they throw away, the higher the fee.

"To do so, we are going learn from South Korea’s experience of imposing a fee calculated by measuring the size and number of garbage bags," Nguyen Thuong Hien, deputy head of the VEA, said.

The proposed amendments will classify garbage into four types: solid waste that can be recycled such as paper, plastic, metal, and rubber; organic waste such as leftover food and stuff discarded while making food; cumbersome trash like furniture; and hazardous solid waste such as batteries and light bulbs.

Each must go into different bags, which will be made of eco-friendly materials.

Eventually, families that discard more trash will have to buy more bags.

"The fees collected from selling eco-friendly garbage bags will be spent on collecting, transporting and treating the trash," Hien said.

Families in urban areas now pay garbage collection fees of VND25,000-30,000 ($1.08-1.29) per month.

For cumbersome garbage, each locality will fix specific times for their collection to streamline the process.

Families and businesses not segregating and putting trash in the correct bags will be fined.

It is expected that the draft amendments, once approved by the government, will be discussed at the next session of the National Assembly in May.

Vietnam, at 280,000 tons per year, is among the top four producers of plastic waste in the world, according to a World Bank report.

Over 70 percent of this is buried, leading to loss of land and pollution.

The nation produces 25.5 million tons of solid waste a year, of which 75 percent is buried.

Several landfills in major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang have become overloaded and are affecting people's lives.

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

Hien of the VEA said at a conference in October last year that there was no solid waste treatment model in the country that met all technical, economic, social, and environmental requirements.

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