Prime Minister sets ambitious target in plastic waste fight

By Giang Chinh   June 9, 2019 | 06:48 am PT
Prime Minister sets ambitious target in plastic waste fight
Trash dumped near the parked boats in the central province of Thanh Hoa. Photo by Nguyen Viet Hung.
Vietnam should strive for zero disposable plastic use in urban stores, markets and supermarkets by 2021, the PM says.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that plastic waste is a global problem. "Every year, the amount of plastic waste emitted by humans is enough to cover four times the surface area of the earth, including 13 million tons of plastic waste floating on the oceans."

Plastic waste is negatively affecting the ecosystems, habitats, human health and sustainable development of each country by the hour, he said.

Phuc spoke Sunday morning about the epidemic of plastic waste at the launch of a national anti-plastic parade organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Hanoi administration.

He expressed happiness that several localities, businesses and communities have come up practical solutions and initiatives to reduce, sort, reuse, and recycle plastic waste.

The PM also welcomed the establishment of a coalition of businesses to work against plastic waste.

He acknowledged that there were still many limitations and shortcomings, including the mindset of citizens and businesses regarding plastic waste. "Therefore, Vietnam needs to take practical, specific actions to control and prevent the generation of plastic waste, so that current and future generations can live in a clean, safe, and sustainable environment."

"Let’s try to ensure that by 2021 stores, markets, supermarkets in urban areas will not use single-use plastic goods; and by 2025, the whole country will not use disposable plastic products," he said.

He asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to review policies to limit plastic waste; and to bring small-scale plastic recycling plants into industrial zones.

Vietnam should limit and move towards ending import and production of plastic bags which are difficult to decompose. At the same time, research agencies and scientists should study new technologies and develop a circulating economy, he said.

Chairman of  the Hanoi People's Committee, Nguyen Duc Chung said at the event that the city is implementing five projects to limit plastic waste. Additionally, by the end of 2020, all industrial production units and trade centers will sign a commitment to say no to plastic-based waste.

Vietnam generates around 2,500 tons of plastic waste daily, according to official figures. It is fourth in the list of nations dumping plastic waste in the ocean, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

The country has recently taken several measures to tackle its plastic problem. Last month, Thua Thien-Hue Province's government requested its workers not to use plastic water bottles or plastic bags at the workplace. 

Supermarket chain Saigon Co.op has stopped selling plastic straws since last month. Some supermarket chains have begun to use banana leaves to pack vegetables instead of plastic.

In April, the HCMC Open University announced a ban on plastic straws and bottled water on its campus from May onwards. Teachers and students have to bring their own bottles or use recyclable bottles the university provides.

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