Waste treatment has been and is a hot issue in countries around the world, including Vietnam. In the past ten years, the industry has been the industry with the highest growth rate among the national economic sectors with approximately 30% contribution to GDP and has become the main export industry of the country.
Although the treatment and management of industrial waste have made great progress, it is still not up to par with the demand. Currently, the amount of garbage in urban areas sent to concentrated landfills is only about 60-65%. The remaining amount is thrown into ponds, lakes, rivers, and by the roadside. In rural areas, waste is hardly collected and can be found anywhere.
Despite being one of the destinations of waste, in Vietnam it is still not fully utilized, the amount of recyclable waste is still buried over time without being put to use for the right purpose. According to the 2016 National Environmental Status Report of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, domestic solid waste generated in urban areas accounts for more than 50% of the total domestic solid waste of the country each year. By 2015, the total volume of domestic solid waste generated in urban areas was about 38,000 tons/day. In 2014, this figure was only about 32,000 tons/day. This number keeps increasing yearly.
There exist many issues in Vietnam’s recycling. The first and foremost problem lies in waste collection infrastructure. Garbage collection in Vietnam has long faced many obstacles, leading to difficulties in subsequent treatment stages, including recycling.
Currently, the waste collection force in the provinces includes both private and state-owned cities. In particular, the private sector is mostly small-scale, using rudimentary equipment, leading to a lack of synchronization in the waste treatment system.
In addition, despite the constant encouragement to sort out waste, many garbage collectors still dump all kinds of trash together, making the classifications useless.
Other problems are the involvement of technology in recycling. Recycling is not a focus of training in Vietnam. Education facilities do not specialize in recycling, which leads to a serious lack of specialists in the field. Recycling technology needs to be imported from Europe, and there are only about four enterprises importing said technology, 80% of which are foreign ones.
Many recycling activities in Vietnam are carried out by small-scaled facilities, mostly recycling villages, without sufficient technology and awareness for protecting the environment. Recycling villages have existed for a long time, and have certain relationships and links with both formal and informal waste collectors. That makes it difficult for recyclers to ensure quality when there is no supply of high-quality waste as input.
Vietnam is boosting the recycling business. Over the past few years, waste recycling has been deemed a potential industry in the country. However, the potential provided had not been successfully exploited.
Plastic recycling has been boosted rapidly in recent years. Plastic waste proves to be much challenging and is a threat to Vietnam’s environment. The government set a goal that by 2025, 85% of plastic waste will be collected, recycled, and reused. However, it will be a difficult goal to reach, providing that the obstacles of the recycling industry mentioned above are not yet dealt with.
Besides plastic recycling, there have been movements in packaging recycling. In 2019, PRO Vietnam was established. The organization aims to assist the Vietnamese government in promoting recycling activities. Their focus is to build and perfect the collection and treatment cycle of packaging through cooperation with local authorities and other parties in the packaging value chain, thereby increasing recycling capacity, reducing packaging waste into the environment.
There have been many actions taken to try and improve recycling in Vietnam, but up until now, the results are still of minimum impact. Developing and strengthen the industry in Vietnam will take much effort for many years to come.
Compiled by VietnamCredit