Hanoi, January 25, 2024 – Bros Joint Stock Company, in collaboration with Hanoi University of Natural Resources and Environment, organized a talk show with the theme “Imported Plastic Waste.” The event is sponsored by the Pacific Environment Vietnam (PE-VN) organization through funding from the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) network.
In recent years, Vietnam has been facing a serious issue related to the importation of plastic waste. Despite efforts to minimize plastic usage and manage domestic plastic waste, the domestic plastic scrap supply in the country has not met the growing demand for plastic production. This has led to Vietnam becoming a major destination for the import of plastic waste from developed countries. Dependency on the importation of plastic waste has resulted in various negative consequences, including severe environmental pollution, potential harm to human health, and adverse impacts on the ecosystems where they are processed. A significant portion of imported plastic waste often contains unclear origins and various contaminants, posing challenges in managing and processing them effectively.
A symposium on the importation of plastic waste saw the participation of industry experts and representatives from entities, including Customs authorities, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Vietnam Recycled Plastic Association, domestic and international organizations, and drew the interest of many environmental students.
Director Nguyen Tai Van
During the event the Vietnam Television Education Channel aired a documentary titled “The Direction for Imported Plastic Waste.” This documentary provided a comprehensive overview of the importation of plastic waste in Vietnam. Director Nguyen Tai Van shared that the primary concern for the production team was the increasing cancer rates in Vietnam. According to the 2020 GLOBOCAN statistics, both the incidence and mortality rates of cancer worldwide are on the rise. In Vietnam, there were an estimated 182,563 new cancer cases and 122,690 cancer-related deaths. This equates to 159 new cancer diagnoses and 106 cancer-related deaths per 100,000 people. As of 2020, Vietnam ranked 91st out of 185 countries in terms of new cancer incidence and 50th out of 185 countries in terms of cancer-related mortality per 100,000 people. These rankings were 99th and 56th, respectively, in 2018.
Ms. Quach Thi Xuan – Head Representative of the Pacific Environment Vietnam
In the later part of the event, experts provided diverse perspectives on the importation of plastic waste. Ms. Quach Thi Xuan, the Head Representative of the Pacific Environment Vietnam, expressed her viewpoint: “Recycling helps plastic circulate more in the economy, but on the other hand, the recycling process consumes energy and emits various greenhouse gases. Specifically, recycling one ton of plastic waste releases approximately 4.4 tons of equivalent CO2 and other toxic substances.” Experts emphasized that while this practice may offer short-term benefits in terms of production materials and reduced pressure on natural resources, it also poses significant environmental, health, and food safety challenges. Importing plastic waste can lead to environmental pollution due to hazardous chemicals present in the waste, creating substantial pressure on the safe and effective recycling and processing of such waste. Typically, only 60% of imported plastic waste can be recycled, leaving the remaining 40% to be disposed of, contributing to massive plastic waste piles around recycling villages.
Ms. Quach Thi Xuan expressed concern: “Currently, in recycling villages, despite lacking proper permits, people continue to engage in unauthorized recycling activities, especially with plastic waste. This activity negatively impacts the environment because recycling technology is outdated, and the raw materials flow freely, mainly from collection and smuggling, resulting in severe environmental pollution.”
Mr. Hoang Duc Vuong, Chairman of the Vietnam Recycled Plastic Association
Mr. Hoang Duc Vuong, Chairman of the Vietnam Recycled Plastic Association, stated: “Importing plastic waste is essential because domestic plastic waste is not cleanly sorted at the source. Therefore, we need to import plastic raw materials from abroad, as these materials have been sorted and cleaned before entering Vietnam, producing a large quantity of recycled plastic to meet large orders.” Mr. Ngo Xuan Hieu, representative of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Hung Yen province, mentioned that the demand for importing plastic waste is an essential need for development. However, despite strict standards and conditions for licensed importers, there are still unlicensed recycling villages causing significant pollution through unauthorized collection and recycling.
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Lam, representative of the Environmental Pollution Control Department (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment)
To achieve sustainable development, experts recommend adopting smarter and more sustainable approaches to the import and recycling of plastic waste, along with enhanced management and stricter control of the import process. Speaking at the program, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Lam, representative of the Environmental Pollution Control Department (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), emphasized that regulatory authorities have tightened the management of imported plastic waste compared to the past. He urged for collective efforts from society, addressing waste pollution at its source, from the production process to end-users. Mr. Nguyen Thanh Lam stressed the need for strict control from importation to recycling and disposal stages. He highlighted the importance of cooperation between relevant parties, including the government, businesses, and the community, to gradually reduce the importation of plastic waste and replace it with domestic plastic waste. This, he emphasized, is a crucial step in raising awareness, sharing information about plastic waste recycling issues, and encouraging sustainable actions to protect the global environment and community health.
Experts during the talk show