by Ellen Putri Edita and Hendro Putra Johannes • 1 April 2022

1 April 2022: The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI) of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) of Viet Nam co-organised a webinar discussing many ways private companies can contribute to combatting plastic waste and marine plastic debris, especially taking into consideration the new extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme in Viet Nam.

Representatives from MONRE, a Vietnamese business alliance, Vietnamese private companies, and international businesses operating in Viet Nam, gathered at this occasion to stocktake the progress made, and share innovative approaches to support the effective EPR implementation in the country.

In his opening remark, Mr Michikazu Kojima, Senior Advisor of ERIA, acknowledged the private sector as one of the main stakeholders to carry out the EPR scheme mandated in the revised Law on Environmental Protection 2020 of Viet Nam. In addition, Ms Pham Thu Hang, Deputy Director-General of VASI, in her opening remark, reiterated that the EPR which has been prepared over the last few years has finally come into force in 2022.

‘Through the event, I hoped some lessons learned could be utilized as useful input to further encourage stakeholders to join hand against the pressing plastic issue,’ she said.

Mr Nguyen Thi, Principal Official of the Department of Legal Affairs of MONRE, explained that in the newly-implemented EPR scheme, private sector is responsible for engaging in recycling or making a financial contribution. Packaging (including plastic packaging) is a new addition to the five items previously listed for mandatory recycling, which are batteries, lubricants, tires, electrical products, and transport vessels.

‘Going forward, it is necessary to implement source segregation, apply weight-based fee, promote public private partnership schemes, formulate regional plan and guidance for waste treatment, and encourage active participation from all stakeholders,’ Mr Thi concluded.

Also read: Mr Nguyen Thi’s presentation

The Challenges and Homework of EPR Implementation

Mr Long Nguyen, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of An Phat Holdings, shared some challenges of EPR implementation in Viet Nam, including lack of proper facility, unclear and overlapping roles of stakeholders, lack of data and fee transparency, and market competition. To address some of the challenges, An Phat Holdings is endorsing their certified marine biodegradable straws, fishing nets & gears, home compostable shopping bags, cutleries, and others.

‘One of the relevant ongoing projects is to develop a manufacturing plant of compostable resin, with capacity of 30,000 tons/year, in Hai Phong, expected to be launched in 2024,’ Mr Long explained.

Also read: Mr Long Nguyen’s presentation

Mr Ekkasit Lakkananithiphan, President of Dow Vietnam, assured Dow Vietnam’s commitment to deliver the best in-class circular economy solutions, namely, through a cooperation with Fuenix Ecology that will supply a new feedstock from recycled plastic to produce new polymers.

‘Cooperation with Kellogg aims to develop the very first fully-recyclable stand-up pouch for food packaging with 100% recyclability,’ Mr Lakkananithiphan added.

Also read: Mr Ekkasit Lakkananithiphan’s Presentation

Mr Hideki Wada, Director of Vietnam Waste Planning Company, cited as a reference the industrial sector participation on solid waste management and recycling in Viet Nam. Under the EPR scheme, industrial sector is obliged to collect and recycled their post-consumer waste, even generated from household. Some industries have experienced advantages in managing such domestic waste, and this could be applied to waste management of plastics.

‘Steel industry is famous for its high technology capacity to recycle plastic waste by using their existing blast furnaces. While chemical industries like Dow gain advantage by utilizing highly advanced recycling technology,’ Mr Wada explained.

Also read: Mr Hideki Wada’s presentation

Mr Fausto Tazzi, Vice President of Vietnam Packaging Recycling Alliance (PRO Vietnam), suggested some of the concrete recommendations for an effective and efficient EPR implementation in Viet Nam.

‘It is important to leverage technical know-how to adapt to local reality, ensure a levelled playing field by ensuring the principle of fairness among private companies, and be patient and acknowledge that it may take some time for the system to develop,’ Mr Tazzi summarized.

Also read: Mr Fausto Tazzi’s presentation

When asked about source segregation system in Viet Nam, Mr Hideki Wada from Vietnam Waste Planning Company stressed that the country requires more discussion about the management of waste bin/waste containers to encourage the waste separation at source. Furthermore, Mr Nguyen Thi from MONRE added that Viet Nam should develop markets for recycled products in order to promote recycling. Referring to this, MONRE has proposed the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Viet Nam to issue technical standard on recycled plastics and guidance for sustainable plastic use. This will enable economic development and environmental protection.