Plas­tic waste must be re­cy­cled: ex­perts

Viet Nam News - - FEATURES -

HAØ NOIÄ — Plas­tic waste is a re­source that needs to be col­lected, sorted and re­cy­cled. Non-reusable solid waste (in­clud­ing plas­tic waste) should be moved to a waste treat­ment plant, said a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Min­istry of Con­struc­tion.

Mai Thò Lieân Höông, di­rec­tor of the Tech­ni­cal In­fra­struc­ture Depart­ment un­der the Min­istry of Con­struc­tion said, “We can’t sep­a­rate plas­tic waste man­age­ment from solid waste man­age­ment.”

She stressed that plas­tic waste was a big prob­lem and the coun­try was work­ing on a plan to han­dle it.

“Vieät Nam should plan to guide lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to or­gan­ise, re­view and ad­just solid waste man­age­ment ef­fec­tively,” she said.

Specif­i­cally, the rel­e­vant min­istries’ plan­ning, con­struc­tion blue­prints and strate­gic ob­jec­tives must be com­pleted by mid-2019.

In Vieät Nam, the rate of solid waste col­lec­tion in the cities cur­rently is 85 per cent, while in ru­ral ar­eas it ranges from 50 to 60 per cent. Waste that is not col­lected is lit­tered into rivers, canals and the sea with­out ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment.

The main form of solid waste col­lec­tion in the coun­try to­day is a sys­tem in which trash trucks col­lect garbage from homes and pub­lic bins, then bring it to a dump.

About 95 per cent of the solid waste col­lected has been buried at more than 500 land­fills built by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and thou­sands of small-scale, unau­tho­rised land­fills built by res­i­dents.

Among these un­planned land­fills, many small-scale ones don’t meet hy­giene stan­dards while oth- ers are lo­cated near water re­sources. Be­cause of this, garbage des­tined for the land­fills ends up in the sur­round­ing ar­eas, in­clud­ing rivers and canals.

Ad­di­tion­ally, plas­tic waste man­age­ment is weak in lo­cal­i­ties that don’t clas­sify waste as part of the ini­tial garbage col­lec­tion process.

Ac­cord­ing to Höông, by 2020 about 80 per cent of solid waste (in­clud­ing plas­tic waste) will be treated ac­cord­ing to the clas­si­fi­ca­tion and re­cy­cling tech­nol­ogy.

At a sem­i­nar last week coor­gan­ised by the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture (IUCN) and busi­ness co­mu­nity, ex­pert Hoaøng Döông Tuøng said plas­tic waste that hasn’t been re­cy­cled is mainly plas­tic bags, boxes, straws and sin­gle-use bot­tles, mainly from the ac­tiv­i­ties of house­holds, of­fices, schools, mar­kets and restau­rants.

But plas­tic scraps from the man­u­fac­tur­ing work­shops have been col­lected and re­cy­cled.

Haø Noäi and HCM City dis­charge the largest amount of waste into the en­vi­ron­ment, with 80 tonnes of rub­bish dis­charged daily.

HCM City alone gen­er­ates 250,000 tonnes of plas­tic waste an­nu­ally, of which 48,000 tonnes are buried and 200,000 tonnes are re­cy­cled or dis­posed di­rectly into the en­vi­ron­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in 2015 from the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia in the US, Vieät Nam is one of the five coun­tries in the world that dis­poses the largest amount of plas­tic waste into the ocean. “Vieät Nam is among the top 20 coun­tries with the largest amount of waste, equal to the United States or Malaysia, and higher than the av­er­age level in the world.”

Each year, about 8 mil­lion tonnes of plas­tic waste dis­posed in the ocean, of which 1.8 mil­lion tonnes come from Vieät Nam. On av­er­age, each Viet­namese per­son re­leases 1.2 kg of solid waste into the en­vi­ron­ment per day, of which 16 per cent is plas­tic waste, ac­cord­ing to the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia re­port.

Buøi Thò Thu Hieàn, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of IUCN, said the Ma­rine Plas­tic and Coastal Com­mu­ni­ties ini­tia­tive launched late 2017 was an ef­fort to con­trol the re­lease of plas­tic waste pol­lu­tion in Vieät Nam.

“Ma­rine plas­tic waste pol­lu­tion is one of the most wide­spread threats to our en­vi­ron­ment, econ­omy and the whole so­ci­ety.”

“The plas­tic ul­ti­mately in­fil­trates the ocean food chains, se­verely af­fect­ing the health and liveli­hood of both ma­rine ecosys­tems and coastal com­mu­ni­ties,” she added.

The Ma­rine Plas­tic and Coastal Com­mu­ni­ties ini­tia­tive is a three­year global ini­tia­tive in Asia and Africa, funded by the Swe­den. Five coun­tries—Mozam­bique, Kenya, South Africa, Thai­land, and Vieät Nam—are tar­geted to be the main fo­cus.

The ini­tia­tive is ex­pected to help gov­ern­ments, en­ter­prises, and so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions de­velop knowl­edge, ca­pac­ity, pol­icy plan­ning and plans of ac­tion to re­duce plas­tic waste pol­lu­tion.

Dr Nguyeãn Leâ Tuaán, Di­rec­tor of the Sea and Is­lands Re­search In­sti­tute at the Vieät Nam Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sea and Is­lands said plas­tic waste in the sea caused se­ri­ous im­pacts on ma­rine ecosys­tems.

“Large plas­tic frag­ments such as fish­ing traps and nets can trap species of birds, mam­mals, sea tur­tles and in­ver­te­brates. Types of plas­tic, es­pe­cially mi­cro plas­tics (less than 5mm in size) can be mixed with food of ma­rine species,” he said.

“The study es­ti­mates that 90 per cent of world’s seabirds will eat plas­tics, and this num­ber is es­ti­mated to reach 99 per cent by 2050.”

The ex­pert on ma­rine ecosys­tems warned that this could lead to the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of some harm­ful sub­stances or dis­turb di­ges­tion, af­fect­ing the growth of ma­rine life. In ad­di­tion, the mi­cro plas­tic also has the abil­ity to ab­sorb pol­lu­tants.

Pre­vi­ously at a World Ocean day event, en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Traàn Hoàng Haø called on all com­mu­ni­ties to take re­spon­si­bil­ity and do more to tackle plas­tic waste pol­lu­tion prob­lem for a health­ier ocean. — VNS

Plas­tic waste is col­lected for re­cy­cling in the north­ern prov­ince of Laøo Cai. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoïc Haø

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