Dirty waste collection, treatment annoying local residents

Although the local authorities of many provinces and cities have upgraded their waste treatment technologies, dwellers near these sites still report severe impacts of the process on their daily activities.
Smoke is scattering around in Phuoc Hiep Waste Treatment Complex in Cu Chi District (Photo: SGGP)

Smoke is scattering around in Phuoc Hiep Waste Treatment Complex in Cu Chi District (Photo: SGGP)

Statistics from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry reveal that garbage treatment via burial still accounts for a high percentage of 71 percent, only 20 percent of which are done properly. Along with a lack of modern treatment technologies, this has created air pollution and sewage leaking into the neighboring area.

For instance, the route leading to the Northwest Solid Waste Treatment Complex (Cu Chi District of HCMC) is rather dirty, with garbage scattering along and sewage dripping from collection trucks. Even at a distance of 500m away from the site, it is still possible to smell the foul odor, while columns after columns of black smoke can be seen from afar. The used-to-be-clean canal running across the residential area is now darker owing to water pollution.

Local residents in Phuoc Hiep Commune shared that since the operation of this Complex, many of their orchards and rice fields have experienced low yields.

Similarly, air pollution in Da Phuoc Waste Treatment Complex (Binh Chanh District of HCMC) is becoming worse day after day. The stinking small can be detected from quite a far distance, and can worsen after each rain or at the time of waste dumping every day.

Other provinces and cities nationwide are facing the same state due to using outdated garbage processing technologies. Local residents near Nam Son Waste Treatment Site (Hanoi) have had to stop garbage collection trucks from entering the site many times as they cannot bear the pollution level, which is severely affecting their daily activities. similar stories can be found in the provinces of Binh Dinh, Lam Dong, Kien Giang, Thai Nguyen, and Can Tho City.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry informed that on average, a Vietnam citizen each day releases 1.2kg of waste, resulting in around 120,000 tonnes in total nationwide. More seriously, Vietnam is among the top 20 countries with the largest amount of plastic waste.

Finding a feasible solution for waste treatment that is supported by local residents is a challenge to several local authorities. For example, only at the designing stage, but the construction project for a hi-tech waste treatment plant in Dong A Commune (Dong Hung District - Thai Binh Province) has received much objection from inhabitants there as the location of the factory is too close to the residential area.

Obviously, this project has not learnt from the incident five years ago in Huong Khe District of Ha Tinh Province. At that time, hundreds of local dwellers in Huong Thuy Commune came to stop the ground-breaking ceremony for a waste treatment plant because the site was on top of the hill and the water source for domestic and agricultural uses.

The HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment has proposed that an effective way to stop nasty odors coming from waste treatment sites is to plant trees as barriers. Sadly, its two tree planting projects around the Northwest Solid Waste Treatment Complex (on a scale of 197ha with an investment of VND70 billion (US$2.98 million)) and Da Phuoc Waste Treatment Complex (on a scale of 269ha with an investment of VND1 trillion ($42.6 million)) are behind schedule due to tardiness in land retrieval.

Chairman Huynh Minh Nhut of the Urban Environment and Industrial Park Association in the Southern Region stated that waste collection and transport in HCMC show various inadequacies. The private units responsible for this task have no specific legal entity, leading to loose management on their maintenance of sanitation, schedule, and service fee, greatly annoying city dwellers.

In this context, some garbage collectors in the districts of 3, 4, Binh Thanh, Go Vap, and Thu Duc City are adopting digital transformation in their job. They have introduced E.GRAC.VN (in short GRAC), installed on smart devices and exploiting Big Data - Cloud Server. The app has useful features of monitoring service fee and paying fee online, sending reports and complaints, scheduling bulky garbage or recycling waste collection, providing instruction on categorizing waste at source.

Thanks to the app, local authorities find it easier to manage garbage collectors and ensure transparency in service fee collection. Hence, the proportion of complaints on the task has reduced by more than half, while the performance is optimized for better results thanks to clear and consistent data, resources saving.

Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Thi Thanh My commented that several districts in the city have been carrying out digital transformation in waste collection and transport. Despite only in the piloting stage, the process has shown positive signs.

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