Great danger from harmful habit of using non-degradable plastic bags

Along with the average annual growth rate of 16-18 percent of the plastic industry is a huge amount of plastic waste, becoming a heavy burden to the environment.
A dweller in HCMC is using a plastic bag to carry the purchased items

A dweller in HCMC is using a plastic bag to carry the purchased items

Each morning, Nguyen Thi Be from An Khanh Ward of Thu Duc City goes grocery shopping in a nearby market. Since most purchased goods are carried inside plastic bags, she throws away tens of bags every day after storing or cooking the items.

This is one typical example of how consumers are using non-degradable plastic bags these days. Thanks to their convenience and cheapness, plastic bags have become an indispensable part of everyday life in urban as well as rural areas.

Environmental experts warned that without proper treatment, used plastic bags are a serious menace contributing to land and water pollution, which might in turn harm human’s health besides causing local flooding.

Statistics from the Industrial Safety Techniques and Environment Agency (under the Industry and Trade Ministry) reveal that each year, Vietnam throws away 30 billion plastic bags of all kinds, and about 10.5-52.4 tonnes of plastic bags are consumed every day in urban areas. Sadly, only 17 percent of them are recycled.

Another survey by the above agency on consumers nationwide about one-time plastic merchandise use shows that more than a half disposes them of, and merely 13-16 percent clean them for reuse. This is rather harmful to the environment, yet because of their convenience and durability, plastic bags are still a favorite choice to carry goods.

According to the Vietnam Waste Recycling Association, lately in the country, the plastic industry has made use of 5.9 million tonnes of virgin plastic material, equal to an average consumption of 63kg per person per year. This is much higher than the global rate of 46kg per person per year.

Chairman Tran Viet Anh of this Association commented that current policies in Vietnam on limiting the use of non-degradable packaging are not truly practical, and thus asking for more synchronous measures from functional agencies.

In particular, packaging businesses should develop a detailed plan to reduce manufacturing daily-use plastic bags and replace them with recycled products. Citizens should shift to reusable bags or biodegradable plastic bags. The authorities should increase their monitoring of recycling activities and the use of plastic bags in department stores, supermarkets, and traditional markets as well as the production of non-degradable plastic bags.

The Industrial Safety Techniques and Environment Agency proposed that state management units need to complete a legal frame to promote waste circulation, recycling, and reuse; to take better advantage of international financial aids in distributing eco-friendly merchandise. It is also necessary to form close collaboration among different state agencies during policy adoption to avoid overlapping and inefficiency.

Pham Hong Hiep from the Vietnam Institute of Strategy and Policy for Industry and Trade (under the Ministry of Industry and Trade) suggested that no later than the end of 2023, the Government should introduce a route to stop manufacturing and importing disposable plastic goods while introducing more supporting policies for the use and production of environmentally friendly materials to replace non-degradable ones.

The People’s Committees of all provinces and municipalities should deliver essential instruction on the stop of using disposable plastic goods as well as plastic packaging in malls, supermarkets, hotels, resorts, together with proper plastic waste management.

The HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment informed that the city has already issued various dispatches to relevant state agencies and the People’s Committees of all districts and Thu Duc City, asking them to increase their management of plastic use in order to reduce waste as well as recycling it. The city has also listened to proposals from organizations and individuals on waste collection and recycling.

It is expected in the 2023-2025 period, HCMC is going to develop suitable supporting mechanisms and policies for the reduction of plastic waste and the increase in recycling, reuse of this waste type. After being reviewed, those mechanisms and policies will be applied citywide.

HCMC has also launched several key schemes like the movement against plastic waste, the plan to increase the management, recycling, reuse, and treatment of plastic waste in the 2022-2025 period, with a vision to 2030.

Other news