HANOI July 25, 2022 — The majority of plastics polluting Vietnam’s waterways are single-use, low-value items such as plastic bags, food containers, and straws, according to a World Bank study launched today. To address the pollution caused by these items, Vietnam needs a progressive phase-out, accompanied by the promotion of viable alternatives, and an improved solid waste management system.
Vietnam: Plastic Pollution Diagnostics shows that plastic waste is by far the most abundant type of waste collected in river and coastal sites, accounting for 94 percent of the number of items and 71 percent by weight. The top ten most common plastic items account for more than 80 percent of the total plastic waste ending up in waterways. Most of these items are single use.
“Rapid economic growth, urbanization, and changing lifestyles in Vietnam have led to a country-wide plastic pollution crisis,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “This study shows that single-use plastic items make up a large portion of plastic pollution in Vietnam, and addressing their use will make a big difference.”
An estimated 3.1 million metric tons of plastic waste is discharged on land in Vietnam, and at least 10 percent of this goes into the ocean every year. The Vietnam National Plastics Action Partnership says the amount of plastic in waterways could more than double by 2030 if the country’s current waste collection, recycling, and treatment processes are not improved.
A related World Bank report, Toward a National Single-use Plastics Roadmap in Vietnam, proposes a gradual effort to combat this pollution through a mix of policy instruments and fiscal mechanisms, progressing from restrictions and fees to bans.
International experience shows that the benefits of phasing out single-use plastics outweigh the costs. However, effective transition requires a phased approach that offsets the losses of producers while preparing and creating incentives for consumers and industries to change their behavior. Beginning with the recommendation of restrictions on single-use plastics inside food establishments and in hotel toiletry products, the report also suggests imposing fees on non-biodegradable plastic bags and coffee-to-go cups. The roadmap gradually targets a market ban on plastic straws, non-biodegradable plastic bags and food containers.
The policy roadmap will help implement a recent government decree, designed to enforce plastic waste management issues under the Environmental Protection Law. The two reports are funded by PROBLUE, a multi-donor trust fund designed to help countries chart a course towards a sustainable blue economy.