Hoang Duong Tung, Deputy Head of Environment General Department, spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about the tax on plastic bags that are not environmentally friendly.
What are your thoughts on the tax on plastic bags? Does it work?
The implementation of the environmental protection tax on plastic bags helped to encourage manufacturers to produce more environmentally-friendly plastic bags as well as to limit the use of persistent materials in producing plastic bags.
In addition, some targets set by the scheme on strengthening control over pollution caused by plastic bags have been achieved.
The target to have the number of plastic bags used in supermarkets and malls fall by 40 per cent compared to 2010 was realised in 2015 in some big cities.
According to reports from provinces and cities' people's committee, traditional plastic bags that are hard to dissolve have been replaced with environmentally-friendly plastic bags in 90 per cent of supermarket and mall chains including Big C, Maximark, Vinmart, Fivimart and Co.op Mart in HCM City, Ha Noi, Da Nang, Can Tho, Hai Phong, Nam Dinh, Quang Ninh, Thanh Hoa, Vinh, Khanh Hoa, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai and Binh Duong.
Environmentally-friendly plastic bags are also more commonly used in other localities' shopping mall centres.
The shortcomings lie in traditional markets. Traditional plastic bags that are hard to dissolve are still common in these markets.
Though efforts have been made, relevant authorities still fail to efficiently manage the tax payment from small and very small plastic bag manufacturers. These establishments are likely to not pay environmental protection taxes. Local retailers continue to use these bags due to their low cost.
More measures should be made available. Along with strengthening controls over tax collection, authorities also need to raise consumer awareness.
Will there be any changes on plastic bag given that there have been complaints about the effectiveness of current regulations?
In 2012, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources issued Circular 02/2012 stipulating criteria, procedures to have plastic bags recognised as being environmentally-friendly.
The Circular was based on the feedback from enterprises and was issued to encourage and facilitate enterprises in producing environmentally-friendly plastic bags.
Three years after implementation, there are 32 kinds of plastic bags from 27 enterprises being recognised as environmentally-friendly. This shows that the enterprises have been encouraged.
The General Department of Environment will collaborate with relevant authorities to inspect the plastic bag manufacturing establishments and strengthen communication work to limit the use of plastic bags and encourage recycled plastic bags.
What are your thoughts on the idea of charging consumers and businesses that frequently use plastic bags?
Regarding measures to control the pollution caused by plastic bag use, strengthening the enforcement of the environmental protection tax law must be taken into account.
Market management agencies and tax agencies needs to collaborate more with each other to inspect plastic bag manufacturers, making sure they pay tax as stipulated by law.
By doing this, those complying with the regulations are encouraged.
We should encourage locals to use environmentally-friendly plastic bags and to reuse them.
On the other hand, it is necessary to encourage manufacturers to reduce the cost of environmentally-friendly plastic bags and to make more policies available to limit the use of plastic bags. For instance, plastic bags should not be made free in supermarkets but be charged at a reasonable price so that consumers use them properly. — VNS