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Current tax law on plastic bags confuses consumers and producers

Update: February, 17/2012 - 15:17

HA NOI – The ill-defined tax law aimed to discourage the use of plastic bags and reduce their harmful impacts on the environment, has been in effect for nearly two months but remains confusing to both consumers and plastic bag producers.

Although earlier Vietnam Plastic Association (VPA) had asked the authorities to lay out criteria for manufacturing environmental friendly bags before they begin to tax plastic bags, until now those required criteria have not been met.

That leads to the fact that consumers are unable to distinguish the harmful bags from recycled bags, which are exempt from the tax, while plastic bag producers, because of the high tax rate of VND40,000 (US$1.9) per kg on plastic bags, are hesitating to revamp their old-fashioned production facilities.

Many of them are thinking about stopping their current production by importing bags from other ASEAN countries such as Indonesia and Thailand due to the law.

"Recycled bags are those made from old plastic bags and packaging, and they must be carefully assessed according to a set of strict criteria in order to be deemed eco-friendly plastic products," explained Vietnam Environment Administration deputy director general Duong Hoang Tung.

However, like the tax law, the strict criteria mentioned above are not clear enough to makes both consumers and plastic bag producers confident to use and produce.

Each person uses about 30-35kg of plastic each year from 2005-2011 and about 2,500 tonnes of plastic waste is discharged daily across the country, more than three times the volume in 2000. Between 60 to 70 per cent of plastic waste that is thrown away is collected and treated, according to figures from Ha Noi's Natural Resources and Environment Department.

The new law is expected to better control and minimise air pollution as companies must take more responsibility on environmental protection to survive and develop in a sustainable manner. — VNS

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