HCM City seeks to encourage people's habit of classifying waste at its source

October 16, 2023 - 09:00
Although the programme of classifying household solid waste at its source has been piloted and implemented for many years in HCM City, it has not been highly effective, because most people are not aware of the importance of waste classification.
Unsorted trash in HCM City. Many residents remain unaware of the importance of classifying waste. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Giang

HCM CITY — Every day, HCM City generates about 10,000 tonnes of household solid waste, of which plastic and other recyclable waste accounts for about 1,800 tonnes, however, the city has not had a recyclable waste collection network.

Separating recyclable waste remains a considerable problem.

Concerned authorities are urgently seeking solutions to strengthen people's habit of classifying waste at its source.

Low effectiveness

Trần Nguyên Hiền, head of the Solid Waste Management Division under the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE), said that since 2013, the municipal Party Committee, People's Committee and People's Council had issued many documents regulating domestic solid waste classification at its source based on the Law on Environmental Protection 2013.

From 2016 up to now, the city has expanded its domestic solid waste classification programme, which has classified household solid waste into two groups: reusable waste and other waste.

HCM City is preparing to change the household solid waste classification into three groups, including: household solid waste that can be reused and recycled; organic waste; and other solid waste, following the Law on Environmental Protection 2020.

Hiền said that classifying solid waste at its source was an urgent solution to help the people and improve waste collection, transport and treatment technology.

If implemented successfully, it will help managers and treatment units have many solutions in treating and recycling waste, which brings great value not only to the environment but also the economy and the society.

In fact, although the programme of classifying household solid waste at its source has been piloted and implemented for many years in HCM City, it has not been highly effective, because most people are not aware of the importance of waste classification.

Currently, offices, schools, supermarkets, large restaurants and cafes, and apartment complexes are interested in implementing the programme.

But most people in residential areas still store all kinds of trash together.

Many of them, when asked about waste classification, are even surprised.

Hà Huỳnh Hồng Thu, who lives in Tân Bình District, said that her family knew about the regulations of classifying waste at its source from the media, but local authorities had not instructed them how to do it.

They also did not punish violators, so she had not done it.

Điền Trần Bảo Long, who lives in District 6, said that his family always separated household waste into two types: organic waste and plastic waste. But when the collection unit put the trash in its lorry, the workers put all of the trash together.

“They even open the two bags and mix both types together, so after a few times, my family stopped classifying the garbage,” said Long.

According to Huỳnh Minh Nhựt, director of the HCM City Urban Environment Company Limited (CITENCO), many people are aware of classifying waste according to regulations.

But when environmental sanitation workers collect trash, they put all types of waste together, so people get frustrated and no longer separate waste.

This is because the current cost of collecting classified waste is not calculated correctly or fully. Therefore, utility companies cannot arrange enough workers and vehicles to handle classified waste.

Another reason is that HCM City has many small, winding alleys. The waste collection companies have to use rudimentary vehicles such as three-wheeled carts, auto-rickshaws, 660-litre tanks or homemade vehicles.

These vehicles are not designed to collect sorted waste, so even if people voluntarily do the sorting, when collecting, sanitation workers still put all types of waste together for transport.

This has a huge impact on people's awareness, and gradually no one wants to classify trash anymore.

Nhựt added that private waste collection forces in the city did not well coordinate with public ones, leaving difficulties for the city's urban waste management.


To effectively classify waste, Nhựt thought that the city needed to synchronise management units from collection and transport to treatment.

The city should also synchronise the infrastructure for receiving and classifying waste at collection units.

The garbage collection schedule should be divided into different days per week according to each type of garbage.

The collection unit could refuse to collect waste if people do not classify it into the correct type of waste according to the prescribed schedule.

Private waste collection forces must be well co-ordinated with public ones.

Local authorities needed to coordinate with concerned agencies to promote education, helping people be aware of the economic and social benefits of classifying and recycling solid waste.

In addition, said Nhựt, the city must have sanctions when people do not classify waste.

At present, it still only encourages the people, without checks or sanctions, according to Decree 155/2016/NĐ-CP, for not classifying solid waste at its source.

To ensure classification of waste into three groups according to the Law on Environmental Protection 2020, the DONRE has asked localities to work with collection units to review trash transport vehicles and transfer stations to ensure that after classification, the waste will be stored and treated correctly.

District people’s committees will gather statistics on recycling companies to assess whether they can meet the city's recyclable waste requirement. — VNS