“Polluter pays principle” highlighted in VN’s amended Environment Protection Bill

June 04, 2020 - 13:46

Those who discharge more waste or fail to classify their rubbish could pay higher environmental fees.


Waste on Đông Tác Street in Hà Nội's Đống Đa District.  — VNA/VNS Photo Danh Lam

HÀ NỘI — Those who discharge more waste or fail to classify their rubbish could pay higher environmental fees.

These are two new parts of the draft amended Law on Environment, which has been introduced to the National Assembly’s agenda last month and is open for public discussion.

At a press briefing about the draft law on Wednesday, vice head of Việt Nam Environment Administration under the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Nguyễn Thượng Hiền, said that State management over solid waste in Việt Nam was inadequate.

Ministries and agencies were involved in overseeing the issue, resulting in overlaps and a lack of co-operation, he said, adding that improper solid waste management threatened social order and security. For example, some people are very concerned about dumping sites that cause pollution to soil and underground water.

Hiền said that waste classification at source had not become common in Việt Nam, while the country had few policies or mechanisms to promote waste classification, consequently, more and more waste was produced and discharged into the environment.  

“The current law on environment protection does not have any regulations on the “polluter-pays principle”, so it fails to encourage people to reduce, reuse, recycle and classify the waste at source,” Hiền said.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the polluter-pays principle is the principle according to which the polluter should bear the cost of measures to reduce pollution to the extent of either the damage done to society or the exceeding of an acceptable level of pollution.

He said that the drafted amendments to the Law on Environment were expected to solve the shortcomings, with a highlight on the polluter-pays principle instead of current regulations in which everyone pays the same fee regardless of how much waste they produce and discharge.

Under the draft bill, solid waste generated from daily activities should be classified into five groups: recyclable solid waste, food waste or readily biodegradable organic waste, dangerous waste, bulky waste and other common waste.

“If waste is classified properly at source, the amount of waste that needs to be treated would be reduced and payment for waste treatment would fall too,” Hiền said.

The classified daily waste would be put in special bags sold by local authorities. People pay waste treatment fees through buying such bags.

For recyclable waste, people can use their own bags without buying special ones from authorities.

It was expected that revenue from selling the bags could help cover 30-50 per cent of waste treatment costs in urban areas in Việt Nam, Hiền said.

Phan Tuấn Hùng, head of the Legal Affairs Department under the Environment Ministry, said that the supervisory role of social political organisations like the Việt Nam Fatherland Front, associations of women, youth, elderly and residential groups should be included in the law to ensure proper waste classification, collection, transport and treatment.

“The right public awareness and actions over the issue are the most important factor in implementing the law effectively,” Hùng said.

According to the Việt Nam Environment Administration, about 61,000 tonnes of solid waste is produced in Việt Nam daily, of which 24,000 tonnes is from rural areas.

The volume of solid waste increased from 28 million tonnes in 2009 to 35.7 million tonnes in 2015 and continues to increase by about ten per cent yearly. — VNS