Environmental officials discuss tightening Gov't management over plastic waste imports

April 08, 2019 - 18:13
Many enterprises prefer importing plastic waste instead of recycling domestic plastic


A police officer checks plastic waste imported by an enterprise in District 2 in HCM City. Stricter management will be put over plastic waste imports to reduce environmental pollution. — Photo tuoitre.vn

HÀ NỘI — Many experts have raised concerns about the import of thousands of containers of plastic, and proposed raising fees for importing plastic waste to Việt Nam and then using it as materials.

Hoàng Văn Thức, deputy director of the Vietnam Environment Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), said in the draft decree giving guidance to implement the Law on Environment Protection, the MONRE proposed adding regulations about plastic waste management.

One of them proposes that from the onset of 2025, Việt Nam will allow enterprises to import plastic waste for materials for high value products only. Another new regulation is that enterprises can import 70 per cent of their materials only, and the remaining 30 per cent must be from domestic recycled plastic waste.  

In the short term, to tighten management on plastic waste imports, Thức said the MONRE proposed banning some of the plastic most harmful to the environment.

However, many enterprises prefer importing plastic waste instead of recycling domestic plastic.

A spokesman of the Vietnam Plastic Association (VPA) said in 2013-17, Việt Nam imported 91,400 tonnes of plastic waste per year, fourth out of the 10 ASEAN countries.

A recent study by Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper showed domestic plastic waste was not separated at its source by families, so it was mixed with different waste, explaining why enterprises preferred to import plastic waste that has been separated.

The spokesman of the VPA also shared his fear that if enterprises did not use local materials, in the long term, the country’s plastic sector would lose its competitiveness and firms would be bought out by multinationals.

Professor Đặng Kim Chi, an expert from the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, said capping firms’ material imports at 70 per cent was a good idea.

“If we do not implement the regulation, our country could become a place containing many kinds of waste from other countries,” she said.

Âu Anh Tuấn, acting director of the Customs Control and Supervision Department under the Vietnam Customs, said that at present, enterprises are allowed to import plastic waste only when they have valid certificates.

At present, nearly 10,000 containers containing plastic waste are lying in different ports across the country. Most of them are in the Hải Phòng and Cát Lái ports, according to Vietnam Customs.

The Law on Customs regulates that if no one receives import goods within three months, enterprises must re-export the goods.

To tackle plastic waste at ports, the Government has founded an inspection team led by the Ministry of Finance.

The VPA calculated that by 2023, the plastic sector will need about 10 million tonnes of plastic materials for domestic production and export. Việt Nam can produce 2.6 million tonnes, the remaining 7.4 million tonnes needs to be imported. — VNS