Take-away food packaging makes up most plastic waste in Vietnam: survey

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By Minh Nga   July 28, 2022 | 08:00 am GMT+7

Take-away food packaging makes up most plastic waste in Vietnam: survey

Take-away food and drink packaging is dumped in a public site in Thu Thiem New Urban Area in HCMC, May 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh TranGarbage from take-away food and drinks make up 44 percent of plastic waste found at surveyed sites in Vietnam, according to the World Bank.

Plastic waste at both surveyed river and coastal sites across Vietnam came mostly from take-away-related sources.

Take-away related waste accounted for 43.6 percent in number and 35.1 percent in weight of the total plastic waste, followed by fisheries-related waste (32.6 percent in number and 30.6 percent in weight), and household-related waste (21.6 percent in number and 22.8 percent in weight), according to a World Bank report released this week.Total amount of plastic waste by source on surveyed sites in Vietnam2020-2021Take-away related wasteTake-away related wasteFisheries related waseFisheries related waseHousehold related wasteHousehold related wasteAgriculture related-wasteAgriculture related-wasteSanitary and medical related wasteSanitary and medical related wasteTake-away related waste●

 volume (%): 43.6

Agriculture- and medical-related plastics comprised only about 1 percent in number and 3 to 8 percent in weight, said the report, conducted from July 2020 to April 2021 in response to a request from Vietnam’s government to deepen knowledge about the different plastic waste types leaking into the country’s rivers and ocean, and identify their market alternatives for potential substitution.

The waste amount was surveyed in 24 river sites and 14 coastal sites, in 10 different cities and provinces: Lao Cai and Hai Phong in the north, Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Khanh Hoa in the central region, and Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Kien Giang and Soc Trang in the south.

In each location, three to four survey sites were selected, comprising both coastal and river areas, with each site spreading at least 100 meters long in parallel with the water. For each location, at least two team members, together with six to ten local volunteers, carried out the surveys.

It was found that single-use plastic items accounted for 72 percent (in number) of the total plastic waste identified at riverbanks and 52 percent (in number) of the total plastic waste identified at coastal sites in the field surveys. Of those items, plastic bags and their fragments were the most common single-use items in the survey locations. Styrofoam food containers were among the top five items in both river and coastal locations.

The report suggested that addressing plastic pollution caused by single-use items should not be based on replacing those items with non-plastic single-use items, or plastic multi-use items, because “both may have negative impacts, and not align with Vietnam’s goal of a more circular economy.”

Thus, in promoting alternative products, the focus should be on promoting reusable, non-plastic items that support the overall reduction in the generation of plastic waste.

“Much greater effort is required to educate Vietnam’s population about waste reduction, reuse, and halting littering, in order to reduce the demand for low-utility plastic, support more cost-effective waste management infrastructure, and reduce littering that ends up in rivers and the ocean,” it said.

According to data released last year by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, plastic waste accounts for 7 percent of the solid waste discharged every day in Vietnam, or nearly 2,500 tons.

Some 0.28-0.73 million tons of plastic waste enter the country’s seas every year.

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