Phuc Long, a popular coffee and tea chain in Vietnam, has been accused of lying about its recycling initiative after a customer discovered that all garbage thrown into the “waste-sorting” bin at one of the chain’s outlets ended up in one same trash bag.
In a now-viral photo posted to a Facebook account under the name of Daisy Tran on September 19, a recycle bin at a Phuc Long store in Ho Chi Minh City features ten different feeding holes for different types of trash, including paper cups, plastic cups, lids, paper towels, and so on.
However, as the photo clearly shows, a single giant bag is placed underneath to collect trash from all of those holes regardless of their recycling category.
“Going green can be costly and inconvenient for an enterprise,” writes Daisy Tran in her post.
“You can choose not to follow the trend, but please don’t blatantly lie to customers in such a condescending manner.”
The post, ended with Tran saying that was her “last time visiting Phuc Long,” has since attracted over 16,000 ‘reactions’ and 6,700 comments, and has been shared more than 4,800 times across the social media as of Tuesday afternoon.
|A waste-sorting bin installed at a Phuc Long store in Ho Chi Minh City is seen in this photo posted to the Facebook account Daisy Tran on September 18, 2019.|
In the comment section, users condemned Phuc Long for what they called a failed PR move. Others defended the coffee chain, saying it could have been an isolated incident at that specific store that does not reflect Phuc Long’s policies.
In a statement sent to Vietnamese newspaper Phap Luat Online, Phuc Long’s marketing head Vo Thi Bich Lien said the waste-sorting bins installed at two of its Ho Chi Minh City stores were part of a pilot scheme on enhanced recycling.
All Phuc Long outlets already practices sorting waste into three basic categories - papers, liquids, and plastics - but the scheme looked to further sort garbage into ten smaller groups for more effective recycling, Lien said.
The scheme was a collaboration project between Phuc Long and a garbage processing company.
“There were shortcomings that arose during the pilot period, and we are looking for more optimized measures [of sorting waste],” Phap Luat quoted Lien as saying the statement.
“The state of our recycle bins has therefore been reverted back to before the change as we search for new solutions.”
|A barista prepares drinks at a Phuc Long coffee and tea store in this photo posted to the company's Facebook page on April 12, 2019.|
Phuc Long stores have since July 15 switched plastic straws for paper and corn starch alternatives that are more friendly for the environment, the company said.
Phuc Long also encourages customers to bring their own reusable cups to reduce waste, it added.
In March, the Vietnamese coffee and tea chain also caused uproar after it announced a new delivery policy which would see ice cubes being stored in a separate cup for “food safety and hygiene”.
The move was heavily criticized for producing more unnecessary plastic waste, forcing Phuc Long to retract its announcement after only 24 hours.
Phuc Long operates nearly 50 stores in seven Vietnamese cities and provinces.
The company reported VND473 billion (US$20.4 million) in revenue in 2018, behind Highlands Coffee, Starbucks and The Coffee House in the Vietnamese market.