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Vietnam has low plastic consumption, but huge plastic waste: association

Thursday, May 16, 2019, 17:01 GMT+7
Vietnam has low plastic consumption, but huge plastic waste: association
Representatives of the Vietnam Plastics Association and the Ho Chi Minh City Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment sign their cooperation agreement on May 15, 2019. Photo: T.V.N / Tuoi Tre

While Vietnam's plastic consumption per capita is far lower than its Asian neighbors, the Southeast Asian country is still among the top five countries in the world in terms of producing plastic waste, the Vietnam Plastics Association (VPA) said at an event on Wednesday.

Each Vietnamese consumes approximately 45 kilogams of plastic per year compared to the 200kg consumed by each Japanese and 150kg by each Thai, VPA chairman Ho Duc Lam said at a ceremony to sign documents marking its cooperation with the Ho Chi Minh City Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment.

But the amount of plastic waste produced by the country is much bigger, according to Lam, who added Vietnamese households discharge 80,000 metric tons of waste into the environment each day.

Of that amount, plastic waste makes up three to five percent, equivalent to 2,400-4,000 metric tons.

Lam noted that only 20 percent of the plastic waste is recycled.

Vietnam is among countries which discharge the largest amount of plastic waste into the ocean, according to a report released by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on March 5.

The report, however, did not show the specific amount of plastic waste thrown away by Vietnam and other nations in the top positions.

Plastic bags are one of the most common forms of plastic disposed of the most by the Southeast Asian country, according to Lam.

Approximately, 25,000 metric tons of plastic bags are consumed in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on a monthly basis.

As for other forms of single-use plastic, the country’s dairy industry uses up to eight billion plastic straws annually.   

Given the low recycling rate of plastic items in Vietnam, these figures translate into massive amounts of plastic waste.

At Wednesday’s ceremony, Lam emphasized the importance of waste classification and raising people’s awareness of the reduction of plastic use.

“Although plastic is undeniably necessary in daily life, it is more important to build people’s awareness of the appropriate use of plastic, in order to minimize impacts on the environment,” the VPA chairman said.

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