A number of disposable plastic products are used every day in Vietnam, and plastic waste can be found in every nook and cranny in big cities, but many positive changes are taking place, especially among the youth.
At the recent G20 Summit in Japan, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc emphasized that Vietnam is ‘at war’ with plastic waste and is making a significant effort to reach an ultimate goal that the whole country will not use disposable plastic products by 2025.
An increasing number of young Vietnamese people have already been making positive changes as they embraced a trend to switch from single-use plastics to eco-products, while food and beverage stores have also gone green.
The first single-use plastic item to be replaced with more environmentally friendly alternatives are straws.
Straws made of bamboos, glass, or steel, with prices varying from VND10,000 (US$0.4) to VND 50,000 ($2) apiece depending on quality, material, shape, and size, are now widely available in Ho Chi Minh City.
In the meantime, many beverage shops and restaurants started using bagasse-based boxes in lieu of plastic and foam products in an effort to reduce plastic waste. Some have also replaced disposable plastic spoons and forks with wooden alternatives.
For instance, at the Gong Cha Milk Tea store on Phan Xich Long Street in Phu Nhuan District, plastic straws are replaced with those made of bagasse, and cups come with paper, instead of plastic, lids.
The paper lids also feature a layer of biodegradable plastics, with their content printed using soy-based ink.
The store also provides biodegradable plastic bags, which degrade after six months, to take-away customers.
Another business that has jumped on the no-plastic bandwagon is Vietnamese cafe chain The Coffee House, which now serves its drink-in customers using glass and porcelain cups, which will be reused in six months before being replaced.
For their parts, more and more customers are bringing their own cups, bottles, and tumblers when buying tea and coffee so as to ‘say no’ single-use plastic cups.