Phu Quoc Island off the coast of Kien Giang Province in southern Vietnam is mired in a garbage crisis, and waste treatment solutions seem ineffective.
The island city discharges some 180 metric tons of solid waste and 17,500 cubic meters of wastewater daily.
By 2025, the pearl island, among top-rated tourist destinations in Vietnam, will need to treat 400-650 metric tons of garbage per day.
Open-air waste dumps
Garbage in Phu Quoc is dumped at a temporary landfill in the Dong Cay Sao area in Cua Duong Commune.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters found that the volume of garbage at the landfill has tripled in the last two months. The odor from the garbage and leachate is terrible.
Meanwhile, a waste treatment plant in Bai Bon Hamlet, Ham Ninh Commune whose investor is Minh Thuan Thanh Construction Investment Co. Ltd. will be operated on a trial basis over the next two months.
A project assessment report will be released after the trial operation period.
If the plant’s waste treatment results are promising, the investor will receive official investment approval from local authorities.
However, even when the plant is in place, it can treat only part of the garbage on the island. The remaining garbage will still be gathered in the Dong Cay Sao area.
In reality, refuse can be seen everywhere in the city due to the habit of littering in public places by local residents and tourists. A large volume of litter has drifted out to sea.
On weekends, when tourists flock to tourist sites, such as restaurants, hotels, and beaches in Phu Quoc, trash piles up there.
“Cau Palace, Vem Canal, areas along Tran Phu Street and the international seaport fishing village in Phu Quoc are beautiful but choked with trash,” said Nguyen Canh Quan, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City who went on a three-day-two-night trip to Phu Quoc.
Quan and his friends spent an afternoon collecting waste on the beach near the international seaport.
Residents voluntarily collect waste
Completely in love with Phu Quoc, Quan always chooses the island as his destination whenever he gets a chance.
During his trips to the pearl island after the COVID-19 pandemic, he spends time collecting waste on beaches.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Vu Dinh Nga, head of the Propaganda and Training Commission of the Coast Guard Region 4 High Command, in response to the 'Day for Phu Quoc Environment' campaign, some 500 guards volunteer to collect waste on beaches on the first Saturday of every month.
“We have collected and treated dozens of metric tons of garbage, including plastic bags, cups and bottles, and other kinds of garbage," Nga said.
“The collected garbage is classified and treated properly in association with the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union in Phu Quoc City and environment companies.
“With this practical act, we expect to contribute to preserving and protecting the marine environment in Phu Quoc."
Spending more than seven years working as a volunteer to clean up waste in Phu Quoc, Tran Van Sanh, leader of the Phu Quoc Green and Clean group and an environmental ambassador of Phu Quoc, shared that he, his friends, and volunteers started collecting garbage in Phu Quoc in 2015 with an aim to protect the marine environment.
His group currently has more than 20 volunteers who collect waste along the Duong Dong River, the Dinh Cau Beach, a beach near Ho Quoc Pagoda, and other public beaches.
“The collected garbage is classified. The waste volume hovers between one and 14 metric tons," Sanh noted.
“We will continue collecting refuse to contribute to keeping the marine environment on the pearl island green and clean."
Nguyen Thanh Nhan, vice-chairman of Kien Giang Province, said the province had weighed the environmental effectiveness, economic benefits, and the cost of the solution of transporting part of Phu Quoc’s garbage to the mainland for treatment.
The plan is expected to get the nod soon, the provincial vice-chairman said.
A waste treatment plant in Bai Bon Hamlet, Ham Ninh Commune with a daily capacity of 200 metric tons will be put into trial operation in the near future.
Once the plant is put to use, it will treat a significant trash volume in Phu Quoc City.
Kien Giang has called on investors to develop waste treatment projects in Phu Quoc and the province as a whole.
The province annually allocates its budget for waste collection and treatment.
However, investors’ waste treatment technology and effectiveness have failed to meet the province’s requirements, Nhan added.