Global threat, local action

Friday, 2018-07-06 16:58:18
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Volunteers collect garbage in Ha Long Bay (Photo: VNA)
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NDO - A campaign to reduce plastic waste is being launched in many countries to call for action to limit the use of disposable plastic in daily life and at the workplace. Positive change from each individual and locality can create a change in the perception of the community, contributing to the handling of this global anxiety.

“Rescuing” the Earth

As a National Geographic Channel explorer, Jenna Jambeck, of the University of Georgia, has conducted a number of research projects related to the transformation of pollutants, including solid waste. Jambeck is also the developer of the online waste map idea, which manages solid waste management on electronic devices in order to control the source of garbage.

The World Environment Day in 2018 was organised by the United Nations with the theme “Resolving pollution caused by plastic and nylon”. Some 300 million tonnes of plastic are reportedly produced around the world every year, half of which is used to produce single-use items, such as shopping bags, bottles, cups and straws. One million plastic bags are used around the world every minute.

The UN Environment Programme is urging governments, industries, communities and individuals around the world to take on a daunting but necessary task: Beat Plastic Pollution. “Plastic pollution has become an epidemic,” the agency writes. “Every year, we throw away enough plastic to circle the Earth four times. Much of that waste doesn't make it into a landfill, but instead ends up in our oceans, where it's responsible for killing one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year. For the good of the planet, it's time to rethink how we use plastic.”

Vietnam is one of the countries where a large amount of solid waste is discharged into the sea each year. Even in Ha Long Bay, a World Natural Heritage where there are more stringent environmental regulations than many other areas in the country, there is still a large amount of waste from a variety of sources. The programme “Action for a Green Ha Long” is annually organised by the Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is part of the Ha Long-Cat Ba Alliance, a three-year initiative financed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Volunteers that joined the previous events collected four tonnes of waste, mostly float buoys and plastic garbage. More than 100 participants at this year’s programme, who were representatives from cruisers, travel agents, tourism and hotel colleges, non-governmental organisations and press agencies, learnt about “zero waste” and its application in tourism.

Community-based approach

In addition to global environmental campaigns, in order to create a positive change in policies and public awareness, many plastic waste minimisation programmes have been carried out to inspire the community.

As many as 22 embassies in Vietnam and various international organisations marked the World Environment Day (June 5) by signing a Code of Conduct on Combating Plastic Pollution. By signing the Code of Conduct, the international partners have committed to assessing their current office practices in terms of single-use plastic and instituting operational changes to minimise their plastic waste footprint. All of the signatories agreed to engage their staff in reducing plastic waste and encourage their partners to adopt low or no-plastic waste-emitting options. The campaign, spearheaded by the Embassy of Canada in Vietnam, seeks to raise awareness on the negative impacts of plastic pollution, while advocating changes at the behavioural, institutional and policy levels to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated in Vietnam.

With the framework of the Municipal Waste Recycling Programme, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported the Centre for Marine life Conservation and Community Development (MCD) to implement two pilot projects on plastic waste management in Quang Ninh and Nam Dinh provinces. In addition to addressing shortcomings in solid waste management, the two projects also provide innovative approaches to improve the local waste management capacity. According to a representative from the MCD, it is necessary to create closer coordination among the people, local authorities and organisations both at home and abroad in order to reduce waste and increase the number of beneficiaries from the projects.