Turning waste into a resource

Friday, 2020-06-19 12:03:47
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Garbage-sorting bins in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: VNS)
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NDO – On average, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi produce about 9,000 tonnes and 6,500 tonnes of waste per day, respectively. In many countries around the world, a significant amount of waste is converted into a resource. While in Vietnam, waste is still a huge burden. To turn waste into a resource, or to recycle, the first step is to sort waste at its source. But, in fact, most Vietnamese people are still unfamiliar with that “first step”.

About 14 years ago, some wards in Hanoi had implemented waste sorting at source. In 2006, with the assistance of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Hanoi implemented a waste sorting project to promote environmental protection (Project 3R-reduce-reuse-recycle) in several districts.

People separated organic waste, plastic waste and recyclable waste, and then trucks from functional agencies would collect the waste. At that time, everyone expected that Project 3R would act as the "ignition" to form a habit of waste sorting, a motivation for Hanoi to implement waste treatment solutions, including recycling. But the project was only carried out until 2009. When funding ran out, the garbage classification also stopped.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the largest waste disposal area in the country, by the end of 2018, the city issued Decision No.44/2018/QD-UBND on the regulation of classification of daily-life solid waste at the source. But, up to now, there has been little change in waste sorting activities at the source.

In some areas where people have a sense of classification, after collecting, urban environment workers have even poured them into the same place. Lack of infrastructure and underdeveloped waste processing industry are still major obstacles.

Many programmes and projects on waste treatment have been promoted. But only a short while later, they were quietly ignored again. The collection of old batteries for recycling first appeared in Hanoi and some other cities about seven years ago.

Recently, there have been some businesses that have begun to recall old batteries. Life is increasingly modern, the amount of batteries discharged into the environment is increasing. Collecting and handling them appropriately is extremely necessary. But most people still maintain the habit of putting those toxic batteries directly in the trash.

In order to turn waste into a resource, it must first start with simple tasks such as sorting waste at the source. Measures must be carried out in a synchronous manner, instead of leaving the work unfinished like before.

Along with classification, reasonable mechanisms and policies must be developed to encourage businesses to invest in waste recycling and build the waste processing industry.