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Plastic waste is gradually taking over the Earth

Humans are creating a disaster for themselves and those around them through seemingly harmless but highly dangerous habits. One of the most formidable enemies to the environment that we still use on a daily basis is plastic.

1. The situation of plastic waste in Vietnam

Vietnam, a small country with just over 90 million people, has a concerning consumption of plastic products, ranking fourth among 20 countries with the highest amount of plastic waste. Currently, our country disposes of approximately 1.8 million tons of plastic waste each year, including over 30 billion plastic bags, sadly, more than 80% of these bags are discarded after single use. Notably, an estimated 0.28 to 0.73 million tons of plastic waste are dumped into the sea, equivalent to 6% of the world's total plastic waste dumped into the ocean.

Plastic waste pollution is one of the global environmental issues that Vietnam is facing. However, the treatment and recycling of plastic waste are still very limited. Up to 90% of plastic waste is handled through landfilling and incineration, with only 10% being recycled. According to statistics, on average, each household uses about 1kg of plastic bags per month. In the case of the two major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the amount of plastic waste released into the environment is quite significant, averaging 80 tons of plastic waste and bags per day. Among all types of household solid waste, plastic waste and bags account for 8% to 12%, but only about 11% to 12% of this plastic waste and bags are treated and recycled.

Plastic waste is always present around us. Source: Collected.

When it comes to medical waste, approximately 5% of it is plastic waste. Each day, around 22 tons of plastic waste are generated from healthcare activities, including hazardous waste such as medicines and chemicals. These items are difficult to recycle, and their collection and treatment require multiple steps and advanced technologies.

In Vietnam, the most common types of plastic waste include soft plastic fragments, fishing gear, plastic bags, foam food containers, plastic straws, and more. Over 60% of these plastic waste items are single-use products that are not recycled. Most of this waste is disposed of in the ocean, rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams, causing water pollution and threatening underwater organisms. Additionally, marine pollution poses a threat to food supplies and the livelihoods of millions of people living along the coast. The tourism industry in Vietnam is also in a state of red alert as water pollution worsens. The tourism GDP of 28 coastal provinces accounts for 6.1% of the national GDP. As tourism numbers increase, there is a corresponding increase in waste generation, while infrastructure and waste management technologies still have many limitations.

2. Some solutions to address the plastic waste situation

Currently, environmental protection is the focal point of global attention. The well-being of humans depends on the environment in which we live. Climate change, global warming, and environmental pollution are pressing issues that countries around the world, including Vietnam, are facing. Currently, the most common and widely discussed solution is plastic neutralization, which is implemented through the collection and subsequent recycling or reuse of plastic waste.

Vietnam has set a target to reduce 75% of plastic waste in the oceans by 2030 and collect 100% of lost or discarded fishing gear. Other targets include: no single-use plastic products, organizing collection campaigns, cleaning beaches, and regularly monitoring plastic waste.

Vietnam needs to synchronize solutions to address the issue of plastic waste and raise public awareness, specifically:

  • Improve legal regulations to serve the development of a circular economy. A circular economy is an economic model in which design, production, and services aim to prolong the lifespan of materials and eliminate negative impacts on the environment. Manufacturers and distributors need to understand their responsibilities and tasks in terms of recovery, sorting, recycling, and the cost of handling the waste. Additionally, establish a roadmap for developing and implementing environmental protection standards. Promote the issuance of incentive policies and invest in technology equipment to support industries related to the environment, especially the recycling industry.

Some solutions to address plastic waste. Source: Collected.

  • Building a deep economic growth model and applying advanced scientific and technological methods to regenerate new sources of raw materials. Establishing processes to replace hazardous raw materials with environmentally friendly fuel sources, gradually reducing dependence on fossil fuels and hydropower.
  • To achieve the goal of a circular economy in the near future, businesses must change their mindset and approach to product life cycles. Instead of producing cheap, short-lived, and low-durability items, manufacturers now need to focus on product quality and green development processes.
  • Developing a communication strategy on sustainable production, raising public awareness of the significant harm caused by plastic waste and the importance of waste sorting. From there, persuading individuals to change their shopping habits and understand their responsibility to the community.
Author: InterLOG
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