Limiting plastic waste and nylon bags

The harm of plastics and nylon bags to the environment and human health is very significant. Therefore, the limitation of waste from plastics and nylon bags is an urgent requirement not only in Vietnam, but also in countries around the world.

Youth union members in  Hoi An city, Quang Nam province take part in a beach clean-up.
Youth union members in Hoi An city, Quang Nam province take part in a beach clean-up.

Hoang Van Thuc, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA), under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), said that the inception of products made from plastics and nylon has brought many benefits for human life, but the use of these products has left unpredictable consequences for the environment, human health and the wildlife system. Worrisomely, plastic and nylon products take hundreds of years, even up to thousands of years, to decompose. During that period, they hinder the growth and development of animal and plant species, while obstructing the infrastructure system in service of the people’s life, narrowing the living space of the organisms and poisoning the environment. In addition, plastic and plastic waste, when burned, will generate emissions containing dioxin and Furan – toxic substances that are long-lasting in the environment and directly affect human health.

A report of the United Nations shows that every year, the amount of discharged plastic waste is enough to surround the earth four times. Approx. one million plastic bags are consumed every minute, but only 27% of them are processed and recycled. Besides, plastic waste lying on the ocean floor becomes part of food poisoning marine species. Scientists forecast that the volume of plastic waste in the oceans by 2050 will be heavier than the weight of fish. Notably, Vietnam is ranked 17th out of 109 countries with a high level of plastic waste pollution in the world. According to statistics, each Vietnamese household often releases more than one plastic bag per day. Thus, there will be millions of plastic bags used and discharged into the environment every day. In the two largest cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City alone, an average of about 80 tonnes of plastics and nylon bags are discharged into the environment per day. This is a “burden” for the environment, which leads to a disaster that environmental experts call “white pollution”.

MONRE Minister Tran Hong Ha said that limiting waste from plastics and nylon has become an urgent requirement right now, starting with the gradual reduction of consumption of plastic and nylon products which are difficult to decompose, especially the single-use plastic products. Therefore, Vietnam needs to improve its legal regulations on the management and control of plastic waste, while issuing policies, concerning tax tools, aiming to limit the use of single-use nylon bags, as well as encourage the production of environmentally friendly nylon bags and other superior products as replacements. It is also necessary for the country to strengthen measures to manage, collect, transport and treat plastic waste in order to prevent and reduce plastic waste discharged into the natural environment. At the same time, strict punishment must be applied for the agencies and enterprises that violate the regulations on scrap and waste management.

Recently, the MONRE has launched the nationwide “Combating plastic waste” movement, calling on all levels, sectors, socio-political organisations and each citizen, through practical actions, to change their behaviours and habits of using nylon bags and plastic products which are difficult to decompose and only for single use. The ministry has also enhanced communication and education to raise awareness of the harmful effects of plastic waste and nylon bags on the socio-economy, the environment and human health, while building effective solutions to limit the consumption and enhance the reuse and recycling of plastic waste among the community and people.

Additionally, the MONRE has accelerated the research and application of production technology and the finalisation of mechanisms and policies to encourage the development of products that can be degraded, reused and are environmentally friendly to replace nylon bags and disposable plastic ware. Also, the body has worked closely with international partners on resolving plastic waste to gradually limit the environmental pollution caused by plastic waste and nylon bags in Vietnam at present.