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"No Plastic Bag Day" in Vietnam

On 3th July 2023, the Institute of Strategy, Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade organised the "No Plastic bag day" at the facilities of members of the Union of International Retailers that reduce disposable plastic bags, including TH True Mart, Central Retail, MM Mega Market Vietnam, AEON Vietnam, LOTTE Mart Vietnam.

A number of promising changes

For the last few years, major producers and retailers have introduced a number of changes to lead the market for a more positive future in terms of plastic use.

TH True Milk has implemented a series of solutions such as replacing plastic bags, plastic spoons, and straws from single-use plastic with eco-friendly bioplastics, and has cut down on plastic use by reducing the weight of plastic per product. Specifically, TH has cut back ½ teaspoon of yogurt and set a goal to reduce it by 100%. Along with that, TH has removed the bottle cap shrink film on all True WATER products. The total amount of plastic that TH has reduced from this effort amounts to about 40 tons/year. TH also always determines the responsibility of the manufacturer with its own products, such as milk cartons. With the participation and co-founder of alliances such as the Vietnam Business Alliance for the Environment, the Vietnam Packaging Recycling Alliance and the Retailers' Alliance to Reduce Plastic Bag Consumption, TH proudly has the opportunity to join hands with other businesses to build a sustainable environment and protect resources for future generations.

The change to a greener option for single use spoon (Photo: TH True Milk)a
The change to a greener option for single use spoon (Photo: TH True Milk)a

AEON Vietnam is maintaining and operating other "green" initiatives such as Greenline - a priority cashier for customers who refuse to use plastic bags, using products from environmentally friendly materials such as plastic cups, trays and bowls with bagasse at the buffet area. At the supermarket area of all General Department Stores and AEON Supermarkets nationwide, 100% of shopping bags for customers are biodegradable plastic bags. AEON Vietnam is also the first retailer in Vietnam to implement the “Rent a bag” initiative, customers can borrow environmental bags directly at cashiers from June 2022, at a cost of 5,000 VND/bag, and receive a full rental fee when returning the bag at the service counter.

Central Retail has been successfully piloting the program "No Plastic bag day" and "Bring your own bag to the market" at Tops Market supermarkets across the country - gradually ending the supply of plastic bags in stores. In addition, Central Retail in Vietnam has continuously strived to fulfil its role in encouraging consumers to reduce the use of plastic bags, improve consumer behaviour in a positive way, and promote solutions with system-wide eco-friendly methods. For example, the group has installed models of "Whale eats plastic waste" all over Vietnam's beaches, or the entire system of GO!, Big C, Tops Market supermarkets have used eco-friendly plastic bags, at the same time, encouraged customers to use Lohas bags (reusable bags) at a non-profit price. In addition, consumers bringing personal bags with a bill of 500,000 VND, will be given a voucher worth 20,000 VND. In particular, customers shopping with an invoice from VND 350,000 with any P&G product will be given a reusable bag many times. On this day, customers can also buy reusable bags at a discount of up to 40%. Many fresh products at supermarkets are wrapped with banana leaves, kraft paper, etc., replacing plastic bags and food wrap. Through this program, Central Retail is estimated to reduce 32,000 plastic bags consumed in a day at the Tops Market system.

A positive start for a bigger movement

The Vietnamese government has approved many policies to limit plastic bags and single-use plastic products. The Law on Environmental Protection 2020 clearly stipulates the recycling responsibilities and waste treatment responsibilities of manufacturers and regulations on the reduction, reuse, recycling and treatment of plastic waste, pollution prevention and control ocean plastic waste.

Although there have been many positive signs in limiting the use of plastic bags, based on a research, there are still a number of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets, averaging up to 104,000 bags/day, equivalent to 38 million plastic bags/year. Vietnam is setting a goal to strive by 2025, using 100% environmentally friendly packaging in commercial centres, supermarkets for living purposes to replace plastic bags, and gradually reducing the production and use of non-degradable plastic bags and disposable plastic products in daily life. After 2030, Vietnam will ban all, including the residential market, from consuming plastic bags. Currently, manufacturers are also gradually calculating to change technology to meet the market and comply with State regulations.

In order to achieve the set goals, many legal documents have been issued, including the National Strategy on Integrated Solid Waste Management to 2025, vision to 2050, the Directive No. 33/CT-TTg of the Prime Minister on strengthening the management, reuse, recycling, treatment and reduction of plastic waste, the National action plan on sustainable production and consumption for the period of 2021-2030, the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 and Decree No. 08/2022/ND-CP detailing a number of articles of the Law on Environmental Protection, and the Decision No. 1316/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister approving the Scheme to strengthen the management of plastic waste in Vietnam.

Source: the Internet



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