Less Marine Litter in Vietnam

Quick facts

  • Project: Mitigating Marine Plastic Debris in Vietnam
  • Grant recipient: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Germany
  • Location: Vietnam, Phú Quốc and Tân An City (capital of Long An province)
  • Duration: 1 Oct 2019 to 31 Dec 2023
  • Measures: Development and implementation of an improved waste management system; awareness-raising measures in order to draw attention to the problem of waste and its solutions in society at large; support for the establishment and implementation of legal and institutional frameworks
  • Funding volume: €10,995,128.00

Reducing marine litter: what are the specific challenges in Vietnam?

Worldwide, Vietnam is one of the five biggest polluters of plastic marine litter. This is mainly due to lacking capacities for waste separation, collection and processing, and in consumption and production patterns. Another important factor is a lack of awareness in society about recycling and the effects of waste pollution on the environment.

In Vietnam, almost two-thirds of goods are packed in plastic – a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Only 14 percent of plastic waste is collected, separated and recycled by small-scale operators. As a result, 86 percent – around 15 tonnes a day – ends up in landfill or is directly  discarded in the environment without any processing.  Furthermore, the landfills in Vietnam are often unsafe and poorly managed. As a result, they are liable to flooding, which can result in waste being swept away and entering the oceans via waterways. Estimates suggest around 80 percent of marine litter originates from land sources.

The ecological consequences of plastic waste have been primarily discussed by Vietnam’s scientific community. Changes in the way plastic is treated by society at large are thus not sufficiently triggered. Nor is the problem being addressed sufficiently by national policy, for example through improved waste management legislation or educational programmes. 

How is the project helping to reduce marine litter?

The ‘Mitigating Marine Plastic Debris in Vietnam’ project from WWF Germany aims to achieve long-term reductions to marine litter input in Vietnam. A campaign to reduce plastic waste at national and provincial level will raise awareness of the problem and encourage changes in behaviour. The project is providing support to towns and cities for the design and implementation of waste management concepts, and is using several pilot projects in protected marine areas to demonstrate the development and operation of an improved waste management system.

Waste management is also being improved through the projects by adapting the current legislation on waste disposal and extended producer responsibility for plastic packaging in Vietnam. This will be achieved though providing support for the implementation of a new government regulation aimed at strengthening the management and handling of plastic waste, as well as promoting its reuse, recycling and reduction. The project is cooperating with national bodies to create appropriate regulatory frameworks in order to build capacities and strengthen institutions in Vietnam, thereby ensuring the long-term success of the project.

Community-based waste management in Da Chong

On the island of Phú Quốc, the rural coastal town of Da Chong has introduced a community-based waste management system and run a beach cleaning campaign to raise awareness about the problem of marine litter.

Until 2019, there was no regular collection of waste as a public service. As a result, waste from these coastal households was simply incinerated or thrown into the sea. The project aims to introduce a waste separation system at household level, which will separate valuable, recyclable materials from general waste. Organic waste will be composted and used for cultivating vegetables, while inorganic waste will be collected and taken to waste management depots. The project is supporting the community with the necessary materials and training for waste separation and providing technical support for the rollout and operation by the community itself.

Around 30 households in Da Chong are participating in the project – and have made a real difference: in just nine months, some 10.6 tonnes of waste, including 3.1 tonnes of plastic, have already been handled by waste management. These activities have prevented the input of this waste into the environment – and especially into the sea.

Improved waste management system in Tân An City

Tân An City is the capital of Long An province. Although located in Vietnam’s interior, the city is nonetheless connected directly to the sea by the rivers Vàm Cỏ Tây and Vàm Cỏ Dong. The project aims to improve the city’s waste management system and has been commissioned to produce a conceptual design for its implementation.

For the pilot project, suitable locations for collecting and separating waste have been chosen, and the equipment needed – such as waste containers and collection vehicles – has been acquired. A pilot scheme involving around 4,800 households in the Binh Dong district is being used to trial the most promising measures in terms of acceptance and financing. The necessary personnel, participating residents, public institutions and affected businesses have received appropriate instruction and training. A flyer campaign has provided information about the pilot scheme and relevant rules and regulations. The scheme was launched on 1 August 2020 with an initial selection of 425 homes. From October 2020, the scheme is now being rolled out to all 4,800 households.

In the long term, the system should be financially self-sustaining. To achieve this, WWF Germany is advising the national government on improvements to legislation in relation to waste processing and extended producer responsibility to ensure that manufacturers of plastics are also involved in financing waste recycling.