Last update 12/25/2011 11:42:00 AM (GMT+7)

Vietnam still doesn’t have regulations to treat electronics waste

VietNamNet Bridge – Though the hazard from electronics waste has been warned for the last many years, the management and treatment of electronics waste in Vietnam have not made any considerable progress.

Peter Hofbauer from German BiPro Munich said on the workshop discussing the management of chemicals and how to comply with international regulations on December 8, that the electronics waste in Vietnam has been increasing at an alarming level.

Electronic waste comes from three main sources, from electronics enterprises in Vietnam, the imports and from household use.

The environment pollution has become the top concern in the world, while environmentalists have called on to take actions to protect the green planet. If typing “bao ve moi truong” (protect the environment), one would find 36,700,000 results just within second.

However, the call to protect the environment seems not to bring the desired effects. While domestic waste only brings pollution and diseases, technology waste always have latent risks which can bring serious consequences.

In Vietnam, millions of tons of technology imports go through seaports and border gates every year. These include a big volume of backward and substandard products, and a half of which may be thrown into rubbish dump.

Tran Quang Hung, Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Electronics Industry Association VEIA, said that in 2011, there are 400 electronics enterprises, including 100 foreign ones, which specialize in assembling electronic products with electronics parts imported from other countries. However, Hung thinks that the electronics waste from this source is not too big, while the majority of waste from the other two sources.

Hung said that in Vietnam, most of the electronics waste, such as electrical home appliances, audio-visual products, electronic toys, telecommunications, medical electronics ..., all have the toxic chemicals which harm the nervous system, or cause lung cancer. The substances could be lead (in components, cables ...), cadmium (in batteries, capacitors, transformers ...), mercury (in TV tubes LCD, Plasma ...), and chromium 6 in coating layers, PBB and PBDE (the chemicals listed in the RoHS list issued by the EU in 2003)

However, to date, a lot of problems still exist in dealing and treating the chemicals in Vietnam, while Vietnamese have not done much to upgrade their living environment.

Despite the great efforts to settle the problems, management agencies have been still struggling in deadlock, because they still have not built up concrete regulations on electronics waste. Only in August 2011, did the Ministry of Industry and Trade issue a circular with temporary regulations on the limits of the contents for some hazardous chemicals in electrical and electronic products.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is still compiling the regulations on collecting electronics waste.

In other countries, the concept of “car cemetery” or “electronics dump” has become more popular. These are the places where refused products are gathered and wait for the day they can be recycled. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, there is no electronics waste treatment factory, even though a lot of foreign investors want to come to Vietnam to set up factories.

The problem is that the foreign investors want to import waste from other countries gather enough waste to run the factories at full capacity. Meanwhile, the proposal has not been accepted.

According to Hung, the ones who collect electronics waste are scrap iron dealers. The people consider the waste manually with no specific machines, and then classify equipments to resell to recycling workshops. This is the work that may cause the environment pollution.

Therefore, while still waiting for feasible measures to treat electronics waste to come out, and while Vietnam still is not capable enough to build electronics waste treatment factories, the State, for the immediate time, needs to set up regulations to control the scrap iron dealers, guiding them to classify equipments in a scientific way.

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