Environmentally friendly plastic bags still not popular in Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge - Advertising campaigns and big money spent on activities still cannot familiarize Vietnamese with the habit of using environmentally friendly bags to ease the burden on the environment.


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Vietnamese are accustomed to using plastic bags


Ma Hoang Hai, a university student, when asked if he knows the damaging effects of plastics bags on the environment, said that plastic bags will only decompose after 200-500 years, saying that plastic waste is a burning issue in modern times. Despite the knowledge, he still uses plastic bags every day. 

Millions of plastic bags are discharged into the environment every day. Vietnamese people are accustomed to using new single-use bags each time they shop.

In Hanoi and HCMC alone, about 80 tons of plastics and plastic bags are thrown into the environment each day. 

If 10 percent of plastic waste is not recycled, the amount of plastic discharged will reach 2.5 million tons per year, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

The number of plastic bags has been increasing year after year, despite the Law on Environmental Protection which took effect in 2012.

Under the law, one kilogram of plastic bags bears VND40,000 in tax. In general, the production cost of this kind of plastic bag is VND30,000 per kilogram. This means that the products need to be sold at VND70,000 per kilogram to cover the tax.

Under the law, one kilogram of plastic bags bears VND40,000 in tax. In general, the production cost of this kind of plastic bag is VND30,000 per kilogram. This means that the products need to be sold at VND70,000 per kilogram to cover the tax.

However, in the market, plastic bags are still selling at VND30,000 per kilogram only because plastic bag producers are not paying the environmental protection tax. 

As plastic bags are cheap, petty merchants at traditional markets continue using the polluting plastic bags.

In recent years, central and local agencies organized campaigns, including the ‘say no to plastic bag’ days, to persuade people to shift to environmentally friendly bags. 

At some large supermarkets, biodegradable bags have replaced normal plastic bags. However, they are not welcomed because the bags are expensive, and people don’t want to bring the bags when they go shopping.

As the habit of using plastic bags cannot be changed, the burden is placed on waste collectors and waste treatment plants.

In Hanoi, 4,000-5,000 tons of waste is discharged every day, 7-8 percent of which are plastic bags. The figures are 7,000 tons and 10 percent in HCMC. 

This makes it more difficult to treat waste by burying because of the long time needed to decompose and the high treatment costs. The cities are seriously lacking land for landfills.

Treating plastic bags by burning is inadvisable because the products contain PE and PP which will produce toxic carbon dioxide, methane and dioxin during incineration.


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Mai Chi

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