Takeaway food packaging makes up most plastic waste in Vietnam: survey

Plastic litter at river and coastal sites surveyed across Vietnam came primarily from takeout-related sources.

Take-out waste accounted for 43.6% by number and 35.1% by weight of total plastic waste, followed by fishing-related waste (32.6% by number and 30.6% by weight) and household waste (21.6% by number). and 22.8% by weight), according to a World Bank report released this week.

Plastics related to agriculture and medicine accounted for only about 1% by number and 3-8% by weight, according to the report, carried out from July 2020 to April 2021 in response to a request from the Vietnamese government to deepen knowledge about the different types of plastic waste. leaks into the country’s rivers and ocean, and identify their market alternatives for potential substitution.

The amount of waste was studied in 24 river sites and 14 coastal sites, in 10 different cities and provinces: Lao Cai and Hai Phong in the north, Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Khanh Hoa in the central region and Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Kien Giang and Soc Trang in the south.

In each location, three to four survey sites were selected, comprising both coastal and riverine areas, with each site extending at least 100 meters in length parallel to the water. For each site, at least two team members, along with six to ten local volunteers, carried out the surveys.

Single-use plastic items were found to account for 72% (by number) of total plastic litter identified at shorelines and 52% (by number) of total plastic litter identified at coastal sites during surveys of the ground. Of these items, plastic bags and their fragments were the most common single-use items in survey locations. Styrofoam food containers were among the top five items in river and coastal areas.

The report suggests that tackling plastic pollution caused by single-use items should not be based on replacing these items with non-plastic single-use items or plastic multi-use items, as “both can have negative impacts and not align with Vietnam’s goal of a more circular economy.”

Thus, in promoting alternative products, the focus should be on promoting reusable, non-plastic items that support the overall reduction of plastic waste generation.

“Much greater efforts are needed to educate the Vietnamese population on waste reduction, reuse and waste disposal, to reduce demand for low-utility plastic, support more cost-effective waste management infrastructure and to reduce the waste that ends up in the rivers and the ocean,” he says.

According to data released last year by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, plastic waste accounts for 7% of solid waste discharged daily in Vietnam, or nearly 2,500 tons.

Some 0.28 to 0.73 million tons of plastic waste enters the country’s seas every year.

Bryce K. Locke