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US promises to help Vietnam clean up marine plastic pollution


The U.S. has urged Vietnam to crack down on marine waste, promising all assistance to resolve its marine debris problem. “Governments play a big role by ensuring sound waste management and recycling programs are available to all by enforcing strong environmental regulations and by providing incentives to citizens and businesses both to produce less trash and to dispose trash properly,” the U.S. Consul in HCMC, Marie C. Damour, said while participating in a panel discussion on marine plastic pollution in Hanoi on Tuesday.

The U.S. is committed to helping other nations, including Vietnam, “build [their] capacity for environmentally sound management of wastes and to counter the crisis of marine debris,” she said.

Chever X. Voltmer, director of Plastics Initiatives at Ocean Conservancy, congratulating Vietnam for drafting a national plan for the management of plastic wastes in 2019, promised to help the government implement the plan and become a regional leader in the issue.

Solid waste management was thought to be a costly and risky investment, and to change this viewpoint, a catalytic capital fund, Circulate Capital, was established to finance companies aiming to prevent marine plastic waste, she said.

It has received funding worth $100 million.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assists local inventions in Vietnam with two funds, Municipal Waste Recycling Program (2016-2021) and Clean Cities, Blue Ocean (2019 – 2024).

The former has provided $1.4 million in grants to eight inventors, benefiting 1.8 million people directly and 860,000 people indirectly with improved solid waste management, and millions others with cleaner coastal waters.

Representing the private sector, Coca Cola, promised to make packaging 100 percent recyclable globally by 2025, use 50 percent recycled material in packaging by 2030 and help recycle every bottle or can sold by 2030.

Nguyen Ngoc Ly, founder of the Center for Environment and Community Research, said in Vietnam one prominent actor in waste management is the woman scrap collector, dong nat.

Not recognized by existing laws, they are constantly in need of legal, social and financial support, and with such support, improved livelihoods and work safety they could improve municipal waste management at all stages, she said.

With 300,000-700,000 tons per year, or 6 percent of the world’s marine plastic pollution, Vietnam is the world’s fourth largest polluter after China, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the United Nations Environmental Program.

In December 2019 Vietnam announced a national action plan for the management of plastic waste, which promised to cut marine plastic waste by 75 percent and stop generating plastic waste in coastal tourist areas by 2030.


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