Ho Chi Minh City authorities are continuing in their push to limit the amount of single-use plastic and want all bookstores, convenience stores, shopping malls and supermarkets to replace plastic bags with environmentally friendly options by 2020.
Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Vietnam’s Prime Minister called for all levels of government to take action to achieve the goal of zero disposable plastic use June and said that he wants to see urban shops, markets and supermarkets stop using single use plastic by the end of 2021.
HCMC authorities have said they support the Prime Ministers goals and the push to have bookstores, convenience stores and supermarkets stop using plastic bags is a step towards achieving this goal.
Supermarket chain Saigon Co.op stopped selling plastic straws at all of its stores in June and replaced them with straws that are made with paper, rice, stainless steel, glass and other environment-friendly materials. Other supermarkets in the city are also becoming more environmentally friendly by wrapping produce and other products in banana leaves.
The HCMC government has taken other steps to be environmentally conscious and has asked government employees to limit the use of bottled water, plastic bags and straws in the workplace. It also directed government offices and agencies in the city, not to use bottled water starting August 1, including bottled water for conferences, and asked all agencies to switch to bottles of more than 20 liters that are easier to reuse.
The city has also announced that beginning in 2020, the city’s Department of Finance will not allocate funds to any government agency to buy disposable plastic products.
Other signs of environmental action taking place across the city include schools announcing their plans to stop using single-use water bottles and plastic straws at meetings, conferences and other events; and some public hospitals using recycled paper bags to pack medicines for their patients.
Bui Trong Hieu, Chairman of the HCMC Urban Environment Company Limited, said earlier this year that of the 8,700 tons of trash discarded in the city daily, plastic accounts for 1,800 tons but only 11% of plastic items are collected for recycling.
The U.S. based non-profit environmental organization Ocean Conservancy has called on Vietnam to reduce the amount of plastic waste that it produces, by all means, and as quickly as possible. According to OC, Vietnam produces 2,500 tons of plastic trash each day and the country is the fourth biggest polluter of the world’s oceans.
As well as actions by the city government, there are also growing cries for major fast food companies such as KFC, Lotteria, Highlands Coffee and McDonalds to be environmentally conscious by switching from single use plastic items to items made of paper and cardboard or other environmentally friendly materials.