Viet Nam enterprises to say no to plastic straws

Wednesday, Aug 18, 2021 10:00

More than 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste is discharged into the sea and ocean in Viet Nam every day. — Photo

Modern lifestyles and COVID-19 are creating more plastic waste through an increase in plastic packing from delivery services including plastic straws for take-away cups, however, enterprises in Viet Nam, working with the Government aim to curb this development.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), everyday more than 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste is discharged into the ocean in Viet Nam.

Though there are no specific statistics on the types of garbage, the amount of plastic straws is believed to be huge due to their popularity they come with most Vietnamese drinks like milk, tea, and coffee.

Plastic straws take 200 to 500 years to decompose and are a huge contributor to plastic pollution, says MoNRE. It goes on to say that they become more dangerous, when the plastic pieces fall into the water and break apart and enter the food chain, which can have damaging effects on human health.

Over the years, there have been a number of efforts made to reduce the number of plastic straws being consumed. These include using more environmentally friendly straws made of materials like stainless steel, bamboo and glass. However, for businesses, especially the fast-moving consumer goods industry, there are still not many alternatives to plastic straws but MoNRE believes that it’s time to change.

On July 16, the ministry worked with one of the biggest food producers in Viet Nam, Nestle Vietnam to launch the campaign “Say no to plastic straws.”

According to Vu Minh Ly, deputy director of the Communication Centre for Natural Resources and Environment, MoNRE, its campaign targets the removal of single-use plastics from urban markets, convenience stores, and supermarkets by the end of 2021 and ridding the entire nation of single-use plastics by 2025 to promote sustainability through tangible action.

CEO of Nestle Vietnam, Binu Jacob said: “Our vision is to ensure that no packaging produced by the Nestle Group that includes plastic ends up in landfill or becomes waste.”

After switching to glass and recycled plastic bottles for La Vie and becoming a founding member of the Packaging Recycling Organisation Vietnam, the company switched from plastic to paper straws to go with its MILO products back in March.

The CEO told participants at the launch: “Being a pioneer, we acknowledge the initial challenges in encouraging people, especially the younger generation, to create new consumption habits and to inspire them to be more mindful of the environment. Nevertheless, we believe that these steps are crucial to help tackle the serious environmental issues in Viet Nam.”

At the online event, Ali Abbas, director of MILO and Dairy Products under Nestle Vietnam, emphasised MILO’s vision to help build a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly Viet Nam for future generations, with plastic reduction playing a key role.

He added joining the campaign will be another milestone for MILO since it redoubled sustainability efforts in 2019: “The initiative will result in a reduction of 700 tonnes of plastic waste per year. If all these plastic straws were lined up in a straight line, it would be nearly 179,000km long, more than 54 times the length of Viet Nam’s coastline,” he said.

As flavour is key to gain customers' hearts, Nestle and MILO worked to ensure the switch from plastic to paper straws will not affect product experience or quality as the paper straws are manufactured to the most exacting European standards to ensure safety while preserving the flavour and aroma of the drink.

Vo Tuan Nhan, deputy minister of MoNRE said he appreciated what Nestle and MILO have done, highlighting the efforts of organisations and individuals that have rolled out practical initiatives, contributing to changing people’s awareness and habits regarding plastic waste.

He also encouraged organisations and businesses to apply new and green technologies to create more environmentally-friendly products, nourishing the formation of green shopping and consumption behaviours in Vietnamese society.

With the goal of making 100 per cent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 as well as to support the campaign, Nestle will launch a campaign to back up its education programme. It will run on digital channels and television to encourage social progress on plastics and littering.

MoNRE representative said its campaign would help raise public awareness about the harmful effects of plastic waste, adding the campaign is divided into three parts, going from raising public awareness of the plastic problem to encouraging community action and then garnering more wide-based social change towards sustainability. — VNS

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