Annual Project Board Meeting highlights progress in reducing plastic pollution reduction and waste management in Viet Nam and other ASEAN countries

March 28, 2023

On 28 March 2023, at an annual project board meeting, colleagues and partners from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Norwegian Embassy in Viet Nam, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the Quy Nhon City People’s Committee, the Viet Nam Administration of Sea and Islands (VASI), the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment (ISPONRE), and UNDP country offices in the Philippines, Lao, and Cambodia gathered to discuss the progress and achievements of two significant projects to reduce plastic pollution and improve solid waste management.

The meeting focused on phase 2 of the project Scaling up Integrated and Inclusive Waste Management Models Through Empowering the Informal Sector and Fostering the Circular Economy and the Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC).

The meeting highlighted the achievements of the two projects in 2022, which have both made considerable progress toward reducing marine plastic pollution and improving solid waste management in Binh Dinh province. 
The first project, Scaling up Integrated and Inclusive Waste Management Models Through Empowering the Informal Sector and Fostering the Circular Economy, achieved a significant milestone in setting up a tripartite agreement with local authorities and the private sector to develop a material recovery facility (MRF) in Quy Nhon City. The project also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Binh Dinh People’s Committee on waste and plastic management supporting the development of the National Action Plan on Circular Economy and current regulations on solid waste and plastic management at the central and provincial levels, as well as scaling up technical and financial support for informal waste workers (IWW) in these cities.

In 2022, the project implemented interventions to support informal women waste workers (IWWWs) in Quy Nhon City as part of an initiative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. The project has already conducted assessments within 21 communes to update the list of 500 IWWs and purchased 214 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their use. It also organized two training sessions on health protection and occupational safety for 200 IWWs, which were delivered in conjunction with PPE distribution and assessed plastic waste generation at Quy Nhon’s fishing port, where an average of 4.16 tons of plastic is being discharged per month by the crews of 300 fishing boats. To combat this, the project has developed a plan to pilot plastic waste collection in the fishery sector in Quy Nhon City, including providing two net trash bags for each fishing boat  offering training on  plastic waste collection, and raising awareness on the environmental impacts of littering. The project also aims to construct a 100m2 collection center at the port for interim storage before the waste is transported  away for safe disposal.

In 2023, the project plans to continue supporting IWWs and engaging them in plastic waste collection and operating MRFs. The MRF machinery system will be procured, installed, and tested for a circular intervention on recycling plastic waste collected from domestic sources. In order to promote these outputs, the project will also be developing partnerships and linking them with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) mechanisms as part of an overall aim to develop and implement a city waste segregation plan and a set of technical guidelines to support the implementation plan and establish regulations on solid waste and plastic waste management at the national and provincial levels.

The second project, EPPIC, rolled out a plastic innovation challenge in Indonesia and the Philippines, receiving  139 submissions from seven ASEAN countries. It also launched the first EPPIC shop in Ha Long City, hosted a side event during the International Ocean Conference in Ha Noi in 2022, organized an ASEAN-wide photo contest that received over 7,500 photos, and undertook a metabolic study in Hue province to inform the development of its provincial circular economy action plan.

Both projects demonstrated the importance of effective and cross-cutting partnerships between multiple actors to advance Viet Nam's transition to a low-carbon circular economy. These partnerships were rolled out in synergy with other actors such as SINTEF/OPTOCE, WWF/plastic project, Norway/ASEANO project, EU/Rethinking plastic, WEF/NPAP, and within Phase 1, Phase 2, and EPPIC.

During the meeting, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Viet Nam Patrick Haverman, extended his gratitude to the Norwegian Embassy and Norad for their generous financial support to these projects, which are essential for protecting oceans, reducing waste, and engaging local and regional partners in sustainable, innovative solutions. UNDP also thanked the Quy Nhon City People’s Committee, the Viet Nam Administration of Sea and Islands (VASI), the Institute of Strategy, Policy on Natural Resources and Environment (ISPONRE), partner UNDP country offices, and government counterparts in the Philippines, Lao, and Cambodia for their unfailing support and excellent collaboration.

Ms. Mette Møglestue, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Norway to Viet Nam, said "We are proud to support these important projects aimed at reducing plastic pollution and improving waste management in Viet Nam. Norway is committed to working with our partners to protect the oceans and build a more sustainable future for all. We are pleased to see the progress made so far and look forward to continuing our collaboration with UNDP and other stakeholders to achieve our shared goals."

The meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on the impressive progress made towards reducing plastic pollution in Viet Nam and improving solid waste management. The achievements of these projects demonstrate the importance of cross-sectoral partnerships and the commitment of all involved to building a sustainable future for Viet Nam and the planet as a whole.