Circular Economy: Role of Chemistry and Chemical Industry

Welcome Remarks by Mr. Patrick Haverman, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Viet Nam

December 16, 2021

Mr. Nguyen Van Thanh, Director General, Vietnam Chemicals Agency
Mr. Le Quoc Khanh, Chairman of Chemical Society of Vietnam
Representatives from International Council of Chemical Association, Vietnam Responsible Care Council, businesses in chemical sector
Partners of the Vietnam Circular Economy Hub
Colleagues joining us in-person and online
Ladies and gentlemen,
A very good afternoon and xin chào

Circular Economy is a key to sustainable development. The adoption of the definition of CE in the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 marked a big milestone in including CE principles in policy frameworks. We are seeing more policy laying the groundwork for circular economy implementation, such as the Decree on Implementation of the Law on Environmental Protection 2020, the National Action Plan for Circular Economy prepared by MONRE and the Master Plan for Development of Circular Economy prepared by MPI. It was our pleasure to support MONRE, MOIT and stakeholders in Vietnam to develop and operate the Vietnam Circular Economy Hub, which is expected to enhance dialogue, generate know-how, and mobilize collective action towards the CE transition.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Chemicals are present in 95 percent of manufactured goods, from simple everyday items to hi-tech applications. Chemical Industries are the prime factors to convert the raw materials into desired products that we use in our day-to-day life. Chemicals play a major role in our food. The preservatives, taste enhancers and flavors help the food to be palatable and increase the shelf life. More than 80% of the chemical industry concentrates on producing polymers, and plastics. According to a report, the chemical industry touches nearly every good-producing sector, making an estimated $5.7 trillion contribution to world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through direct, indirect and induced impacts, equivalent to seven percent of the world’s GDP, and supporting 120 million jobs worldwide. For every $1 USD generated by the chemical industry, a further $4.20 USD is generated elsewhere in the global economy.

In Vietnam, the chemical sector has developed rapidly and plays an important role in the socio-economic development of the country. The chemical industry and its related supply chains contribute about 11.2% of the national industrial production value and create jobs for about 10% of the entire industry's workforce, with estimation of 2.7 million labor with 725,000 direct employees in chemical production.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is very interesting to see that chemistry and chemical industry as one of important sectors to be at the center of the transition to circular economy. The sector offers solutions to keep materials in the loop as long as technically and economically possible through reuse of materials, extension of lifetime using more durable materials, resource recovery and different types of waste recycling technologies.

One good example from the UNDP/GEF Green Chemistry Project implemented by Vietnam Chemicals Agency is that: An Electroplating Company called Plato in Thai Nguyen province has actively upgraded its production by no longer using PFOS (a persistent organic substance), so that their product is more environmental-friendly while minimizing a lot of environmental costs, enable companies to deliver value to customers.

Taking this opportunity, I would lik to share our several observations for consideration of accelerating circular economy in chemistry and chemical industry as follow:

-      Firstly, the Law on Chemicals 2007 is about to be revised in 2022-2023. This would be a great opportunity for the Government and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to complete policy and legal framework, especially on incentivization for encouraging private sector to apply circular economy models;

-      Secondly, among 10 sub-sectors under chemical industry (MOIT classification), it would be necessary to conduct detailed sector review and develop a plan for CE adoption. Our suggestion would be: start with the most suitable points for the transition, which can be achieved in a short time, tangible result, easy implementation;

-      Thirdly, chemical recycling technologies are key to allow plastic waste as feedstock to produce new chemicals and plastics. Also, chemicals can help extend the lifecycle of end-consumer products, and the chemicals themselves can also be made more long-lasting. (Examples: the use of bio-based raw materials in its rubber compounds to improve the safety and durability of tyres).

-      Fourthly, chemical companies can act as enablers of circularity for downstream businesses besides reaching circularity. By adopting sustainable and circular business models, companies can create value in four key dimensions: revenue generation, brand enhancement, cost saving, risk reduction. (The example of Nishu Paint Company and Plato Electroplating Company under Green Chemistry project are true examples).

By having more companies presenting today, I do hope that this could be a good opportunity to kick off and accelerate the CE transition, not only in chemical sectors but also other sectors and the Vietnam’s economy.

I would like to express my great appreciation for efforts of Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Chemical Society of Vietnam and to all the other partners who are committed to accelerating Circular Economy in Viet Nam.

We believe that only by joining hands in partnership, fostering communication, and facilitating knowledge sharing, will we be able to frame and adopt a narrative around a Circular Economy that is tailored to the needs, the history, and the ambitions of the people of Viet Nam.

I wish you all good health, happiness, and success.

Thank you! Xin cảm ơn!