HA NOI — Following a national solid waste treatment programme (2011-20), 85 per cent of urban and 40 to 50 per cent of rural solid waste is set to be processed, in accordance with environmental standards, by the end of 2015.
As much as 60 per cent of all treated waste will be recycled. The programme objective, approved by the Prime Minister last month, includes mobilising investment in order to increase the efficiency on solid waste management to result in environmental and public health improvement. Ministry of Construction statistics revealed that household waste came to around 24,000 tonnes per day on average, the figure set to rise to 36,000 tonnes per day from now until 2015. Nguyen Hong Tien, director of the Ministry of Construction’s Department of Infrastructure and Urban Technology, said that around 83 per cent of all waste is currently collected and treated daily and that recycling accounted for only 20 to 25 per cent of the total figure. “We are entering a transitional phase from relying solely on the traditional disposal method of sending collected waste to sanitary landfills, which cover too much land and cause secondary pollution, to the application of more advanced alternative treatment methods,” Tien told Viet Nam News. As an urgent next step, Tien said, local authorities had to compile waste management plans in order to have a clear map of where to put waste treatment facilities and which technologies to implement. Tien confirmed that one of the most important targets included reducing the percentage of waste disposed at landfills to below 10 per cent by 2015. Several treatment methods have already been applied on pilot basis in order to test the water for future large-scale application. He added that an increasingly common method included recycling by means of composting which involved converting organic materials into products. Nation-wide, there were 20 waste treatment facilities operating at a daily capacity of 17,000 tonnes with 15 additional facilities under construction. Nguyen Thuong Hien, from the Viet Nam Environment Administration’s Waste Management and Environment Improvement Department, said that,although composting had been hailed as a success in many countries, the great impediment to effectively implementing this method in Viet Nam involved the fact that waste had, until now, never been separated at source. Hien said that his agency planned to run a campaign in promotion of large-scale waste separation at source by 2013. He explained that the latest technology involved the mechanical biological treatment of waste, first introduced at the Song Cong Waste Treatment Facility in the northern province of Thai Nguyen, advantageous due to its capacity to automatically separate waste and convert it into raw materials to be used in industrial production. The facility, which came into operation in April, has been operating at only half of its 50 tonne per day capacity due to insufficient resources for collecting waste throughout the local area. Hien highlighted the paradox of many waste treatment facilities operating at reduced capacities while waste continued to pile up, mainly due to the fact that municipal waste has been solely collected by the Urban Environment Company (URENCO) under local People’s Committee contracts. Director of the Vietnamese Environmental Admin-istration’s Pollution Control Department Hoang Minh Dao said that increased engagement on waste collection, transportation, segregation, treatment and disposal was essential in effective, competition-based waste management, adding that the private sector should be encouraged into tasks it could do better than anyone else. As per the national programme, enterprises participating in waste management would receive preferential treatment in terms of land, taxation and bank credit policies. Tien, from the Ministry of Construction, said that in order to better link the different phases of solid waste management, a competent company should be allowed to take charge of the entire process from beginning to end. Dao agreed, saying that it was high time that waste management be radicalised and viewed as a special type of resource. — VNS