Every day, Ho Chi Minh City discharges more than 7,000 tonnes of waste into the environment which costs the city VND235 billion in treatment. However, 98 percent of waste is deposited in dumping grounds with simple treatment technology resulting in problems such as water leak from dumping grounds. Meanwhile, waste volume in Hanoi increases 15 percent per annum, with total solid waste volume estimated to reach 5,000 tonnes per day. If this trend continues, by 2012, Hanoi will run out of waste storage space and dumping grounds will be full to capacity. Finding a way to treat waste to reduce environmental pollution and recycle partially natural resources is an issue drawing special attention of scientists and managers.
The use of waste-to-energy technology (WtE) globally is quite popular and is on the rise, while the percentage of dumping grounds is declining. The United States has more than 100 WtE while the United Kingdom, Germany and France have
more than 60 plants in each country. In ASEAN, each country has about three WtE plants. In Vietnam, the progress of its biggest waste treatment plant has been delayed. The new waste incineration technology has been only used in small enterprises such as the application of cement incinerator at the Holcim Vietnam Company or the Cau Dien Waste Treatment Plant of the Hanoi Urban Environmental Company (URENCO) with daily organic waste volume collected amounting to 60-70 tonnes. Yoshio Yanagisawa, the senior technical director of Misubishi, Japan said that WtE technology is highly regarded by many countries because it can reduce micro pollution and 90 percent of waste volume, treat organic compounds and chemical substances, recycle heat, electricity and materials such as glass, bricks; reduce water, soil and ground pollution. Most
notably, WtE contributes to reducing green house gases. It doesn’t need land, and is flexible for planning. It also doesn’t require waste classification which requires people to change their behavior. In addition, it has other socio-economic benefits”. Ekkehart Gartner, the senior vice president of the Martin GmbH (Germany) said that “WtE technology has helped treat 100 percent of waste. In addition, 100 percent of exhaust fumes will be controlled and cleaned before fumes are emitted into the environment. The energy generated during the incineration process will be used to produce electricity and steam which are considered valuable resources during winter. Some 6.9 tonnes of burning gas and 7.7 tonnes of clean gas will be produced from one tonne of waste. If the waste contains iron or glass, some 220 kg of ashes will be produced and can be recycled as input materials for other industries. This technology is totally suitable for
Addressing the issue
Currently, the investment costs for waste incineration technology are expensive, with prices at US$30 to treat one tonne of waste (excluding electricity costs), while waste dumped conventionally only costs about US$17.92. Nguyen Trung Viet, the head of the Solid Waste Management Office of the Ho Chi Minh Natural Resources and Environment Department said that “the investment cost for this technology is expensive while the control of exhaust fumes and organic waste that is difficult to disintegrate such as furan and dioxin have not been calculated
yet. Moreover, the Environment Law 2005 regulates that waste owners have to classify waste from the beginning but this technology doesn’t require waste classification; hence, the law should be addressed again”. Associate Professor. Dr. Nguyen Huy Nga from the Health Environment Management Department under the Ministry of Health (MOH) said “about 85-90 percent of health waste is hazardous waste. MOH regulates that it is prohibited to burn health waste. Non governmental organizations only offer loans for health waste treatment projects which use environmentally friendly microwave technology”. According to Associate Professor. Dr. Dang Kim Chi, the president of the Scientific and Technological Council of the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment (VACNE) said, “WtE technology is future technology bringing many socio-economic benefits and contributing to improving the environment
towards a clean, green, and beautiful environment. Waste incineration is considered the most modern technology and has been applied in many countries. However, the investment, operation costs are expensive and technical requirements are high. Electricity prices produced from this technology is higher than electricity prices produced from other methods; hence, it is necessary to adopt favorable policies in terms of investment assistance, loans, taxation and electricity prices from the state to encourage the development of this technology in Vietnam. In the short term, Vietnam should only focus on applying WtE in developed economic zones. To solve the problem of urban waste, it is necessary to have specific strategies. Most importantly, t
he state should develop policies and adopt support mechanisms to encourage WtE development in the future so that a strong, professional environmental protection industry develops./.
By Thu Huong