HOW EPR MECHANISM AFFECT BUSINESSES IN VIETNAM
ERP mechanism, the foundation for building a modern and integrated-recycling industry that focuses on arranging waste sources into environmentally friendly recycling facilities, has been a great supporter to waste treatment and contributes to the circular economy. The mechanism is expected to have a more comprehensive roadmap for implementation in the future with the aim of raising a “greener” recycling industry.
WHAT IS EPR MECHANISM?
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy by which producers are held accountable for the damage to the environment that their manufacturing operations will cause throughout the supply chain, following the strategy known as the “polluter pays” principle. Through this regulation, producers are responsible for managing products during the waste management process, including garbage collection; classification, dismantling, decontamination, reuse, recycling or disposal, etc.
The EPR policy greatly contributes to:
- The local authorities and taxpayers could share the financial burden and part of the responsibility for waste management to producers.
- Motivation for producers to improve production processes in the direction of material saving, actively reducing the use of hazardous and hard-to-recycle materials, and planning to improve the design of the production process to facilitate garbage collection and disposal.
- Generate new economic opportunities across different product lifecycle stages, particularly with industry and environmental services in waste management and treatment.
- Promoting circular economy – sustainable development direction for businesses
IMPACT ON INDUSTRIES
Six commodity groups are expected to be targeted by the EPR mechanism, including batteries and accumulators, electricity and electronics, tires and tube, lubricants, cars, and motorcycles & packaging. And with packaging under the spotlight of the newly enforced law, three big industries in Vietnam, namely Import-Export, Chemical & Construction, will inevitably be heavily affected by this new development.
Despite the environmental risks associated with plastic, the construction industry is greatly dependent on plastic in its working practices. This is quite understandable as plastic is cheap, lightweight, water-resistant, and chemically inert, making it an ideal resource for the industry to use. Furthermore, a large amount of solid waste is found after a finished construction project. People can easily recognize piles of bricks or garbage scattered all around the street. Conventional solid waste transfer points are always overcrowded and do not have basic treatment measures, leading people to sneakily dump the waste into the environment. This can potentially become a big problem for construction businesses when the EPR mechanism is eventually extended to other industries in the future.
The chemical industry is also reported to bear the same problems as the construction industry. Bottles and packages of pesticides during agriculture production arise more and more in different types which can cause immense harm to the environment if it’s not properly handled. In addition, the remaining chemical on the bottles or packaging can be persistent in the environment and very difficult to decompose. Although every province and its people also join hands to collect and process the waste, the unbelievably large amount of waste has proven to be a heavy burden on them. However, with the newly implemented EPR, the chemical businesses will have to step in to share this burden with the people to avoid harming the environment any further.
Regarding the Import-Export Industry, there exist many manufacturers/individuals that produce, import, export or re-export products and packaging materials that are noxious, non-recyclable and could gradually contaminate the environment. Apparently, those organizations/individuals have to pay the Vietnam Environmental Protection Fund for the recycling process, or submit detailed recycling plans to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and regularly report the results of recycling activities.
The producers who import recyclable products and packaging to sell in other countries are responsible for recycling certain products and packaging materials depending on those countries’ laws and policies. Some products and packaging materials exported into Vietnam under the recycling policies could be electrical or electronic products, batteries, machine oil, tubes and tires, vehicles and construction machines, and packages, etc. However, it’s essential for those producers to re-construction and take material savings and environmental-friendly into consideration in production’s design, waste treatment and disposal.
However, at the current time, EPR has not been effectively implemented in Vietnam. Businesses implement this regulation in a rigid, counter-productive manner without any form of incentive. The laws, although did execute certain results like raising people’s awareness about environmental protection, the effect is not long-lasting. The main reason for this situation is unclear regulations on the mandatory responsibility of businesses in contributing funds to recover and handle used products and there is no clear effective mechanism to perform. The Vietnamese government needs to come up with a synchronized policy; develop methods of segregation of domestic solid waste at source and promote the construction, investment, and development of collection and recycling infrastructure to optimize EPR legislation in Vietnam.
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