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13 february 2020

Changing waste’s status at source to improve its treatment: Ho Chi Minh City’s solution in Vietnam

The city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment wants to change the categorization of solid waste to adapt to technological advances in recycling and incineration. And thus significantly reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill, which poses a real environmental and health threat.

Solid waste management has become a real environmental and health issue in Vietnam. The country’s rapid development over the past fifteen years has led to a constant rise in solid waste production*. Most of it ends up in landfill sites and open dumps, which are reaching capacity**. 


Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s economic capital, is no exception to this trend: in 2019, it generated 9,500 metric tons of waste per day and treated some 2.88 million metric tons of solid waste.  


The city authorities have decided to drastically reduce the volume of solid waste buried***. “Instead of the three categories of waste that currently apply — organic, recyclable, and other waste — we now want to simplify waste’s status at source by classifying it into just two categories: recyclable and other. We will thus be able to better adapt to technological advances in sorting, recycling and energy recovery,” explained the Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr. Nguyên Toàn Thang. 


The department’s proposal will be submitted to the municipal People’s Committee for approval during the first quarter of 2020.


The municipal department is already organizing public awareness-raising campaigns to encourage people to dispose of their waste responsibly. 33,600 trash cans were installed in public places across the city in 2019 to this end.


*The figure rose from 15.6 megatons in Vietnam in 2004 to 31.6 in 2017, i.e. a 5.2% average increase per year. Source: Iponre, February 2018

**The waste collected is mainly sent to landfill, at an estimated rate of 76 - 82%. There are 660 landfill sites covering 4,900 ha, only 31% of which are sanitary (the rest are open dumps). Source: “La gestion des déchets solides au Vietnam,” French Ministry of the Economy, February 2018

***The city recently closed five landfill sites. It is preparing to close two others in Da Phuoc and Binh Chanh by 2024. These two sites currently receive over 5,000 metric tons of waste per day and will be saturated by this date.