New tax aims to banish plastic bags

Published: 24/06/2011 05:00



A special environmental tax will be imposed on non biodegradable plastic bags next year in an attempt to stop them being used to carry home goods from shops and markets.

Environmental-friendly bags
are distributed for free at major supermarkets and shopping centres in the
capital city of Ha Noi.
A new tax aims to limit the use of plastic bags. (Photo: VNS)

The 150 to 200 per cent tax, approved last November, is intended to force out the use of the environmentally unfriendly bags, one of the many waste plastic products clogging up cities, towns, roadsides and, occasionally, good farm land.

In their place, the Government hopes to promote the use of biodegradable bags made of plastic, paper or cotton.

The common, non-biodegradable plastic bags are expected to be forced out of use by the stiff new tax.

However, while this approach has worked overseas, in Viet Nam many “biodegradable products” are of questionable quality. In other words, they are not truly biodegradable and will still not break down for hundreds of years.

Director of the Institute for Material Science, Professor Nguyen Hong Quyen, said that true biodegradability was based on micro-organisms turning the bags or other plastic waste into soil in a short period of time.

But he warned that some products on the market would not dissolve into harmless waste, but just fragment.

And he said that these fragments could permeate the air or remain in the soil, continuing to be threat to the environment and human health.

Professor Nguyen Duc Kham, director of the Centre for Studying and Producing Bio Products, said that existing plastic-bag producers usually claimed their products had a life of one to two years. After this, they said the bags would automatically disintegrate.

Professor Ho Lam, head of the Institute for Applied Material Science, said that normal plastic bags needed about 400 years to break down while biodegradable ones should need only a few months to a few years.

The problem in Viet Nam is that most of the so-called biodegradable plastic now being produced use a polymer that eventually breaks down but refuses to dissolve.

Lam said that this partial disintegration curdled the soil, turning it sterile and eventually created lifeless areas.

Professor Pham The Trinh from the Viet Nam Institute of Industrial Chemistry, said that a possible solution would be to mix bacteria in the plastic that would eventually break it down.

Trinh said that genuine biodegradable plastic products were more expensive than other plastic products, but added that large-scale production would probably reduce the cost.

Not all the news on bags is negative. Last April, HCM City-based Phuc Le Gia Ltd Company introduced degradable plastic bags at a local market where most vendors were eager to use green products.

The product met Swiss standards for biodegradable products and the company was later awarded a quality certificate from the Directorate for Standards.

However, company director Le Loc said that the company was able to produce only 20 to 30 tonnes a month, just a fraction of that needed to satisfy the future Vietnamese market.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

New tax aims to banish plastic bags - Community - News |  vietnam travel company

You can see more

enews & updates

Sign up to receive breaking news as well as receive other site updates!

Ads by Adonline