HA NOI, Oct. 21 — Viet Nam's growing industries produce increasing amounts of waste while only around 5 per cent of waste water is treated, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
It also reports that barely 14 per cent of hazardous waste and 15 per cent of solid waste were disposed of properly, and that only 105 of the country's 283 industrial zones have centralized waste water treatment systems.
Duong Dinh Giam, president of the ministry's Industrial Policy and Strategy Institute, said that even those frequently operate ineffectively, producing substandard "treated" waste water.
At a workshop last Friday in Ha Noi, Giam conveyed the stark message that the environmental industry had not kept pace with the country's rapid economic growth.
"Waste is the biggest environmental problem but it is also valuable resources for developing countries," he said.
Giam said that Viet Nam badly needed to develop an industry to treat and recycle waste water and solid waste as well as electronic waste, which the nation has never recycled.
However, he warned that this would be a challenge for the "scattered" national environmental industry.
Duong Thi Thanh Xuyen from the Viet Nam Environment Administration said the quality of environmental services was "poor" because companies providing environmental services were licenced without careful verification of their workforce, equipment, technology or capital.
Additionally, there were no State-owned enterprises big enough to address major environmental problems, such as oil slicks or treating hazardous waste on a regional level.
Nguyen Van Thanh, deputy head of the trade ministry's Industrial Safety Techniques and Environment Agency, said that there were not enough skilled workers to develop the environmental industry.
The environment ministry's Viet Nam Environment Administration reported that not a single household solid waste treatment plant met standards of technology, socio-economic and environment.
Giam blamed the situation on budget shortages. State budget spending for environmental protection is limited; environmental services are considered public services, he said, so the Government has to subsidise most fees for treating industrial and household waste.vThe lack of encouraging policies and advanced technologies compounded the problem, he added.vHe recommended changing regulations on importing iron, steel and electronic products to help develop the electronic waste recycling sector.
Policy changes are also afoot. By 2020, residents will pay about 20 per cent of fees for treating household waste, Giam said. Today they pay nothing.
"The new rule aims to involve communities in paying to treat waste," he said.
Thanh from the Industrial Safety Techniques and Environment Agency said the ministry of industry and trade had recently proposed a decree to develop the national environmental industry to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.vThe ministry planned to create policies to tighten State management of the environmental industry and identify economic sectors that could receive preferential treatment from participating in the environmental industry, Thanh said.
Xuyen of the environmental administration said it would be a good idea to create favourable conditions for cement factories to participate in processing hazardous waste.vAdditionally, the Government should help oil exploiting and processing companies equip themselves to deal with oil slicks. (PNA/VNS)