Vietnam issues draft waste laws as part of environmental legislation

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Vietnamese Environment Minister Tran Hong Ha speaking at a workshop to launch the country's new environmental legislation

New draft waste laws have been published by the Government of Vietnam as part of its revised Law on Environmental Protection.

The legislation is now being consulted on with the aim of bringing the previous 2015 law up to date.

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As far as imports of recycled materials are concerned, Article 142 of the draft law covers the responsibilities and requirements for environmental protection and designates all permitted recyclates as “scrap”.

The first clause in this article states that “scrap imports from abroad into Vietnam must meet the standard specifications of the environment and on the list of permitted imports of scrap from overseas as raw materials for production”.

Vietnam introduced new specifications for imports of paper and plastics in 2018 and these appear unchanged by the current draft waste laws.

However, the law leaves open the ability to introduce revised specifications at any time with the open first clause of Article 142.

The next clause concerns the requirements that must be met by companies that are importing recyclate as raw materials for production. These are:

  • Having production facilities with technologies, recycling equipment, reuse, warehouses and yards reserved for gathering scrap to meet environmental protection requirements; have a plan to handle impurities accompanying scrap in accordance with imported scrap
  • Having an environmental impact assessment report appraised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Having an environmental license for the trial operation of waste treatment facilities or when the project is put into commercial operation
  • Pay a security deposit before the scrap is unloaded at the port for case of import
  • There needs to be a written commitment to repatriate or handle the scrap materials if it does not meet environmental protection requirements.

The rest of the legislation concerns meeting Vietnamese targets on climate change, water use, environmental production and domestic waste management.

Minister of the Environment, Tran Hong Ha, speaking at a workshop on the legislation, said: “The time has come for environmental issues to play a leading role in the socio-economic development model. The revision of environmental management policy is both to meet the demanding life requirements and to be the basis of the country’s development process.

“Environmental protection is not only a responsibility of the state, but also linked to the responsibilities, rights and rights of the people. This is the common work, the common responsibility of the entire political and social system.”

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