Vietnam sets out new standards for recycled plastics and paper imports

Vietnam recycling meeting
Vietnam Government looking at new recycling import laws and regulations

The Government of Vietnam has revealed its new national standards on how recycled plastics and paper can be imported into the country.

These new regulations are enforceable from 29 October 2018, and replace the rules that were introduced in December 2010.


As part of the regulations, circulars have been released that outline the rules and stress that materials must only be imported as raw materials for industrial production.

Circular 08/2018 / TT-BTNMT is for paper, plastics and steel.

For paper, only permitted HS codes can be exported to Vietnam, although the country hasn’t yet appeared to publish a full list of excluded codes. However, as we reported in July, it appears that Vietnam will ban the import of mixed paper. It could be though that Vietnam has decided to allow imports of mixed paper as long as it meets its new criteria.

Paper scrap, including coated paper, and cardboard will be permitted to be imported into the country. This will be paper or cardboard that has been used and is ready to be recycled or is waste material from the manufacturing process.

However, it is not allowed to import anything that contains oil, grease, chemicals or food. Anything covered in a flame retardant is also banned, as is unfinished paper or paperboard.

Chemicals, explosives, hazardous medical waste, inflammables and radioactive substances are not permitted.

Impurities such as dust, soil, sand, anti-fungal materials, and residues such as pins, tape and glues and other impurities are permitted as long as they do not exceed 2% of the volume of the consignment.

Moisture levels must also not exceed 20%.

Exporters must declare the amount of paper under a particular HS code for each bale in the import dossier, and other HS codes of paper must not exceed 20% of the total volume.

For plastics, these must meet the HS codes as permitted by Vietnamese law. As with paper, Vietnam has not published an updated HS code list, so it appears that materials will be allowed unless they do not meet the new criteria.

Plastics that will be allowed for import include:

  • Those waste plastics from manufacturing processes
  • PET bottles that have been used for water and carbonated drinks. The liquid must have been removed from the latter
  • Used plastics that are in the form of blocks, lumps, rods, strips, bands, braces, trays, sheets, pallets and plastic containers. Jumbo bags must be cut to form strips, sheets or tapes
  • Other plastics that do not meet the above criteria will be permitted as long as they are shredded, and cleaned of impurities. Pieces larger than 10cm cannot exceed 5% of the volume of the imported scrap.

Plastics that are banned for import include:

  • Those that are not shredded and cleaned of impurities as above
  • Those plastics that have been used to cover electrical goods
  • Any burned plastics.

Chemicals, inflammables, explosives, hazardous medical waste, and oils and fats derived from animals and plants are not permitted to be mixed with the plastics. Plastics containing radioactive material is also banned.

Permitted impurities include dust, soil and sand, printing impurities, labels and adhesives and other impurities as long as they do not exceed 2% of the volume of the consignment.

All of these permitted imports for paper and plastics must also meet new Vietnamese rules on inspections and shipping.

Vietnam also introduced a new law in September that put these measures in place, including ensuring that any recycled material was destined for manufacturing purposes.




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