The Government of Vietnam has begun a process that will lead to new laws and regulations developed on the import of recycled materials.
A high-level meeting has been held involving Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha, officials from the Vietnam Environment Administration, Government Office, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of Transportation.
Large increase in imported materials
At the meeting, it was revealed that volumes of imported scrap materials are expected to rise by two times that of 2016 in 2017, and even more in 2018. Of these, iron, steel, plastic, paper and granulated slag have seen the fastest import growth.
In particular, it was revealed that the amount of imported resin seen in the first five months of 2018 has doubled that for the whole of 2017.
There was a recognition that much of this was as a result of strong growth in industrial production in Vietnam and this was providing vital raw materials.
China and Thailand impact on Vietnam recycling imports
However, it was also noted that ports are struggling to deal with the volume of material arriving, particularly since China banned imports of plastics and mixed paper and restricted imports of other paper grades and metals. It was also said in the meeting that Thailand’s ban on waste imports was leading to more companies looking at Vietnam as a place to send materials.
Key ports have actually suspended imports of plastic and paper after containers were left on the dockside.
Vietnam Environment Administration deputy director Hoang Van Thuc said: “At present, the backlog of imported scrap at seaports is a major concern for the public. It affects the productivity and business of the ports, leads to slow circulation of goods, reduces the capacity of container yards, affects the operations of Customs, affects the operation of shipping lines and increases costs for business.”
He also revealed that there had been an increase in shipments arriving in Vietnam that have not completed import procedures that had led to congestion at ports. Some importers have also used outdated import certificates, forged certificates or used used the import certificates of other enterprises.
Some companies had also illegally imported materials and used ghost addresses on their import forms.
He also noted that Vietnam has no mechanism to inspect materials before they arrive at the dockside, with other countries having inspection regimes in the country of origin.
New recycling import laws being considered
Environment Minister Tran Hong Ha said that the relevant agencies should inform the shipping lines when they are required to provide sufficient information and records related to the imported scrap, or they will be held responsible.
He also suggested that those companies importing material will need to have advanced processing technologies or be prevented from importing waste materials.
The Minister added that low quality materials should not be allowed to be imported. In addition, containers that include unlicensed material or with an unclear recipient should not be unloaded from the ship.
He also asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to direct inspections of materials and to look at new measures including fines for those who break the law.
Following the meeting, these measures would be put into a report to be sent to the Vietnamese Prime Minister with the aim of developing new laws and regulations to “prevent the massive import of scrap materials”.