Vietnamese National Assembly passes new waste import laws

Vietnamese National Assembly deputies
Deputies at the Vietnamese National Assembly vote to pass the new Law on Environmental Protection

The Vietnamese National Assembly has passed the Law on Environmental Protection (revised) 2020 that includes new rules on the import of waste.

It will become law from 1 January 2021 and will ban the import of solid waste materials only for them to be transited to another country.


Vietnam also plans to introduce minimum import quality standards and introduce a deposit system when material enters the country.

Article 71 is headed “Environmental protection of in scrap import” and states:

“1. Scraps imported from abroad into Vietnam must satisfy environmental technical regulations and are on the List of scrap permitted to be imported from abroad for use as raw production materials promulgated by the Prime Minister.

2. Organisations and individuals may only import scrap for use as raw production materials for their production establishments and must satisfy the following environmental protection requirements:

a) Have a production facility with recycling and reuse technology and equipment, a dedicated warehouse or yard for scrap gathering, meeting environmental protection requirements; to have a plan for handling impurities accompanying scrap in accordance with imported scrap;

b) Have an environmental license;

c) Make a deposit for environmental protection as prescribed in Article 137 of this Law prior to the time the scrap is unloaded at the port, for cases of import through a sea checkpoint or into the territory of Vietnam. other combination;

d) There is a written commitment to re-export or treat scrap in case the imported scrap fails to meet the requirements for environmental protection.

3. The Government shall detail this Article.”

On developing future new regulations on the import of materials, the new law says that these regulations must “prevent the exploitation of waste into Vietnam” and that the regulations need to be reviewed every five years or earlier if they are not found to promote high quality environmental management.

“Regulations on the import of solid waste materials must also meet the following principles:

a) The environmental technical regulations on management of scrap imported as raw production materials is one of the bases for customs clearance of imported scrap shipments. In case of failure to meet the requirements, it must be re-exported according to the provisions of law;

b) Environmental technical regulations on management of scrap imported as raw production materials are applicable to each batch of imported scrap registered for inspection, except for cases exempted from inspection as prescribed by law.”

Interestingly, the law passed by the Vietnamese National Assembly also includes a clause that new regulations should introduce quality import standards. The clause says:

“The environmental technical regulations on management of scrap imported as raw production materials must provide for the technical requirements, management and maximum permissible impurity rate in the imported scrap cargo.”

In the wide ranging document, it also includes new legislation on Vietnamese domestic waste management, air and water quality and climate change mitigation among others.

Paul’s view

Paul Sanderson, REB Market Intelligence
Paul Sanderson, REB Market Intelligence

There will be a sigh of relief from those that export to Vietnam that there is nothing too stringent in the new law that hasn’t previously been announced.

Vietnam had already revealed that it was going to ban the transit of materials via Vietnam to elsewhere, and payment of deposits by importers on each load had also previously been announced.

There will be some concern though that the regulations allow for new maximum import limits, but there is no detail on this as yet.

In debating the Bill, some Vietnamese politicians had called for more stringent measures, but nothing made it into the Law.

However, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc this month issued a decree that mixed paper imports will be banned at the end of 2021 and all plastics will not be permitted for import in 2024.

Clearly, there is some breathing room for exporters to Vietnam, but there is also the possibility it will get tougher over the coming years.

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