Sustainability has become a key development priority in Vietnam to ensure the country’s long-term socioeconomic success as well as enhance national competitiveness, the “Circular Economy Plays an Efficient Role in Supporting Intersectional Growth” seminar organized by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD), and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) heard.

The Vietnamese Government has demonstrated solid commitment to sustainable development and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by taking concrete actions to follow the 2030 National Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The seminar centered around the concept of the circular economy and how to apply the model into business operations. While a traditional linear economy allows manufacturers to take natural resources to make products and services, and production and consumption waste then simply end up in landfill or natural ecosystems such as the ocean, a circular economy is a sustainable alternative to this model.

In a circular economy, manufacturers keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, and then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. Applying circular economy practices helps to minimize waste, drive greater resource productivity, address resource security/scarcity issues, and supports a more competitive economy.

According to Accenture Strategy research, a circular economy could unlock up to $4.5 trillion of value and millions of jobs in the global economy by 2030.

“While the idea of a circular economy has started to become popular in Vietnam, its practical application is still very limited, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, Secretary General of VCCI and Vice Chairman and Secretary General of VBCSD,

“I hope that the seminar will help the business community understand the vital role of the circular economy and encourage them to apply the model to their operations. Best practices of other businesses, such as those shared by Heineken Vietnam, are good examples for those who are still wondering where and how they should get started to be circular.”

Heineken Vietnam - the most sustainable company in Vietnam in the manufacturing sector in 2017 and 2018 - shared its circular economy practices at the seminar and how it not only reduces waste but also seeks to create value from this waste to benefit society and the environment.

In 2018, Heineken Vietnam pioneered a program to recycle over a ton of Tiger Beer bottle caps and to use those caps to create the iron to build a new bridge for a community in the Mekong Delta’s Tien Giang province.

Following on from this success, the campaign was expanded around Vietnam, with another bridge to be completed in the Delta’s An Giang province this September and one in Ho Chi Minh City at the beginning of 2020.

“We hope that our best practices will show other businesses how circular economy principles can be applied to any business with an innovation mindset,” said Mr. Matt Wilson, Corporate Affairs Director at Heineken Vietnam. “Moreover, our own experience has proved that a circular economy model is not only a great way to optimize our operations but also to enhance our competitiveness.”

Heineken Vietnam proactively promoted the circular economy approach in Vietnam’s business community in 2018 by holding circular economy workshops for 20 VBCSD members and providing sustainability workshops for 100 of its suppliers.