One of the greatest challenges for Vietnam in applying the circular economy model is the management of the collection and recycling of waste resources, the “Promoting a low-carbon circular economy - a Swedish perspective” workshop held on November 12 in Hanoi heard. The gathering focused on discussions of Vietnam’s policies and vision in promoting the model, successful case studies in Sweden and in the region, and enterprises’ approach to accessing capital to implement the model.

The workshop was co-organized by the Embassy of Sweden in Vietnam, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Hanoi People’s Committee, attended by Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam, H.E. Ann Måwe, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan, Deputy Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Doan Toan, and representatives from government agencies, non-profit organizations, institutes, universities, and enterprises actively involved in the circular economy, such as Tetra Pak, Food Industry Asia, PRO Vietnam, the Swedish Waste Management Association, and Circulate Capital.

Rapid growth and industrialization have not been friendly to Vietnam’s environment and natural assets. Waste generation is expected to double in less than 15 years. The country is among the ten countries worldwide that are most effected by air pollution. Meanwhile, less than 10 per cent of waste in Vietnam is recycled and a significant amount of waste ends up directly in landfills or the ocean.

With 13 million tons of waste released into the ocean each year, Vietnam ranks 17th in the world and fifth in Asia for ocean plastic waste pollution, releasing more than 500,000 tons per year. The circular economy is currently a global sustainable trend, and transformation from a conventional economy enables countries to deal with a scarcity of natural resources and high environment pollution.

“As one of the most sustainable countries in the world, Sweden is aiming for a zero-waste society,” said Ambassador Måwe. “Thanks to environmental awareness among its citizens, effective policies and incentives from the government, and an efficient waste collection system in place, Sweden has made great progress in its recycling revolution over the past two decades.”

“The percentage of recycled waste in households has increased from 38 per cent in 1975 to 99 per cent today. The circular economy in a simple way means reducing, reusing, and recycling. This also implies changed patterns of consumption. Sweden would happily share its experiences with Vietnam.”

According to Mr. Jeffrey Fielkow, Managing Director at Tetra Pak Vietnam, the company is working to achieve a circular economy by delivering solutions with the lowest carbon footprint and highest efficiency, minimizing the environmental impact on its own operations and working with partners towards circularity in their products. Tetra Pak is making good progress to reach a 42 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and achieve its commitment to 100 per cent renewable electricity supplied to its operations by 2030.

Local and foreign delegates at the workshop discussed establishing public-private partnerships, which is a key condition for a low-carbon circular economy model to be extensively and intensively expanded in Vietnam.