Imported scrap backlogs at ports in Vietnam
In 2016, Vietnam had imported more than 4.8 million tons of scrap, including iron, steel, plastic and paper. The volume had increased to more than 6.5 million tons last year, reaching over four million tons in the first half of this year.
In the January-June period, plastic waste imports amounted to 277,700 tons, well above 245,800 tons imported in 2016.
As of July 25, nearly 3,600 waste containers had been left unattended at the Cat Lai Port in Ho Chi Minh City and some 1,500 scrap containers had been left at the Haiphong Port in Haiphong City.
Customs officials attributed the backlog of scrap containers at the local ports to China’s suspension of 24 types of scrap imports.
Au Anh Tuan, head of the Customs Supervision and Management Division under the General Department of Vietnam Customs, said that many waste importers have yet to complete customs clearance procedures as they have failed to meet the requirements on environmental protection to import scrap as production materials, leading to the surge of waste containers at the ports.
As waste containers pose a high risk for environmental pollution, shipping companies and port service providers have proactively stopped accepting waste shipments, Tuan added.
News website Vietnamplus quoted Nguyen Khanh Quang, deputy head of the Anti-smuggling Investigation Division under the General Department of Vietnam Customs, as saying at the press conference that one of the major difficulties in managing waste imports is the falsification of required documents by importers.
He cited the example of Duc Dat, a waste importer headquartered in Ninh Binh Province. The firm has been prosecuted for deliberately falsifying waste import documents.
Under prevailing regulations, waste importers submit copies of the required documents, forcing the competent agencies to collect the original ones during investigations.
In addition, importers are not willing to cooperate with the customs agencies, hindering the investigations, Quang reportedly said.
Mai Xuan Thanh, deputy general director of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, said the customs agencies had found it difficult to detect those enterprises without certificates of eligibility for environmental protection on scrap imports granted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as the list of all eligible waste importers has yet to be publicized on the national single window portal.
Another hindrance is that the customs officials are required to take four to five waste samples per container, which means they need to open all the containers, but the available space at the ports to carry out this exercise is limited.
Besides this, the customs agencies need to review, classify and address abandoned waste containers at the ports. Transport firms have been assigned to carry the imported waste that is likely to cause environmental pollution out of Vietnam.
However, the competent agencies have not introduced penalties for transport firms that fail in their duty, according to the Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper.
Therefore, the General Department of Vietnam Customs will soon propose penalties. It is also expected to suggest a reduction in the volume of waste imports and a waste import ban in the future.
Meanwhile, the municipal and provincial governments should ask the port service providers in their localities to store the abandoned waste containers in specific areas at the ports.