Waste treatment must improve: experts

Ninety percent of waste in Vietnam is buried by an outdated, environmentally ineffective method that is costly and requires large plots of land, delegates heard at a conference held last week in the central province of Binh Thuan.

HCM City leads with 7,000 tonnes of waste per day, most of it buried.

"Burial of waste is the easiest and cheapest method, but it needs a huge area, at least 10 – 15 hectares," Chu Van Hai, Director of HCM City's Testing and Analysis Service Centre, was quoted as saying in the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper.

The costs, which are also high, cover waste classification and treatment, water drainage systems, fence and microbiological agents to reduce odors.

Even after burial, rats and insects can spread the waste, which is then absorbed into the land and pollutes water resources.

"Waste after burial can also be dug up by people who are looking for scrap iron," he said.

New technologies, including incineration and compression, and methods that would create microbiological fertiliser or construction materials from waste, are being used around the country, but only for testing at this time.

Many experts have agreed that incinerator technology, which would cost several million US dollars, would be environmentally friendly. But Vietnam must first train human resources, and begin to classify waste (for example, whether to burn it or use for fertiliser production).

The Cao Nguyen Da Lat Green Environment Limited Company has invested in an incinerator made with German technology, located in the Central Highlands province of Da Lat's Bao Loc town.

It has a capacity of 70 – 80 tonnes of waste per day, and does not emit exhaust or odors. Its limited size also saves land that can be used for other purposes.

"Daily waste can become something useful if the local government can recycle, reuse and regenerate, and avoid the burial of waste," said Ngo Xuan Tiec, General Director of Tam Sinh Nghia Limited company, which has seven incinerators with capacity of 130 tonnes of waste a day.

New policies are needed, according to Huynh Minh Nhut, Director of the HCM City Urban – Environment Limited Company.

"To increase the quality of environmental protection, the Government should develop policies to encourage investment from different economic groups," he said.