Source: United Nations Development Programme
It is estimated that Vietnam, a nation of 96 million people, discharges 2,500 tons of plastic waste into the ocean every day. The Southeast Asian nation ranks fourth in the world for total volume of plastic waste. For those whose livelihoods depend on the health of Vietnam’s treasured Ha Long Bay, the situation of plastic pollution is becoming a serious threat. Unfortunately, the local fishing and tourism industries that count on the bay’s rich ecosystem and biodiversity are, themselves, major polluters.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has stepped in through its Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (SGP) to work with the Farmers’ Association of Quang Ninh province to mobilize coastal communities around the bay to increase solid waste collection and treatment, including the plastic waste generated by local households.
Funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee, the project hopes to develop a community-based model for domestic waste management.
Already the project has properly separated 1,000 metric tons of plastic waste from the bay and 150 metric tons of plastic collected by freelance waste workers from their individual households, fishing boats, and tourist boats. Perhaps more importantly, the project raises awareness and builds the capacity for local communities to address the plastic crisis and offer financial and technical support to the waste collectors, most of whom are women.
Because informal workers are Vietnam’s largest labor force contributing to the recycling and reuse of waste, the project has been highly successful in recognizing and supporting this sector of society as role models and key agents of change.
Read more on this story from the UNDP.