It is not classified as a social enterprise, but Duy Tan Plastic Recycling can assert its position among the most socially enterprising companies in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), especially when it comes to environmental protection. The reason is simple: its main scope of business is to collect and recycle plastic waste.
The company, with its factory built in late 2019 in HCMC’s neighboring province of Long An, started operation in 2020, with the first production line capable of recycling 30,000 tons of plastic waste a year, equivalent to approximately three billion plastic bottles, said Le Anh, sustainability vice president of Duy Tan Plastic Recycling.
Ahead of time
Duy Tan Plastic Recycling has ancicipated plastic waste becoming the biggest challenge to Vietnam’s environment, as some 80% of the waste ends up in landfill or the ocean, causing serious pollution for many generations to come. The company has also seen plastic waste as a resource to tap.
According to the Vietnam Plastic Association, of the annual import volume of over five million tons of plastic materials, most is consumed domestically. This situation is reflected in import-export data, which showed that the country imported up to US$19.6 billion worth of plastic products and materials in 2020, while it exported only US$5 billion worth.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, some 1.8 million tons of plastic waste is discharged into the environment, and between 280,000 tons and 730,000 tons of plastic waste finds its way into the ocean. The ministry stated that only 27% of plastic waste is collected by enterprises for treatment, but 90% of this modest amount ends up in landfills or incinerators, while only 10% is recycled.
Given the ministry’s data, it means less than 500,000 tons of plastic waste is recycled annually, and Duy Tan Plastic Recycling is the leading player in this noble cause. The company’s factory, covering 6.5 hectares, is in the process of expansion, and once in full team, it will have a capacity of recycling over 100,000 tons of plastic waste a year.
It is noted that Duy Tan Plastic Recycling made the move years ahead of time, spending up to VND1,600 billion to develop the factory before central authorities attended intensively to this problem.
In 2020, the National Assembly passed the 2020 Law on Environmental Protection, supplementing several provisions on reduce, reuse and recycle (3R) plastic waste. The law also means to restrict single-use plastic products and encourage production of environmentally friendly plastic items.
In the same year, the Prime Minister issued Directive No. 33/CT-TTg on boosting 3R, stressing that plastic pollution is becoming one of the biggest challenges facing the country.
With its project getting underway years earlier and starting operation in early 2020, Duy Tan Plastic Recycling has apparently jumped on the bandwagon of environmental protection regarding plastic waste recycle.
The company’s vice president noted that “with investment at more than VND1,600 billion, we are now the leading company in plastic recycle with modern machine imported from Europe.”
To secure sufficient plastic waste for recycling, Duy Tan Plastic Recycling has set up collection centers connected with more than 100 satellite collection stations in southern Vietnam.
Delivery of values
Sustainability Vice President Le Anh said that the company focuses on recycling rPET bottles and rHPPE bottles, “giving a new life to used bottles that will reduce plastic waste in both the ocean and landfills.”
However, for a pioneer in a market where virgin plastic materials are still favored, it is not quite easy for Duy Tan Plastic Recycling to convince users of plastic packaging products to accept the recycled materials. Anh said that the company is convincing users that Duy Tan Plastic Recycling’s materials meet all stringent standards on safety of the world.
Post-consumed bottles are sorted by color, flaked, washed, pelletized to produce high quality recycled plastic resin.
“We are working with many FMCG to encourage using recycled products. The good news is that many foreign-invested companies consider this is part of CSR in line with the global trend and they support. However, local companies are still hesitant,” he said.
In fact, Duy Tan Plastic Recycling’s project is said to have approached the leading plastic recycling technology in the world today, and its products are certified to have met several international criteria like FDA, FSSC22000, and GMP. They are treated and recycled to become clean, food-safe and hygienic plastic materials applied to food packaging production.
Anh said he is confident that while the participation of central authorities in promoting 3R will play a decisive role, education campaigns being waged nationwide will encourage consumers as well as the business circle to change their habit and accept recycled materials.
Recently, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has issued regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which is a policy approach under which producers are mandated with a significant responsibility for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. Assigning such responsibility could in principle provide incentives to prevent wastes at the source, promote product design for the environment and support public recycling and materials management goals.
Anh said such regulations will pave the way for the popularization of recycled plastic material.
“ERP will apply in 2024 and this law will support Vietnam’s recycle industry and make our country clean, green and beautiful,” he remarked.
Commenting on the CSR trend in the business community, Anh said that companies want to contribute to the community not only finance but also to the country’s environment and other social commitments, and “Duy Tan Plastic Recycling proudly contributes to Vietnam by our activities” of promoting environmental protection as the key component of sustainability.
“Duy Tan Plastic Recycling is a leading company in plastic recycle, all our activities are considered as CSR as our operations contribute direct to Vietnam’s environment, reduce plastic waste and give new life to plastic bottles,” he said.