EPR clarity sought to keep costs low

The business community has called for clearer criteria regarding extended producer responsibility in Vietnam that considers international standards and legal status.

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) has explained that rules in Vietnam on extended producer responsibility (EPR) introduced a mandatory recycled content rate in products introduced into the domestic market.

EPR in Vietnam is implemented via Decree No.08/2022/ND-CP implementing some articles in the Law on Environmental Protection, and an additional circular that were both made effective in January 2022. But these rules are deemed not enough.

“Today many recyclers don’t have, for example, the proper wastewater treatment. We would like to recommend publishing a clear list of criteria, including environmental criteria, considering international standards that the recyclers must fulfil in order to be registered as a recycler,” EuroCham cited at the Vietnam Business Forum organised over a week ago in Hanoi.

There are many systems to track waste such as composition, dirtiness, and other properties which are backed by a certification system. There is currently no bridge announced to the current certifications schemes available around the globe.

All producers and importers subject to recycling obligations are required to register and report on their recycling activities or declare their contribution to the Vietnam Environmental Protection Fund every year before March 31. If producers or importers authorise a third party to recycle on their behalf, the third party is responsible for registering and reporting on recycling activities.

Each type of packaging and product that needs to be recycled is subject to a mandatory recycling rate on the basis of the life cycle, disposal rate, and collection rate. The required rates will be measured and adjusted every three years.

EuroCham also recommends building a mutual recognition scheme between the international certification schemes and the data reporting about the waste collection and recycling inputs/outputs.

Meanwhile, Hong Sun, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Business in Vietnam, said that in accordance with the revised environment laws, when the environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval agency is changed from the existing provincial government to the central government agency depending on the possibility of generating pollutants and the amount of production, the time and cost would increase for issuing a permit for an EIA report, which acts as a burden on business activities.

“The appendix of the amended environment law stipulates the list of types of production, business, and services to cause environmental pollution. If this standard (weight of 1,000 tonnes or production of more than one million units per year) is exceeded, approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment must be obtained regardless of whether or not environmental pollution occurs,” Sun said.

Electrical and electronics industries often produce more than one million units a year, so most related companies, regardless of whether they are new or expanded, have to obtain permission from the central government again even if they have previously received EIA reports from provincial governments.

Since production activities are not allowed before obtaining permission, there are concerns that excessive time and cost will be incurred in undergoing EIA.

In terms of the automobile sector, there is currently no legal enforcement for vehicle owners to discard their vehicles to official/defined collection points, while Decree 08 regulates a mandatory collection/recycle rate of 0.5 per cent of the sales volume of the previous year, as of 2027.

“The government should soon issues a strong legal framework for vehicle discarding, as obligations will not be fulfilled without it,” noted EuroCham.

Vietnam Investment Review