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12 associations proposed to the Prime Minister draft decree on the Law on environmental protection

10:14 | 15/11/2021

VCN - As outstanding issues in the draft Decree detailing a number of articles of the Law on environmental protection in 2020 are inconsistent with Vietnam's current laws and practical conditions, causing difficulties for businesses, 12 associations have just submitted a petition to the Prime Minister.

12 associations representing many key industries sent a petition to the Prime Minister
12 associations representing many key industries sent a petition to the Prime Minister

Twelve associations representing many of Vietnam’s key industries signed a document to propose several major contents in the draft that has just been submitted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to the Government for promulgation.

Representatives of the associations said that they were especially interested and had many direct comments to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on the draft.

At the meeting on October 18, 2021, with 15 associations, after hearing the comments, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha directed the Drafting Board to amend seven groups of issues in the Draft for four major contents (licensing, monitoring, administrative procedures, and expanded responsibilities).

However, in the latest draft the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment submitted to the Government for consideration and promulgation, there were still many other unresolved issues under the direction of Minister Tran Hong Ha.

The remaining issues in the draft are not consistent with Vietnam’s current laws and practical conditions, causing difficulties for businesses and the country's development without encouraging environmental protection, especially administrative procedures and application-approval mechanisms.

The associations proposed and asked the Prime Minister to direct many major contents. In which, it is necessary to simplify the environmental licensing procedures and switch to post-inspection instead of pre-inspection. The licensing procedures need to be reviewed, and the time for online issuance should also be clearly defined.

It is necessary to amend or abolish regulations that are not suitable with Vietnamese practice, seriously affecting the enterprises’ investment, business, and operating environment.

Specifically, the draft still has some shortcomings, such as: the roadmap to limit single-use plastic is not suitable, without a specific list as in international practice. This will cause great difficulties for production, business, and people's lives, while its impact on the environment will be negligible (disposable infusion lines, disposable syringes, including Covid-19 vaccine syringes, single-use medicine bottles, and U-bend straws will be banned from January 1, 2026 in many locations). With this regulation, according to businesses, it is necessary to have a specific list of restrictions.

Additionally, the regulation that the seafood processing industry poses a risk to the environment is unreasonable. That is because wastewater from the seafood processing industry has the same criteria as domestic wastewater. Many other food processing industries such as dairy and confectionery exclude the category of environmental risks. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust regulations with the fisheries sector accordingly.

The draft removed the EPR Office but replaced it with an Assistant Office for the EPR Council, which was not appropriate because it is not included in the Law. The associations petitioned to abolish the establishment of the EPR Office or any similar State office. The task of recycling management is assigned to a specialized agency of the department.

Moreover, a clear regulatory framework should be added to manage “financial contributions to packaging, product recycling and waste treatment”. The associations recommended that the recycling should be done in the form of tenders to avoid a negative application-approval mechanism.

It is necessary to adjust the mandatory recycling rate to recycle products, packaging, and the contribution rate so that waste can be treated appropriately based on Vietnam’s science and practice. Currently, the draft is considering all packaging and products that are collected for recycling as waste, regardless of commercial value and non-commercial value. This goes against risk management and is inconsistent with circular economy practices and models.

The draft also equates eco-friendly materials and recycled plastics with non-environmentally friendly materials and conventional plastics. All the above materials are subject to a fee, thus discouraging environmental protection and the circular economy.

According to the associations, it is necessary to apply risk management and international experience. Accordingly, financial contributions are not collected for packaging, products of commercial value and environmentally friendly materials (such as packaging and products from paper and metal) but focus on requesting financial contributions to handle non-commercial value packaging and products.

The 12 business associations include: the Association of Food Transparency (AFT), the Vietnam Timber & Forest Products Association (VFA), the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), the Vietnam Dairy Association (VDA), the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the CropLife Vietnam, the Food and Foodstuff Association of HCM City (FFA), the Vietnam Business Association of High Quality Goods, the Viet Nam Tea Association (VITAS), the Vietnam Pesticide Association (VIPA), the US-ASEAN Business Council, and the Vietnam Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (VAMM).

By Lê Thu/ Ha Thanh