Eco-design for circular economy

By Minh Khoi - Feb 20, 2022 | 08:20 AM GMT+7

TheLEADERHoang Duc Vuong, head of the Recycled Plastics Unit at the Vietnam Plastics Association, stresses that in a good circular economy model, the design of product packaging must be suitable for the goals of collection and recycling, not only in treatmeant progress.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is an excellent base in forming a modern recycling industry, in which waste sources are put into environmentally friendly recycling facilities.

It also creates a motivation for businesses to change their production and sales processes to make waste collection, recycling and treatment activities much easier. The approach not only helps businesses reduce their costs, but also creates sustainable and long-term benefits.

However, this process is still slow in Vietnam because there is lack of regulations on product packaging design, for example coverage rate of marks and labels, or ink that must recyclable, biodegradable, nontoxic.

The result is that recycling activities are so difficult to scale up, because it is only done by manual work by separating each label from each the water bottle.

In addition, some many businesses want to reduce plastic waste by reducing the weight of the packaging, but Vuong noted that the method also creates difficulties for collecting and recycling, because lighter weight means less value for scrap metal dealers who have to work more to get daily income.

He also emphasizes that ecological design is not a simple thing. The standard one needs joint hands of recyclers and businesses to achieve both goals at the same time, that are enough information of products and environment friendly processes.

Vietnam also lacks clear and strict requirements issued by regulatory bodies to ensure a fair market for all parties.

At a forum on sustainable development held at the end of last year, lots of business leaders expressed their willingness to change packaging and product design towards sustainability.

In fact, members of Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam (PRO Vietnam) have made improvements in their product and added eco-friendly factors.

For example, Coca-Cola switched Sprite from its iconic green bottle to a clear and transparent PET bottle to make it easier to recycle. With this important change in packaging design, it aims to boost the value of the packaging after use and drive-up recycling rates locally.

Suntory Pepsico Vietnam also removed the shrink film of its Aquafina bottle caps, saving 140 tons of plastic.

Nestlé Vietnam, another member of PRO Vietnam, is also one of the pioneers in environmental protection activities. It announced its commitment to make 100 per cent of its packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025.

Towards a zero-waste future, its La Vie has constantly improved packaging towards fully recyclable packaging design, minimising the weight of plastic bottles and supporting a circular economy.