The implementation of a tax on plastic bags which began this year has kick-started the production of biodegradable and eco-friendly bags, but to date there are still no official regulations for these environmental friendly products.

HCM City-based Van Cuong Phat Company President Pham The Hao said that his company sold 300,000 unwoven bags in the last three months of 2010, triple the amount sold the in previous six months. His products have become a popular choice for many companies, shops or even conferences, Hao said.

Van Cuong Phat claims that its unwoven bags are made from 100 percent polypropylene spun bonded fabric using the hot seal technique which makes the bag ‘almost' 100 percent disposable. "These qualities have been approved by Sustainable Growth Solutions (SGS), a Hong Kong-based company" he said.

Many companies are making eco-friendly bags or other products, but their green credentials are self-professed, rather than relying on a domestic set of green criteria.

Thai Quynh Hoa, Head of Daily Life Product Office under the Ministry of Sciences and Technology's Quality Control Department said there had yet to be standard quality criteria set for such products issued by the Government.

An owner of an unwoven bag making company in HCM City who wants to remain anonymous said: "We visited many government offices but none of them could provide us with a standard regulation on these products. They asked us to create our own measure and make our products based on that. It's just not persuasive to our customers."

Professor Nguyen Dinh Tuan, Rector of HCM City College of Natural Resources and Environment said that in theory, products that are made of cellulose are easier to dispose when buried than plastic products. But how effective these unwoven bags are to the environment still remained unclear, he said./.