Dau Anh Tuan, head of VCCI’s Legal Department addresses the seminar held  in Hanoi on October 16. (Photo: VNA).

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam holds great potential to develop its paper industry and is likely to rake in more than 1 billion USD a year from paper exports, heard a seminar in Hanoi on October 16.

The seminar on “Policy Solutions for Sustainable Development of the Paper Industry in Vietnam” was co-hosted by the Vietnam Pulp and Paper Association (VPPA) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), focusing on the importance of the key role of the paper industry in the economy, benefits and potential of recycling waster paper and proposing solutions to manage recycled paper.

Vietnam’s paper demand is forecast to grow at 8-10 percent per year in the future and the country annually imports nearly 2 million tonnes of paper for consumption and manufacturing demand, according to VPPA.

However, Vietnam should have proper management policies on import and treatment of waste paper, experts said.

“About 70 percent of Vietnam’s paper was produced from the recycling of scrap paper, only 40 percent of which are collected locally, the rest must be imported,” said Phan Chi Dung, director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Light Industry Department.

“For large and specialised enterprises such as foreign-invested enterprises, they need a paper material source that is safe and clean, thus they have to import scrap materials for production because of domestic shortage in materials,” Dung said.

“Any paper business, whether they use scrap or other materials, whether they import materials or procure them domestically, they can potentially cause environmental pollution if they don’t have tight management measures for their production process,” he said.

“That is not to mention the concerns that the import of scrap can turn Vietnam into a landfill. However, this will become true only if the imported raw materials are not treated properly. Once the material is important and traded globally, we should carefully consider whether to ban the item.”

"Waste paper or paper scrap is an irreplaceable source in the paper industry," said VPPA Vice Chairman Hoang Trung Son.

“In many developed countries like Japan, the US and China, recycling scrap paper has been encouraged and has become a trend, even becoming a green industry that contributes to environmental protection, creating more economic value,” Son said.

Recyclable paper should not be considered as “waste” but more like “a source of raw materials for the paper manufacturing industry, Son said, adding that to increase efficiency in the collection, treatment and recycling of waste paper, it is necessary to strengthen post-inspection at paper manufacturing plants, which Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and India is exercising right now.

At the workshop, participants also discussed the draft amending the Decision No. 73/2014/QD-TTg stipulating the list of scraps allowed to be imported for production materials. Most of them agreed that the management of scrap must be tighter as some enterprises have taken advantage of loopholes in policies to import “waste” into Vietnam, polluting the environment.

However, many types of scrap paper, such as composite paper, are still an important raw material for the recycling industry. But this item is considered to be removed from the list of imports in the near future, leading to many problems for businesses.

Pham Dinh Thuong, a policy analyst, said the Government’s sudden tightening the paper material management had made enterprises fall into a passive mode because their factories have had to halt operations for the lack of materials, causing stagnate production. This would also cause spillover effects to many other industries such as the packaging industry, the export industry, Thưởng said.

Dau Anh Tuan, head of VCCI’s Legal Department, said that Vietnam should consult the import paper management policy of other countries to develop policies in line with domestic demand situation and international practices.

“It is absolutely necessary for the relevant State bodies to consult enterprises in order to have a more objective view to gradually formulate and perfect this legal framework,” Tuan said.-VNA