Retailers and residents in Hanoi are ditching plastic bags in favour of eco-friendly bags, according to the city's Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.

Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh, director of the Hanoi Environment Protection Fund, said several campaigns had been carried out to increase the public’s awareness of the impact of plastic bags on the environment.

Households, traditional markets, supermarkets and shopping centres are encouraged to use environmentally-friendly bags, the production of which will receive considerable policy support.

Other activities run by the fund include bicycle rides, idea competitions for plastic bag reduction measures, a ‘No Plastic Bag’ Sunday festival, and rubbish collections in a number of districts and wards throughout the city.

Additionally, the city is considering levying a tax on plastic bags, creating incentives for the promotion and production of eco-friendly bags.

According to a five-year survey conducted by the Environment Protection Fund, supermarkets, shopping centres and traditional markets are starting to use polypropylene-fiber bags and paper bags rather than plastic bags.

So far, the fund has raised 1.2 billion VND (57,143 USD), offering 90,000 environmentally-friendly bags to residents for free.

A 2009 Action Plan aims to reduce the use of plastic bags in Vietnam as part of the country’s efforts to protect the environment.

According to the plan, by 2020 the number of plastic bags used in supermarkets and shopping centres is to be reduced by 60 percent compared to 2010, and by 50 percent in traditional markets.

The plan also aims to collect and recycle 50 percent of plastic bags thrown away by 2020.-VNA