Medical and industrial waste is treated at HCM City Urban Environment Company Limited’s treatment plant in Hoc Mon district’s Dong Thanh commune. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Ho Chi Minh City is under great pressure to handle an increasing amount of domestic waste as well as hazardous medical and industrial waste, according to the municipal Department of Planning and Investment.

The rapid increase in population in the city, by an estimated 200,000 a year, is driving demand for investment in waste treatment facilities, it said.

It said a decade ago, 6,000 – 6,500 tonnes of domestic waste generated daily, but this has now increased to 9,000 – 12,000 tonnes, sometimes 15,000 tonnes.

Construction waste has increased from 5000 tonnes to 1,500 tonnes, hazardous waste from 150 tonnes to nearly 500 tonnes, and medical waste from 13 tonnes to nearly 100 tonnes.

Huynh Minh Nhut, director of the HCM City Urban Environment Company Limited, said these figures only represent the waste being collected and processed by waste treatment companies.

While there still a large volume of industrial and medical waste from facilities secretly discharged into the environment unknown to the authorities.

According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), solid waste treatment facilities remain meagre.

Currently, the main domestic solid waste treatment facility for the city is Da Phuoc, which handles around 70 percent of the total waste.

The remaining amount is handled by Tam Sinh Nghia Joint Stock Company and Vietstar.

But most of it is dumped in landfills, which is not an eco-friendly solution and the bad odour from them makes life miserable for people living nearby.

The disposal of industrial waste and emissions are not carefully monitored.

There are several industrial waste dumps in suburban districts like Thu Duc, 12, Binh Tan, Tan Phuc, Hoc Mon, and Binh Chanh which were disposed inappropriately to the environment by production companies.

As for emissions, though the city has been making efforts to improve public transport, the number of private vehicles continues to increase at breakneck speed.

Nguyen Thi Thanh My, deputy director of the DNRE, said the department is seeking to attract more bids for treatment of garbage and wastewater and recommending that the municipal People’s Committee increase adjust tariff for wastewater treatment.

These measures are expected to make environmental projects more attractive to investors and help reduce the burden on the city’s finances.

Nhut said his company wants the city People’s Committee to allow it to produce electricity by burning garbage using Japanese technology instead of burying it.

It has also sought permission to build a construction waste treatment plant, he added.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Group has explored the opportunity to invest in domestic waste treatment with waste-to-energy technologies.

Last November, Tasco Joint Stock Company began construction of its waste-to-energy waste treatment plant in the outlying district of Cu Chi.

With a capacity to handle 500 tonnes of waste a day, and expected to increase in future to meet demand, the plant will begin operation next year.

The city is soliciting investment in waste treatment, especially waste-to-energy technologies, to reduce the rate of burial to 50 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2050.-VNA