Vietnam needs to adopt more environmentally-friendly ways of managing and disposing of solid waste, which is forecast to continue increasing due to the country's continued rapid industrialisation and urbanisation.

Collecting, transporting, treating and destroying solid waste create many headaches for authorities in developing countries, said Minister of the Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Minh Quang.

Ensuring sustainable solid waste management is one of seven priority programmes in the national strategy for environmental protection by 2020, said Quang.

Around 28 million tones of solid waste is discharged nationwide each year, according to the 2011 National Environment Report, which was released on August 7.

The report, which was made in co-operation by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Denmark Embassy in Vietnam, also said the volume of solid waste produced in Vietnam is increasing by 10 percent each year.

The report includes seven chapters, including an overview of solid waste in Vietnam and an analysis of the situation in urban and rural areas and the negative impacts of environmental pollution due to solid waste.

Hoang Duong Tung, Deputy director of the Vietnam Environment Administration, said about 46 percent of all solid waste is discharged in urban areas.

Nearly 17 percent of solid waste is a result of industrial production activities while the rest comes from agriculture, trade villages and the health sector, Tung said.

The solid waste discharged in urban areas is forecast to increase in volume by up to 51 per cent by 2015, he said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Construction report that rapid urbanisation created 755 small and large urban areas in the country by 2011.

Meanwhile, most of solid waste produced in urban areas is not classified at its source, Tung said.

Public awareness on the issue needs to be improved. People do not have the habit of classify waste according to if it can be recycled or not. People usually mixed both organic and inorganic waste together, said Mai Van Lap, head of the Hanoi-based Urban Environment and Industry Joint Stock Company's waste collection team No 3.

"We face health problems when collecting the waste, especially the solid and hazardous waste," Lap said.

Lap said the waste collection team begins their work at 5pm and only goes home when streets and residential areas are clean, he said.

The Japanese-funded Reduce-Reuse-Recycle programme was launched in 2003 in four key districts of the city but has failed to meet expectations, he said.

According to Minister Quang, the National Assembly and Government have submitted to review and adjust the national strategy on environmental protection, including the national strategy on integrated management of solid waste, to better suit practical conditions by 2020 and further ahead.

The Government needs to strengthen investment sources for treating and managing solid waste, said Quang.

For localities, more human resources and equipment are needed in order to solve the pressing issue of solid waste, he said.

Danish Ambassador to Vietnam John Nielsen said that ensuring sustainable solid waste management will be a long-term process for Vietnam.

To reach the target, Vietnam needs to exert more effort in developing human resources in the sector, investing in modern equipment and building a suitable strategy, he said.

Vietnam is now on the right track when building the National Green Growth Strategy by 2020, which has already been submitted to the Government, he said.-VNA