Recycling an urgent imperative in Vietnam as e-waste piles up hinh anh 1Hoa Sen University students and staff discard e-waste in a recycling dustbin on campus. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Scientific and technological advances stimulate demand for newer models of electrical and electronic products and disposal of outdated ones, which require proper recycling.

Ten universities in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are carrying out programmes to improve students’ knowledge of the harm caused by e-waste and encourage them to dispose of their waste in dustbins for recycling.

They are cooperating with the Vietnam Recycles programme instituted by the Vietnam Recycling Platform (VRP), a consortium of leading producers of electrical and electronic equipment founded to reduce electronic waste, enhance recycling and manage the environmental, health and safety impacts of products at their end of their life cycles.  

Vietnam Recycles employees visit the universities to collect the e-waste and transport it to partner factories for safe disposal.

Le Thi Minh Hanh, a student at Hoa Sen University, one of the 10, said: “I have several discarded electronic and electric products. I often put them in my mother’s box in our warehouse because we do not know where to dispose or recycle them.”

Hanh has recently brought the trash to the university to dispose in the recycling dustbins after she came to know the university was collecting e-waste.

Assoc Prof Dr Bui Xuan An, head of Green University Project at Hoa Sen University and vice chairman of the Vietnam Biogas Association, said the amount of e-waste collected and recycled in the country is very low.

“The remains are discarded indiscriminately, causing environmental pollution and harm to the next generation.”

Assoc Prof Dr Pham Van Tat, head of Hoa Sen’s environmental engineering faculty, said e-waste consists of tin, copper and other metals, which are oxygenated and absorbed into soil and water when they are discarded in rubbish dumps, causing harm to human health.

“When collected, these metals are sorted and used by factories. Hazardous substances are treated.”

According to the World Health Organisation, “Children are especially vulnerable to the health risks that may result from e-waste exposure and, therefore, need more specific protection.

“Children may be exposed through dump sites located close to their homes, schools and play areas.”

Mai Thi Thu Hang, business development manager at Reverse Logistics Group which runs Vietnam Recycles, said that the collection and recycling programme is in the pilot phase in Hanoi and HCM City. It began in 2015, she said.

“That year 850 kilogrammes of e-waste were collected. The figure has now increased to more than 10 tonnes.”

Besides the university campuses, many dustbins have also been installed at many ward-level people’s committees and wholesaler Mega Market.

Vietnam Recycles also sends workers to households in the two cities to collect e-waste, she said.

People can call a hotline at 0933882205 or contact via email or Facebook when they have large electronic equipment or 10 small pieces of equipment to discard, she added.

Dr Nguyen Duc Quang of the Hanoi University of Technology told the Government portal that the country’s e-waste is increasing by 100,000 tonnes annually, mostly from households, offices and illegal imports which comprise defective and discarded products from other countries.

According to An of Hoa Sen University, importing such wastes should be prevented through a comprehensive legal framework.-VNS/VNA