HCMC actively attracts waste treatment businesses

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is coping with intolerable pressure on waste processing due to its large population and manufacturing activities. Therefore, the municipal authorities are applying various methods to attract interested companies in the field of waste treatment to help tackle this thorny problem.

Household refuse is treated in the HCMC Urban Environment Company Limited. Photo by Cao Thang

Household refuse is treated in the HCMC Urban Environment Company Limited. Photo by Cao Thang

Statistics from the HCMC Department of Planning and Investment reveal that the city’s population increases around 200,000 people per year on average, creating considerable pressure on its infrastructure, especially the one to receive and process waste.

As an illustration, in 2009, the amount of household refuse was about 6,000 – 6,500 tons per day, yet it has rocketed to 9,000 – 12,000 tons a day at the moment, and even to 15,000 tons on peak days like the recent Tet holiday.

Construction trash and medical waste also witnessed a rise from only 500 tons and 13 tons each day to 1,500 tons and 100 tons, respectively.

Yet according to Mr. Huynh Minh Nhut, Director of the HCMC Urban Environment Company Limited, this huge amount is merely the one collected and treated by state units. There are still a large amount of waste illegally thrown into the environment.

All of them are pressurizing the already overloading infrastructure to receive and treat waste. Reports from the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment show that 70 percent of these normally enter Da Phuoc Integrated Waste Management Facility, and the other come to Tam Sinh Nghia Joint Stock Company or Vietstar Company. The remain after compost treatment process is usually buried in Phuoc Hiep Waste Treatment Facility.

Besides solid waste, gas and water ones are also a burden to HCMC. With the number of private motorcycles, cars, and manufacturing plants coming to 7.6 million, 700 thousand, and nearly 300 thousand, respectively, the level of air pollution in the city is truly alarming.

Despite the urgent needs for garbage treatment, current facilities are quite limited. Household refuse treatment still mostly depends on burying technologies, severely affecting the living conditions of people around.

What is more, industrial waste in outskirt districts of Thu Duc, 12, Binh Tan, Tan Phu, Hoc Mon, or Binh Chanh is not strictly controlled at the moment, leading to illegal release into the environment.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh My, Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment, her organization is doing its best to attract businesses to invest in household refuse, mud waste, and sewage treatment so that it can adjust the corresponding service fee.

This solution is expected to appeal to more related companies while reducing potential pressure on the state budget.

Since June 1, 2018, the HCMC People’s Committee has already eliminated the mechanism to subsidize the fee for medical waste treatment for private clinics that can earn profit and only partially support the fee for public ones. Industrial waste treatment, accordingly, is the responsibility of owners themselves, greatly decreasing the burden for the state budget.

To modernize the ability of waste treatment, Mr. Huynh Minh Nhut shared that he has already proposed a suggestion to the HCMC People’s Committee to change from the existing burying technology to the more advanced Japanese one in order to harness energy from waste. He also asked for the permission to build a new construction trash treatment facility.

In addition, Mitsubishi Group worked with the HCMC People’s Committee to investigate possible investment opportunities for waste-to-energy plants. Tasco Joint Stock Company was approved to build one such plant in the end of 2018 and is now carrying the project so that it can begin operation in 2020.

Many businesses voiced that although HCMC improved a great deal on investment procedures for this field, various related administrative works are still so complicated and devious that any interested company feel quite afraid.

Associate Professor Dr. Phung Chi Sy, former Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Institute for Tropical Technology and Environment Protection, said that household refuse treatment is lucrative to both domestic and international investors; therefore, HCMC should take full advantage of this to reduce state budget and improve the environment quality. The aspect of mud waste and sewage treatment, however, is not as attractive since there is no specific standard fee list for such services. 

By MINH XUAN – Translated by Vien Hong

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