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RECOVER Project Paves Way to a Circular Economy in Ho Chi Minh City

Amongst myriads of initiatives on building a world without waste where everyone plays an active part, Yunus Environment Hub partnered with ALBA Group Asia Limited to facilitate the RECOVER project. The project ran over 2.5 years (from July 2021 to December 2023) with the goal to optimise plastic waste collection system involving the informal sector in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The project focused specifically on accelerating plastic pollution actions, promoting recycling and transition to a circular economy.

Over 1,000 waste workers in the environmental cooperatives and 50 small and medium entrepreneurs in the plastic value chain in Ho Chi Minh City participated during the program. Participants gained knowledge and awareness on the core topics, improved capacity and infrastructure, technical support, and market linkages in the value chain to enhance collection, recycling, and reduce risks of plastic waste leakages into the environment. They also received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) packs such as protective clothes, gloves and face masks, helping to protect them from health and safety risks in daily work.

The 50 recyclable waste collection establishments located in areas with key scrap business activities such as Thu Duc, Nha Be, Cu Chi, Hoc Mon, Binh Chanh and Can Gio districts of Ho Chi Minh City participated in forming a pilot supply chain network. RECOVER program participants benefited from a series of capacity group trainings on Environment-Health-Safety (EHS) combined with tailor-made on-site consulting sessions to improve business finance efficiency and digital skills in applying block chain technologies in waste-related data management and tracking. The small and medium entrepreneurs also received practical tools and equipment such as reusable containers, electric weights, balers, heavy weightlifting aids, and bottle label-removing cages to help increase operational efficiency at their facilities.

One notable achievement of the RECOVER program is the market linkages created between suppliers and licensed plastic recyclers through an improved pilot supply chain set-up. This will lead to better trading terms and more profitable business relationships in the long term.

In addition to the training and consulting activities, the project also introduced an experimental digital application called EMPOWER to the project participants. YEH consulted interested stakeholders including the collection agents themselves, policy makers, environmentalist, academia and other service providers on digitalization of the plastic value chain through 50 individual training sessions and a consultation workshop themed “Digitalization of the Plastic Value Chain”.

The digital trainings aimed to:

  1. Raise awareness toward the application of digital tools and block chain technology in waste management in general and in the plastic value chain in particular in the context of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and circular economy.
  2. Provide participants with valuable insights to promote systematic change, to increase data management and transparency, enhance collection rate and bridge the gaps of EPR implementation in Vietnam.

As a result of the RECOVER project, a pilot collection system has been established in collaboration with stakeholders. This system is expected to grow and evolve, transitioning into an effective supply chain which will significantly contribute to the improvement of the recycling industry. Furthermore, it will play a pivotal role in promoting a circular economy, supporting the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), and, most importantly, reshaping the environment to eliminate plastic waste pollution.

The RECOVER project was initiated and implemented according to the public-private partnership (PPP) model, with the participation and co-financing of DEG (Member of the KfW Banking Group) and ALBA Group Asia Limited – one of the world’s leading companies in the field of recycling, environmental services, supply of raw materials and recycled materials, with headquarters in Germany.

During the project’s closing event, Mr. Amirul Adli, Project Development Officer at ALBA Group Asia Limited, expressed, “With the EPR that is coming up next month, we think that this project has given us a vital base to start to create a larger system to benefit a larger scope of collectors in Vietnam. The additional funding from the EPR legislation has the potential to translate these initial successes into a more sustainable collection system that will help to transform the lives of collectors for the better.”