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Vietnam Might Fine Supermarkets, Malls for Single-Use Plastic Bags in 2026

Large retailers providing single-use plastic bags could be subject to fines beginning in 2026.

Nguyễn Trung Thắng, deputy head of the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, explained the plan earlier this week while noting that measures to ensure reusable receptacles are available in 100% of stores by 2025 are underway. No specific details were shared regarding the specific fine amounts nor policies for stores that cannot be defined as malls or supermarkets.

The details were shared during a workshop for the Plastic Alliance project, which aims to unite retailers to curb the use of single-use plastic products. Since their launch last year they have discussed aspirations to transition customers to reusable bags and alternative containers and reduce the use of plastic in packaging, shipping and storage. Members include Big C, Mega Market, Co.op Mart, Lotte Mart and AEON.

Vietnamese supermarkets supply a purported 104,000 single-use plastic bags per day. A 2019 World Bank study concluded that Vietnamese households use an average of 35 plastic bags every week, which means that the country consumes 938 million plastic bags a week. In addition to being one of the world's largest contributors to plastic waste, Vietnam also imports plastic waste for recycling of dubious efficiency and disposal.

Ambitious plans to curtail plastic use in Vietnam are nothing new. Last year, Saigon city officials had hoped to see major retailers eliminate single-use plastic bags by the end of 2021. The goal was to rely on stores to no longer offer single-use bags and thus compel customers to adopt different habits.

As Vietnam grapples with this plastic problem, small-scale innovators are looking to plastic for a variety of purposes including producing casual socks, durable furniture, and a variety of knick-knacks including wall-climbing holds and coasters.

[Top photo by Thiên Trường via Doanh Nghiep.]

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