Recalling of outdated vehicles in Vietnam faces obstacles
Regulations on recalling outdated motorbikes took effect on January 1, 2018 under Decision No. 16 of the Prime Minister, but the recalling of outdated vehicles remains a “mission impossible”.
In rural and mountainous areas, people still adapt seriously degraded motorbikes into new “vehicles” used to carry goods. The key issue is the difference in regulations of the vehicle's lifespan, the needs of the people, and the manufacturer's point of view.
On October 18, at a meeting chaired by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) on the amended Decree on Environmental Protection Law, a representative of the Vietnam Association of Motorcycle and Automobile Manufacturers mentioned difficulties in collecting and recycling cars and motorbikes from consumers (2% of total products).
Representatives of these associations said that besides the difficulties in recalling outdated vehicles for manufacturers, old motorbikes and motorbikes are still an asset for people. In fact, Vietnamese people change the functions of these vehicles to turn them into a kind of vehicle to transport goods in rural and mountainous areas or sell them to scrap collectors, who will then dismantle and recycle the outdated vehicles for spare parts and waste materials. In addition, the draft Decree does not specify the responsibility of consumers.
A Representative of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said that the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 stipulates a roadmap on removing vehicles using fuels that cause pollution. Currently, many old cars and motorbikes are the cause of air pollution. He said that the regulation on the rate of recycling outdated vehicles (2%) is difficult to implement, but this is the responsibility of the manufacturer.
Where do outdated vehicles go before being recalled?
The old vehicles go to scrap recycling villages. Hundreds of craft villages and thousands of establishments purchase outdated cars and motorbikes and dismantle them for spare parts and scrap. Te Lo craft village in Yen Lac district, Vinh Phuc province is an example.
Outdated vehicles are recycled at craft villages, and not transferred to vehicle manufacturers and importers.
According to Decision 16, auto and motorbike manufacturers must organize the recall of discarded products that they have sold in the Vietnamese market. However, this is an extremely difficult task.
According to the Vietnam Register (Ministry of Transport), there are about 40 million motorbikes, including those used from the 1980s and 1990s, are in circulation. From 2015 onwards, each year there will be about 15,000 expired cars and motorbikes.
Regulations on recalling obsolete vehicles are considered necessary to reduce environmental pollution and traffic accidents. However, the recall is difficult because people are not willing to hand over their old vehicle but will rather sell it to scrap collectors or users in remote areas.
In addition, different types and brands of vehicles, the actual time of using of the vehicle, and how they are maintained are important factors to decide the quality of vehicles. Even vehicles that are not expired but have poor maintenance are still a potential safety risk.
Thus, the recall of vehicles must be based on vehicle quality and safety, not merely on the time of use.
The Ministry of Transport previously proposed the useful life of motorbikes of eight years or 100,000 km. The proposal was rejected, saying that this would affect the poor.
According to Decision 16, consumers can choose forms of recall such as: giving the outdated vehicles to relevant organizations and enjoying benefits according to the policy of the manufacturer. Consumers have the right to require manufacturers to accept the discarded products. However, it depends on people's self-discipline and compliance.
Environmental expert Hoang Duong Tung, former Deputy Director of the General Department of Environment (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), said that there are incorrect understandings about Decision No. 16. If the motorbikes are outdated, but still work well, people still have the right to use them normally. And there is no government agency to recall that product.
The spirit of Decision 16 is to encourage businesses and manufacturers to be ultimately responsible for their products. It shows the responsibility of businesses to society in environmental protection.
Hanoi currently has more than 2.6 million motorbikes that have been used for 15 to 25 years. These are not only potential hazards to travellers but also a direct contributor to air pollution.
On January 18, 2021, the Prime Minister issued the Directive on strengthening control of air pollution, assigning Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces and cities with high risk of air pollution to strictly implement the local air quality management plan; and recall outdated vehicles that do not meet circulation standards, causing environmental pollution.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has asked provinces and cities to strengthen air pollution control and thoroughly handle hotspots of dust and exhaust pollution. The ministry has also asked Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to withdraw outdated motor vehicles that do not meet circulation standards.
In September 2020, the Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment asked the Hanoi authorities’ approval for cooperation with the Vietnam Motorcycle Manufacturer Association to implement the program to measure emissions and support the exchange of old motorcycles.
Accordingly, the city will select and install air quality measuring equipment for eight motorcycle repair and maintenance agents in the districts of Hoan Kiem, Cau Giay, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Ha Dong, and Thanh Xuan and select 30 motorbike dealers to pilot the program to exchange old motorbikes (manufactured before 2002), under different support mechanisms.
People who take their motorbikes to check emissions will receive gifts worth about 300,000 VND. If they want to change outdated motorbikes, they will receive 2 to 4 million VND.
This program has been carried out since July 2021 and will end in June 2022. It aims to measure emissions and then recall 3,000 - 5,000 old motorbikes of manufactured by Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Piaggio and SYM.
As many as 5,000 old vehicles will be put through emission tests by the end of next year as part of a campaign to improve air quality in the capital city.