Ha Long Bay Management Board has made an agreement with 15 service providers to pilot a ban on plastic products on tourist boats starting from August 1.
Collecting rubbish in Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay has been filled up with rubbish. Quang Ninh Park Construction JSC and Phuc Thanh Company are responsible for collecting the rubbish floating around Ha Long Bay and they collected over six tonnes of rubbish each day but the bay is littered again very quickly. The floating rubbish is mostly foam boxes, plastic bags, and bottles.
In order to preserve the environment, all agencies need to work together but first, they have to start with the service providers. Pham Dinh Huynh, deputy head of the management board, said 15 providers of tourist boats, kayak and high-speed boats have agreed to stop using plastic bags and bottles from August 1.
"Previously 5,000 bottles and 5,000 wet napkins were given to tourists each day. Now we can end a source of pollution," he said.
The small plastic bottles will be replaced with large water bottles and tourists will be given a cup made from environmentally-friendly materials. The providers will start saying no to plastic products to better protect Ha Long Bay.
According to Huynh, they will continue calling for other providers to ban the use of plastic bottles and bags.
"It must be done step by step. The number of day boats and the use of plastic products are much higher so it will be difficult to ban," he said.
Tourism firms play rising role in stemming ocean plastic
Tourism companies, who are benefiting enormously from the environmental values, should take further actions to stem the flow of plastic waste into the ocean, heard a workshop held in the northern port city of Hai Phong on July 25.
Reports at the event said among the 400 million tonnes of plastics produced, 8 million tonnes end up in the ocean each year. In Vietnam, if 10 percent of the plastic garbage is not recycled, the country could directly discharge 2.5 million tonnes of plastic litter into the environment, and experts said a huge amount of plastic has been dumped by the tourism sector.
Participants at the workshop, jointly held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association (VUSTA), and the People’s Committee of Cat Hai district, shared their good practices in reducing single-use plastics, helping raise awareness of local firms of ocean plastic waste.
Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee in Cat Hai district Hoang Trung Cuong said the locality is building an action plan to reduce the volume of plastic garbage, striving to say no to single-use plastic products during 2019-2020 and cut at least 50 percent of plastic waste in the district by 2020.
Under the plan, the district targets all of the state agencies limit single-use plastics, and at least 70 percent of the tourism service providers pledge to use environmentally-friendly products.
In the coming time, the district will ask restaurants, hotels and tourist boats to reduce the consumption of hard-to-decompose plastic bags, and proactively respond to the anti-plastic waste campaign.
Nguyen Thi Bich Hien, a representative from the IUCN, suggested businesses have an overall assessment on their plastic waste management; pen short-, mid- and long-term targets on slashing plastic waste; and use naturally-originated products.
Sharing Sea Pearl Hotel’s experience, General Director of the hotel Nguyen Quyet Thang said his facility has blazed the trail on reducing ocean plastics by replacing single-use products with those from the nature like bamboo straws and cups in the past two years. Besides, he has ordered the suppliers to reduce plastic wrapping and asked his staff to classify daily waste.
However, Thang also pointed out that many customers still prefer plastic products due to their convenience while the market is not able to supply several goods.
Ha Long Bay managers are trying to deal with the huge amount of rubbish dumped at sea.
Caves in the World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay are struggling with too many tourists, posing pressures on the site.