Vietnam takes first steps to mitigate ocean plastic waste

Scientific research in the environment field, especially micro-plastics research, is still in its infancy.

Professor Pham Hung Viet, director of the Center for Environmental Technology and Sustainable Development (CETASD), an arm of the Hanoi National University, says that ocean plastic waste pollution is a new topic in the field of environment.

Vietnam takes first steps to mitigate ocean plastic waste

Scientists at CETASD

Research articles have begun appearing more frequently in international journals, offering a great opportunity for Vietnam to carry out research in the field with others, Viet said.

Research started in Vietnam with the sixth conference of GEF (Global Environment Fund) in May 2018 and a workshop about the national action plan on ocean plastic waste management.

In general, researchers can more easily seek financial support for their projects if the topics are of public concern. CETASD’s scientists have high hopes for their plans.

Research started in Vietnam with the sixth conference of GEF (Global Environment Fund) in May 2018 and a workshop about the national action plan on ocean plastic waste management.

“We have proposed a research topic on the nature of disposition, and physical and chemical properties, of micro-plastics and absorption and exposure of POPs on micro-plastic surfaces in the conditions of Vietnam’s coastal environment. This aims to find the origin of micro-plastics, assess the effects of micro-plastics on water ecosystems, and identify toxic organic substances on micro-plastics,” he said.

The research aims to give advice on policies to management agencies.

Viet said after fulfilling the research project, he will have a foundation to suggest technological and managerial solutions to the Ministries of Science & Technology (MST), and Natural Resources & the Environment (MONRE).

 

Only a few laboratories in Vietnam such as CETASD and Dioxin Laboratory of the Environment General Directorate can implement this.

The laboratories have specialized equipment for implementing research projects on POPs - persistent organic compounds that pollute the environment, and harm human health. These include plant protection chemicals, PCB additives in insulators, Agent Orange, PBDPP and PBDE, substances used for smartphones, TVs, and computer covers.

Hung, who has 20 years of experience in researching POPs, believes that in order to be capable to conduct research on burning issues, researchers need to have new analysis technologies.

The research on micro-plastics and ocean plastic waste is still in an early stage and the suggested topic by CETASD is just one of many approaches.

The Marine and Island Research Institute, in cooperation with other organizations including the Vietnam Academy of Science & Technology, Hanoi National University and local environment departments, have kicked off a project on surveying and assessing the ocean plastic waste situation in Vietnam, and will recommend solutions.

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