Dec 5, 2012

Vietnam - What businesses strive for green and clean products, or profits?

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VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese businesses, which have a small production scale and earn modest money, are not ready to spend money on advanced technologies which allow to make clean products.

The optimal goal of Vietnamese enterprises, 90 percent of which are small and medium ones with scanty money, is to fulfill the business plan. They nearly do not have the budgets to spend to renovate equipment and apply clean technologies in the production.

However, the government of Vietnam has set up a relatively high goal for the green industry development.

Under the plan, Vietnam would have the total value of hi-tech and green-tech products accounting for 42-45 percent of GDP (gross domestic products). Especially, it strives to have 80 percent of production workshops meeting the environmental standards and 50 percent applying clean technologies in the production process.

While Vietnam sets a very high goal, it is now at a very low starting point. According to Nguyen Dinh Hiep, Deputy Director of the Science and Technology Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the energy efficiency of the Vietnamese production remains very low.

In coal run thermopower plants, for example, the efficiency is measured at 28-32 percent, or 10 percent lower than that in other countries. The performance of industrial boilers is 60 percent, or 20 percent lower than the world’s average level.

In order to make one ton of steel from iron, Vietnamese steel mills needs 13 million Kcal, which is triple the average level in the world. If compared with Thailand and Malaysia, the energy use in industries in Vietnam is 1.5-1.7 times higher.

A question has been raised that if Vietnamese enterprises would be brave enough to sacrifice the profits for environment friendly products, and if they would spend money to utilize advanced technologies to protect the environment.

According to the Industrial Policy Institute, an arm of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, to date, Vietnam has had only three products granted green labels, namely Tide detergent of Proter & Gamble, compact lamps straight tube fluorescent lamps of the Dien Quang Lamp Company.

Meanwhile, South Korea has up to 9000 products labeled as green products.

Experts say one of the biggest obstacles that may hinder the implementation of the green industry development strategy is the lack of a perfect legal framework on the environment protection.

Though the legal documents have been amended many times, they still cannot ensure the tight enforcement of the laws. Meanwhile, the punishments stipulated in the laws cannot deter violators.

Most importantly, businesses still have not got ready to change their thoughts from optimizing profits to increasing investments and reducing profits to green the production process, even though they understand this is the right way for sustainable development.

Manuel Albaladejo from UNIDO has noted that the efforts to implement policies by the government of Vietnam usually target big enterprises, while they should have targeted small and medium enterprises, because the enterprises are the main factors that cause the environment pollution.

Pham Hoang Mai, Director of the Science, Education, Natural Resources and the Environment Department of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, believes that the green economy development plan should be implemented on the basis of financial encouragement policies. Vietnam should restrict the economic branches which may cause big wastes, while it should give financial support to new green industries.


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