Coca Cola, Nestle and Suntory and six other consumer goods and packaging companies have joined together to create the Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam (PRO Vietnam) which wants to promote the growth of a domestic packaging collection and recycling ecosystem in Vietnam.
By joining together in their efforts, the companies believe that they can help Vietnam to be a beautiful country that is clean and green and that recycling can be an important component of a plastic packaging circular economy that recycles plastic into new products that can be used multiple times.
The nine founding members of PRO Vietnam are: Coca-Cola, FrieslandCampina, La Vie, Nestlé, NutiFood, Suntory PepsiCo, Tetra Pak, TH Group, and URC. The new coalition marks the first time that these competing companies are collaborating to collectively work on improving the environment.
Among the goals of PRO Vietnam:
1. Educate consumers on recycling awareness and segregation and focus on the “3Rs” that are reduction, recycle and reuse.
2. Work with the Vietnamese government in recycling plastic waste.
3. Strengthen and then expand the existing packaging collection eco-system.
4. Support recycling programs of processors and recyclers.
5. Coordinating with research institutions to find the best solutions for the environment.
6. Improve livelihoods and create jobs for individuals and businesses working on post-consumer packaging through its voluntary public-private partnership.
Plastic pollution in Vietnam’s Mekong river waterways
Pham Phu Ngoc Trai, the Chairman of PRO Vietnam said that the founding members of PRO Vietnam are united in their mission and that, “PRO Vietnam’s ambition is that by 2030 all packaging materials put into the market by its members is collected for recycling.”
Vietnam is considered one of the top five countries in the world that contribute to plastic trash in the oceans and the country has been criticized for this by both international and domestic organizations. In response, the government has been researching and holding discussions on how it could eliminate single-use plastics, on a nationwide basis by 2025.
Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the Prime Minister of Vietnam said on Friday that he commended the establishment of PRO Vietnam by the founding members and he expressed his hope that the new organization can work together with the government quickly and effectively to carry out its goals and to Vietnam to cut down on single-use plastic products and minimize plastic pollution.
The creation of PRO Vietnam is the latest in a string of partnerships among global plastics and consumer goods companies that have been formed in 2019. A report by Greenpeace last year found Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle to be the world’s biggest producers of plastic trash, although all three companies have made recycling pledges.
Suntory, one of Japan’s leading beverage companies that makes whisky as well as soft drinks, said that by 2030 it will switch from pure petroleum-based plastic bottles in all markets to bottles made by recycled or plant-based materials, but that this will cost the company an estimated $470 million USD.
Takeshi Niinami, the CEO of Suntory said that the company’s goal is particularly challenging in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, since many countries lacks sophisticated systems for collecting, sorting and treating used plastic.
Niinami said that the company sees no viable alternative yet to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and he fears that governments in Southeast Asia might take simplistic actions, such as drastic restrictions on the use of plastic bottles, rather than working with groups like PRO Vietnam on recycling.