According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Vietnam emits a large amount of plastic equivalent to 1.8 million tons per year; based on the statistics from the United Nations, Vietnam is fourth among the top countries producing the largest amount of plastic waste in Asia. Given such an alarming situation, the control and reduction of plastic waste have become top concerns for Coca-Cola when implementing sustainable development strategies in Vietnam. Thus, on September 11, 2019, Coca-Cola was one of the 9 founding members of the Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam (PRO Vietnam) which signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) pledging the shared objective, vision and responsibilities in driving the circular economy in Vietnam through activities in reducing, segregating, collecting, and recycling waste.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Mr. Tran Hong Ha said: “I highly appreciate the consciousness and proactiveness of the PRO Vietnam’s members in sharing their responsibilities with the Ministry to address the waste problems in Vietnam, especially plastic waste from the packaging industry. Obviously, businesses are not only a part of the problem but also an important part of the solution. I expect the pioneering role of the PRO Vietnam’s members can inspire more and more businesses to be part of the movement and take responsible actions for the environment and the country so we can all together develop sustainably”.
In its 25 years of operation in Vietnam, Coca-Cola has been actively investing in sustainability initiatives. These include the “World Without Waste” campaign launched in 2018, with the commitment to collect and recycle the equivalent 100% of every bottle or can it sells globally by 2030. In parallel with this mission and looking towards the vision "For a Green, Clean, and Beautiful Vietnam" of PRO Vietnam, as well as the environmental protection and nature resources conservation plans of MONRE to achieve Vietnam’s sustainable development, the signing ceremony is another milestone marking Coca-Cola's continuous cooperation and efforts to promote practical action programs in minimizing plastic waste and establishing a circular economy in Vietnam.
A study by Accenture Strategy indicates that the circular economic model could open up market opportunities worth up to US $ 4,500 billion and create millions of jobs for the global economy by 2030. This model is the key to the development of the Vietnamese economy and has been widely applied in large corporations; however, it is still not popular in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Therefore, in the future, PRO Vietnam in general and Coca-Cola particularly will coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to communicate and raise public awareness about reducing, sorting, collecting, and recycling waste, and about circular economy.
“In carrying out the mission to drive the circular economy in Vietnam, and make packaging recycling more accessible and sustainable, PRO Vietnam’s ambition is that by 2030, all packaging sold by our members into the market will be collected for recycling. Our focus will be building and developing a packaging collection system based on partnerships with local authorities and stakeholders in the industry to drive recycling through the activities of education, collection, recycling, and especially collaboration with governmental bodies in line with our role as corporate citizens,” said Mr. Pham Phu Ngoc Trai, Chairman of PRO Vietnam.
To accomplish this mission, Coca-Cola and all the members of PRO Vietnam are committed to specific actions including promoting and supporting activities aimed at minimizing and segregating wastes from the source and fostering the capacity and efficiency of the waste collection, transportation, treatment and recycling system. At the same time, Coca-Cola will also enhance the responsibility of manufacturers, brand owners, distributors, retailers of modern and traditional trade, and importers of products in the post-consumption waste management and recycling stage, contributing to the formulation of a recycling industry and support of eco-friendly and recyclable products.
In addition to the activities within the framework of the partnership between PRO Vietnam and the MONRE, Coca-Cola will also bring about many positive changes through the "World Without Waste" project, with the chain of ongoing events such as the “Zero Waste to Nature” program in collaboration with VCCI, VBCSD, Unilever & Dow; accompanying UNESCO in the initiative “Fostering Creativity For Recycling Awareness”; partnership with Greenhub for the Plastic Action Network; jointly implementing educational programs at local Ekocenter with the British Council; and research on applying rPet recycled plastic bottles into Dasani drinking water products, etc.
Moreover, Coca-Cola is also committed to other environmental and social responsibility activities within the sustainable development strategy, serving the purpose of moving towards the circular economy during Industry 4.0. For more than 10 years, the company has been and will continue investing in key projects, such as operating the factory model to minimize energy consumption; biodiversity conservation in Tram Chim National Park; water treatment and provision of over 2 billion liters of clean water to 70,000 people in cities and provinces across the country; empowering over 12,000 women; and strengthening the capabilities of 850 representatives of SMEs in Vietnam.
Mr. Hiroshi Kanazawa, Country Manager and Chief Representative of Vietnam and Cambodia said: “As a total beverage company, Coca-Cola will continuously support and facilitate the implementation of the circular economy in Vietnam across the entire value chain. We realize this by fostering the growth of the supply chain and partners, interacting with consumers to increase public awareness and shaping new habits of responsible waste management in the society.”