According to the Law on Protection of the Environment, any establishment that produces solid, liquid, or gaseous "waste" must ensure that such waste is treated prior to being disposed of, and that the disposal process conforms to environmental standards.
The law states, vaguely, that toxic wastes must be disposed of in dumps other than those used for "normal" refuse. However, there is no national, provincial, or local system for effectively disposing of hazardous wastes. Some industrial zones have designated certain disposal facilities for solid waste, but these do not identify the wastes,nor do they have proper coverage or containment facilities for holding hazardous wastes.
In general, there is little detailed knowledge of the amount or kind of hazardous wastes produced in Vietnam. According to an Asian Development Bank report prepared for the Ho Chi Minh City Environmental Improvement project, Vietnam has no existing database that details levels of hazardous waste production and disposal.
Medical waste is one area of hazardous waste disposal where the government and overseas donors have focused their attention. The Ministry of Health estimates that 240 tons of medical waste are dumped daily throughout the country. Furthermore, only 10 percent of Vietnam's hospitals have adequate disposal equipment. At present, up to 90 percent of the hospitals nationwide do not have a wastewater treatment system. All wastewater - some of which contains toxic pollutants and bacteria - are discharged directly into the environment.
Hanoi has 36 hospitals, which together discharge between 11 and 20 tons of solid waste per day. Hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City are estimated to dump 50 tons of garbage and 6.5 tons of medical waste daily. Much of this waste goes untreated or is treated improperly before it is disposed. The ratio of "dangerous waste" in hospital garbage collected by Hanoi's Urban Environment Co. is believed to be between 12 and 25 percent. Some hospitals use old furnaces to dispose of medical waste, spreading air pollution into the vicinity of the hospitals. Others dump wastewater into old reservoirs, contaminating the ground water.
Market Opportunities and Competitive Situation
As part of the Ho Chi Minh City Environmental Improvement project, the Asian Development Bank will undertake a detailed master plan for managing toxic wastes in regions surrounding Ho Chi Minh City - the most heavily industrialized part of Vietnam. The study will focus on toxic waste production in Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Binh Duong province.
The master plan will be used both to identify leading toxic pollution sources and to begin design of a hazardous waste disposal facility for the region. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) has expressed interest in financing the master plan and studies associated with building the disposal facility.
The Vietnamese government has allocated some funds to remedy the medical waste problem. For the period August 1999 to August 2000, the government allocated 5 billion dong ($1.03 million) from the state budget to improve waste treatment facilities at hospitals. Thirty hospitals were supposed to have received funds for improvements, but because of a lack of funds, only 10 hospitals will be selected. According to Nguyen Minh Tuan of the Ministry of Health, these hospitals have yet to be selected.
While the Ministry of Health has garnered some funds, the largest opportunities in medical-waste disposal remain with bilateral aid-funded projects. In November 1999, the Austrian government penned an agreement to provide $5.3 million in financing for installation of medical-waste furnaces at 25 provincial hospitals. Austrian firm Vamed Engineering Co. is reported to be the lead supplier for the project. Vamed has proposed installing furnaces with a capacity of 1,400 kilograms of waste per day at an average cost of $0.06 per kilogram.
Belgian development aid is financing construction of an incinerator in Ho Chi Minh City to dispose of medical waste. The Urban Environment Company in Ho Chi Minh City is now building a plant in Binh Chanh district. Belgian aid is financing $1.5 million of the $1.9 million project. The incinerator will be capable of treating seven to eight tons of waste per day.