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How can Vietnam turn e-waste into commodities?

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Vietnam has been unable to recycle or treat e-waste because of difficulties in e-waste collection, according to some experts.

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Dr Nguyen Duc Quang from the Hanoi University of Science & Technology, however, disagrees with the opinion that Vietnam doesn’t have suitable technologies or the money to import modern technologies to recycle e-waste.

“The use of recycling technology is not a difficulty for Vietnam. The problem lies in the lack of input materials. All technologies, no matter how advanced, will be worthless without input materials,” he said. 

Dang Thi Kim Chi from VACNE (Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment) said households sell electronic devices after years of use. Recycling companies cannot collect e-waste, however, because the selling prices are relatively high. 

Meanwhile, they still have to fulfill the obligations of manufacturers, have to pay tax and run environmental protection systems. As the costs are high, they don’t think it deserves investment.

Quang noted that the collection of e-waste is mostly done by individual scrap dealers, device repairmen and waste treatment companies. 

After the waste devices are collected, they are dismantled at large centers such as Trang Minh (Hai Phong City), Bui Dau and Phan Boi (Hung Yen) and Te Lo (Vinh Phuc), or at privately run shops.

With such a e-waste collection network, it is difficult for the state to control e-waste flow and e-waste sources are not concentrated. 

“Investors won’t spend money to import advanced technologies if the input materials are unstable,” Quang said.

“If the input materials are stable, investors will be willing to invest in high technologies and set up factories to exploit e-waste,” he added.

Dao Duc Khanh, director of Urenco 10, an environment service provider, said most of the old air conditioners and TVs that the company receives don’t have metals which can be dismantled easily and have high value because the metals are taken away by suppliers. 

“There are only circuit boards and components and one must use high technologies to take metals from them,” Khanh said. “So it will not be unprofitable to invest in high technology.”

“We will only make investments if we can access original e-waste,” he said. 

Quang from the Hanoi University of Science & Technology believes that Vietnam needs to set up a legal framework to control e-waste and collect valuable materials from the waste. The state and associations, not private dealers, must control and observe the e-waste flow.

“At present, intermediaries, or those who dismantle e-waste, receive the biggest economic benefits. But they only dismantle devices for sale, not treat devices,” he said.

 

Source: VietNamNet

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