Recycling in Hanoi

Informal Recycling?

If you’re lucky enough to be able to recycle your plastic where you are, I have to say that we’re pretty darn jealous.  Let’s just say that generally speaking, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to recycle much in Hanoi. There are some pretty informal ways of recycling, which is wicked, but there’s not so much organised recycling that goes on.  This means that only about 10% of the waste that gets chucked is actually recycled.  In this post, we’re gunna look at the ingenious and entrepreneurial ways that people do their recycling in Vietnam.  

Recycling Villages

In Vietnam, people are pretty good at spotting a good business opportunity.  If someone can see a way of making money, they’ll go for it and this extends even into recycling.  In the north of Vietnam, there are a few specially designated recycling villages. By this, I don’t mean that the government has told them to become recycling centres.   They just became that way because they saw an opportunity, pretty great if you ask me. Duong O and Bac Ninh are big on recycling paper, and Hung Yen is a big plastic recycler.

Recycling Networks

You might be wondering where they get all the stuff that they recycle.  Well, the people in these villages have set up their own networks. These refuse collectors around the big cities go around picking recyclable things up.   Then the buyers in the villages get the waste from these guys. Once they’ve got the waste, they recycle it themselves. They use a mix of traditional methods and modern technology.  We’ve gotta say that the idea here is great. Can you imagine if whole villages in England set about becoming their own recycling centres? Us neither.

The Problems

The only problem with this style of recycling is that it can cause a lot of pollution as well.  Burning the plastic to recycle it is pretty nasty and sadly a lot of the folks in Hung Yen suffer from lung problems.  It’s also controlled by those pesky market forces.  If one type of plastic isn’t gunna be recycled into something sellable, it’ll get chucked.  It’s great that people are enterprising enough to be setting things like this up on their own.   However, it’d probably be better if there was some state control. Just like always, the best thing to be would be a perfect balance struck between these two.  Combining the formal style of recycling like we’re used to and the wicked, enterprising, personal style like we have in Vietnam would be wicked.