Tuyet Vu’s sustainability journey began as a university student on exchange in the United Kingdom.
On a budget, she noticed her local supermarket incentivised shoppers who brought their own, reusable bags with points which could go towards reducing their bill.
While originally motivated by cost savings, this quickly became an obsession. And when Tuyet returned to her home in Vietnam she was determined to learn more about the plastic waste crisis and how she could reduce her reliance on single-use items.
The increased use of plastics in Vietnam has accompanied rapid economic growth and urbanisation over the last decade. While some recycling efforts exist, the mismanagement of waste is visibly polluting cities and waterways, contributing to biodiversity loss and climate change.
According to the World Bank, Vietnam is among the top five nations contributing to ocean plastics.
“My ultimate goal is to find a way to deal with plastic waste, starting with my own family and then broadening the network to my local community, and the office where I work,” Tuyet says.
An estimated 3.1 million metric tons of plastic waste is discharged on land in Vietnam every year and at least 10 percent of it goes into the ocean. Most is single-use, low-value items such as plastic bags, food containers and straws.
The Vietnam National Plastics Action Partnership says the amount of plastic in waterways could more than double by 2030 if the country’s current waste collection, recycling and treatment processes are not improved.