‘Trash for gifts’ encourages Hanoians to sort their garbage

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An URENCO worker helps a woman separate waste on Lê Thanh Nghị Street on September 12. — VNS Photos Khánh Dương

Khánh Dương

HÀ NỘI — Hanoians have been exchanging recyclable trash for gifts every Saturday morning at garbage collection points in four inner districts across the city since mid-August.

With trash separated into paper, plastic and metal and handed to trash collectors from the Hà Nội Urban Environment Company (URENCO), people can swap them for goods such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, hand sanitiser and bags.

The initiative was launched by URENCO to encourage locals to classify garbage at home, helping reduce the costs of garbage collection.

Phạm Thị Thanh Thủy, head of the marketing and communications department at URENCO’s Hai Bà Trưng District branch, said they launched the campaign on a trial basis on August 15 in Hoàn Kiếm District and set up more exchange locations in Hai Bà Trưng, Đống Đa and Ba Đình districts on September 5.

The company planned to set up new collection points each week and spread the word in four inner districts. The campaign would continue with the support of Unilever Vietnam, she said.

At each location, different waste baskets specifically designed for paper, plastic and metal have been set up to make people more aware of classifying garbage at source and at home.

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Waste is classified into three categories at the garbage collection locations.

Nguyễn Văn Toàn, director of URENCO’s Ba Đình District branch, said the collection points were open every Saturday because people were usually busy during the week.

Nguyễn Thị Hiếu, who sells food and drinks at a school canteen on Lê Thanh Nghị Street, Hai Bà Trưng District, exchanged 17kg of cardboard boxes, foam and plastics for shampoo and bags on September 12.

“Before I used to throw away or sold packaging from food and drinks to trash collectors for money.

“The trash-for-gift point is located right opposite the school where I work. I will continue to exchange trash for the things I need,” she told Việt Nam News.

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An URENCO worker presents gifts to a woman in exchange for recyclable waste.

Nguyễn Ngọc Phương Lan from Hai Bà Trưng District said: “Today I sorted my waste at home and brought boxes to exchange for shampoo and toothpaste. This project is helping raise public awareness about classifying waste at source, and I will tell my neighbours about it.”

More than 3.4 tonnes of waste was collected at seven exchange points on September 5, in exchange for 800 gifts.

According to URENCO’s Hai Bà Trưng District branch, the sites at Vân Đồn and Lê Thanh Nghị welcomed more than 120 people and 1.3 tonnes of waste.

The sorted garbage collected at these venues was transported to different dumps in the city and recycled.

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Recyclable waste after being sorted is transported to waste dumps in the city for treatment.

It is estimated that each day Hanoians discharge from 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes of waste, including 80 tonnes of plastic waste, not to mention other types of trash such as metal and paper that can be recycled.

According to a representative of URENCO, the Nam Sơn Waste Treatment Complex, the biggest waste dump in the city, is able to treat 5,000 tonnes of waste per day but would soon run out of capacity. Burning trash is the alternative treatment method, posing a high risk of pollution.

“Domestic and recyclable garbage is often mixed together, putting a burden on the waste treatment process, and we have run out of space at the dumps. If we sort out the waste at home, we can reuse recyclable waste and only need to treat non-recyclable waste at the waste dumps,” Thủy said.

By doing this way, we can reduce pollution and save the waste dumps from being overloaded while waiting for a waste treatment factory to be completed next year, she said.

App-based waste classification

According to Thủy, many people were not aware about sorting their garbage at home. Company staff who collected trash or visited households to collect monthly waste fees have told people about the importance of waste classification at source, and broadcasts have been made on public radio. To change people’s habits, we needed long-term plans to target housewives, domestic helpers and business households, she said.

Waste classification was much easier now because people could sort it at home and schedule pick-ups on an app developed by mGreen Company in partnership with URENCO, she said.

“We hope that when more people download the app, they won't have to go to exchange sites and instead contact us to get their trash picked up from their homes. The classified waste they give us will be exchanged for points on the app and vouchers or necessities.”

People can bring their recyclable trash to exchange for gifts from 7-11am every Saturday at 282 Kim Mã Street, Ba Đình District; 59C Hoàng Cầu, Đống Đa District; Vân Đồn Power Transmission Station near the old Lương Yên Coach Station; and No 37 Lê Thanh Nghị, next to headquarters of Bách Khoa Ward People’s Committee, in Hai Bà Trưng District.

Four locations in Hoàn Kiếm District are 8 Phan Huy Chú Street, 27 Lý Thái Tổ, 44 Hàng Nón and Cửa Đông Street.

— VNS

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