Phu Quoc: Toward a Plastic Waste-Free Island
Long celebrated as the “Pearl Island” of Vietnam,
Phu Quoc in recent years faces a severe crisis: WASTE!
As 200 tons of waste is produced daily, the largest island in Vietnam finds itself inundated with overwhelming waste, especially plastic waste, and the consequences are overtly visible.
Visit any public beach that is not managed by a private resort, one can easily spot patches of plastic bags floating among the waves, remnants of styrofoam boxes, and plastic containers beached in the sand. Stand on Nguyen Trung Truc Bridge overlooking the Duong Dong River below, one can observe a stream of assorted waste dumped by locals, waste that will follow the river current heading out to sea. Driving to the north-west of the island one has to pass the infamous open landfill dump right by the road, this has unfortunately grown into a small hill and is now covered by a temporary fence to hide it from obvious view.
A landfill on Phu Quoc island © WWF Vietnam / Duong Quoc Binh
This waste situation is not only impacting the tourism business on the island but also damaging precious native marine ecosystems, including the local seagrass beds, which are essential habitat for blue swimmer crabs - a valuable main source of income for many fishermen communities on the island.
To help protect the native environment and address plastic waste issues, WWF-Viet Nam began the Phu Quoc - Toward a plastic waste-free island project. Sponsored by USAID and implemented by WWF-Viet Nam, this project is working with many different stakeholders such as the local government, schools, local communities and businesses who are expected to cooperate with each other within a public-private partnership platform to reduce single-use plastic, and move towards a plastic waste-free island.
A plastic waste polluted beach on Phu Quoc island © WWF Vietnam / Duong Quoc Binh
In engaging with the local government, the project is working with the District’s People Committee to commit the whole island to reduce single-use plastic. Over 60 teachers and school representatives from more than 30 schools have attended a two-day training on plastic waste and have begun adopting plastic-reducing practices into their schools’ policies. Two villages adjacent to the seagrass beds - Da Chong in Bai Thom commune and Bai Bon in Ham Ninh commune - are setting up a better waste management system where plastic waste is separated and better collected, reducing the chances of discharging waste directly into the ocean.
With technical support from WWF-Viet Nam, participating businesses are exploring ways to reduce single-use plastic in their daily operations. Effective practices like removing plastic straws, using refillable dispensers for shampoo, replacing plastic packaging, using glass bottles, separating waste etc. are being implemented by many businesses. WWF-Viet Nam hopes to facilitate a group of businesses committed to reduce single-use plastic products, in which members can advise one another and inspire interested businesses to join. WWF-Viet Nam will also connect this group to the local government, further advocating for collaboration among different stakeholders to tackle the plastic waste issue together.
Open dumpsite leaking waste into the environment of Phu Quoc island, Viet Nam. © WWF-Viet Nam
At the end of November 2019, 37 businesses in Phu Quoc had officially agreed to participate in the project. With the support from Visit Phu Quoc (visitphuquoc.info), WWF-Viet Nam hopes to map out these businesses, so that any tourist who wants to help the plastic-reducing cause can support these businesses and spread the word.
Please help our beautiful island, minimize your footprint by at least saying no to single-use plastic!
Banner Image source: WWF-Viet Nam