The chemicals industry in Việt Nam has been facing a number of environmental and social challenges, which require new pathways in development, production, and consumption to ensure sustainable development.
Chemicals industrial manufacturers have been urged to raise awareness and initiatives for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) related to green chemistry (GC).
It resulted from the ‘Green Chemistry (GC) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ workshop that was recently co-organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Việt Nam Chemicals Agency of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) together with the Northern Việt Nam Paint and Printing Ink Club.
Research shows that waste prevention is better and costs less than the treatment or disposal of waste after it has been created. The more waste companies generate the more costs they have to bear to deal with the environmental, social, and community health consequences.
Using a GC approach in production and business also sees companies take on more social responsibility.
CSR can be shown in ensuring a safe working environment and equity for women and men on all levels as well as promoting working opportunities with privacy and safety for employees.
It needs to provide high-quality products made from safe, non-toxic materials at a reasonable price, and conduct research and product development to commercialise innovative and useful products.
Head of the Climate Change and Environment Unit at UNDP Việt Nam, Đào Xuân Lai said: “Green chemistry is an inevitable trend being promoted on a global scale, which helps us to avoid past mistakes such as the invention and use of DDT or the production and use of chemicals containing dioxin, mercury, CFCs, and the like.”
“As Việt Nam integrates quickly with the market, and with the regional and global economy via bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, corporations and enterprises need to use the GC approach so that they and their products are better equipped when joining global supply chains.
“This benefits their long-term development and growth, and at the same time ensures sustainable development for Việt Nam and reduces the stress on our planet.”
Within the framework of the GC project, funded by UNDP and MOIT, initial solutions are being implemented with Vietnamese enterprises, including pilots with Plato Việt Nam JSC (electroplating) and Nishu Paint Việt Nam to reduce 3,472kg of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and 923 cubic metres of carbon emission per year.
The workshop also aimed to collect comments on the need for training to raise awareness and the application of green chemistry in paint and printing enterprises, as well as share some current situations, solutions, technology, and practices on waste treatment in small and medium-sized paint enterprises.
“For consumers to have access to green products, we need green materials, green manufacturing, and green construction,” said Đặng Anh Tú, CEO of Nishu Paint Việt Nam, one of the two enterprises performing the GC demonstration activities.
“When, and only when, we are aware that green chemistry helps us to protect our health can we produce sustainable green products.”
Tú said that by applying green chemistry, Nishu has saved considerable costs: in particular, the highest monthly electricity bill that this enterprise has ever paid has not exceeded VNĐ50 million (US$2,100).
According to Chu Văn Nguyên, vice president of the Việt Nam Responsible Care Council (VRCC) of Chemical Enterprises, the implementation of CSR activities requires many efforts and the voluntary commitment of the leaders and employees of the company, as well as support from other enterprises in the industry. These voluntary CSR activities bring companies not only profits, but also trust from the market and the community.
The workshop was one of the activities under the project ‘Application of green chemistry in Việt Nam to support green growth and reduction in the use and release of POPs/harmful chemicals’, supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNDP.
The main objective of the project is to create a favourable environment for introducing GC and GC application to the production industry in Việt Nam and reduce the use and release of chemicals controlled under the Stockholm and Minamata Conventions.