Vietnam Material Recovery Facility Initiative

Part 2 – From the “Material Recovery Facility” initiative to the “Center for Development of Community Initiative and Environment” in Cu Lao Cham.

Nguyen Thi My Quynh (WWF-Vietnam), Huynh Thi Thuy Huong, (Management Board of Cu Lao Cham Marine Protected Area).

The Material Recovery Facility in Cu Lao Cham is a pilot model of community-based solid waste classification, recovery and recycling; it started on a small scale with 30 households on April 01, 2021, and increased to 120 households from December 2022.

After nearly two years of operation, most of the classification, collection and treatment stages have been carried out according to the correct process and achieved some positive results. In particular, recycling organic waste into compost has brought practical value in waste treatment, helping to reduce pressure on the landfill at Eo Gio, which is now running out of space.

Invest in upgrading to increase the efficiency of waste treatment at the Bai Ong MRF facility.

From practical operating experience, MRF Bai Ong’s operation team found that the manual organic waste treatment method produced unevenly finished products and resulted in a low resource recovery rate (5-10%). Since then, the ‘Mitigating Marine Plastic Debris in Vietnam’ Project, led and implemented by the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands and coordinated with WWF-Vietnam (Project), has supported the investment and installation of a waste crusher-shredder with a maximum capacity of 1 ton/hour from the end of 2022. Thereby helping to improve the quality of input materials for the organic fertilizer production process and, at the same time, increasing treatment productivity to meet the requirements after the expansion of the whole village with about 200 participating households in 2023. 

For the production process of multi-purpose detergent, the operation team and the community participated in training sessions on production processes and techniques to improve the quality of finished products, aiming to increase the collection of fruit peels in refreshment stalls and markets to increase the production capacity of cleaners. In addition to upgrading finished products with standard quality, in 2023, the Project will support the community to invest in some machines, such as stirring equipment and pH alkalinity meter, and support the cost of quality control to standardise the production process. After the product is tested, launching programs is expected to introduce the product widely to reach more people, aiming to sell this product on the island through the Cu Lao Cham Plastic-Reducing Store model.

The second MRF facility was born and put into operation from 2023

Recognising the positive results of the MRF model in promoting the classification and recycling of garbage in the community, contributing to reducing the burden of waste treatment, the authorities of Tan Hiep commune cooperated with the Management Board of Cu Lao Cham Marine Protected Area, installed a new MRF with support from the Project to treat waste on-site for the community of Bai Huong village, a remote community far from the administrative centre of Tan Hiep commune.

MRF Bai Huong facility was built in November 2022 on an area of 32m2 in Bai Huong village and officially put into operation at the Launching Ceremony chaired by Tan Hiep Commune People’s Committee in collaboration with the Management Board of Cu Lao Cham Marine Protected Area and Cu Lao Cham Public Service Team held on February 07, 2023.

Similar to the MRF Bai Ong, the facility in Bai Huong will be managed by two local workers in charge of collecting and treating domestic waste from 81 households in Bai Huong village. With a continuous collection frequency of 07 days/week in February and 06 days/week in March, the monitoring results during the first month of operation showed that the total collection volume at Bai Huong MRF is: 1,716.2 kg of waste, of which organic waste accounts for 47.5% with 815.5kg; Inorganic waste accounted for 51.5% with more than 883.5kg and about 17.2 kg of recyclable waste, accounted for 1%. After collection, garbage will be reclassified, inorganic waste will be gathered and transferred to Eo Gio landfill, and organic waste will be classified to make organic fertilizer. As a result, Bai Huong MRF has reduced 09 trips of garbage transport from Bai Huong to Eo Gio landfill in one month.

MRF Model Bai Huong (Photo: WWF-Viet Nam)

From “Waste-to-resources facility” to “Environmental education and learning centre.”

The MRFs were initially built to improve the classification, collection and recycling rate of domestic solid waste in Cu Lao Cham, gradually recycling and recirculating the waste into valuable products, at the same time contributing to reducing the pressure of domestic solid waste treatment at Eo Gio landfill, which is currently overloaded. The initial successes from the pilot implementation and replication of the MRF model are proof of the potential contribution and positive effect of the community-based solid waste management solution on the separate area with the ability to reduce and recycle nearly 50% of the waste generated by the community. 

The MRF model has inspired locals to actively participate, master and operate the model and actively contribute to improving the efficiency of local domestic solid waste treatment. As a state management unit, Tan Hiep commune government has shown its efforts to successfully implement community-based management methods to improve domestic solid waste management efficiency. Not only feasible and effective technical solutions, but the MRF model in Cu Lao Cham has also confirmed its pervasiveness, contributing to changing local community behaviour and other localities interested in the model.

Local authorities are showing efforts to implement effective management measures towards building Cu Lao Cham to become a “Waste Free Island” and a “Green Destination – Sustainable Tourism” of Hoi An in particular and Vietnam in general. In the coming time, the project “Improving the operation process of the domestic solid waste treatment facility in Eo Gio” is expected to be implemented to turn the landfill into a community education centre. In this place, people can share and learn about environmental protection and become a destination in the “Zero Waste Tour” piloted in 2023.

Read part 1 here.

This article was based on this original article in Vietnamese.

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