With the rapid industrialisation and population growth in Vietnam, each year the country produces more than 15 million tonnes of waste. The lack of controlling and monitoring systems, of waste treatment technology and capital resources make the need for effective waste management solutions more important than ever.Managing waste todayOne of the country’s most popular waste disposal methods is incineration. However, handling the daily waste is becoming more and more of a problem as the technology of incineration plants is very basic and therefore insufficient. In spite of these plants being assessed by the government for technical standards and gas emissions, Vietnam still lacks the technology to analyse dioxin and other pollutant concentrations. Waste collectors are not sufficiently monitored or tracked, and their backyard facilities have adopted insufficient waste treatment methods. This poses a serious threat to people and the environment as ground and surface water is often contaminated from this untreated waste.Consequently, efficient waste management is one of the biggest social and environmental challenges. One proven alternative and possible solution on the way to a ‘zero waste society’ in Vietnam is the so-called ‘Co-processing’ technology with the help of which waste is converted into cement.How co-processing worksIn November 2005, the SEA team invited all the adidas footwear factories to visit the HOLCIM Co-processing plant in Rach Gia, a province in the south of the country, to introduce this technology to them. The co-processing technology uses waste materials as raw material, which lowers the quantities of other natural resources used, and also to recover energy. Co-processing means that waste is collected and checked, packed and shipped to the HOLCIM plant where it is shredded and then melted down in special kilns. The plant uses high-tech equipment, and waste co-processing takes place in a strictly controlled environment. The factories now know what happens to their non-recyclable wastes from footwear manufacturing, and materials can be traced throughout the production cycle.Benefits of co-processingThe process of using the waste in these cement kilns is seen as very environmentally sound, because:
Changing waste managementIn 2006, 622.3 tonnes (more then 34% of the entire volume of the participating factories’ waste) was used for co-processing, and so will be diverted from low-level incinerators or landfill, the most common waste management methods in Vietnam.In 2007, 711.1 tonnes of waste were co-processed. Further extension of the system was limited by a new approach taken by the local authorities, who authorised one specific waste collector to cover each region. So not all planned project partners could send their waste to HOLCIM. Nonetheless, the adidas Group is keen to promote sound waste management solutions and extend the programme to more adidas Group suppliers in the country. For the adidas Group in Vietnam, this remains a great opportunity to set a benchmark for waste management in our industry.Where our suppliers also make products for other brands, the team will reach out to them to join the existing co-processing system. Moving forward, we will also continue to promote this project to cover the Group’s apparel and accessories factories in Vietnam, either by joining the existing project, or by looking for similar approaches in other parts of the country.
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