Survey found smaller enterprises cause bigger environment pollution
  • | VietNamNet | October 15, 2011 08:37 PM

The 500,000 operational small and medium enterprises (SMEs) cause a huge volume of waste every day; and how to settle the pollution is really a big headache for policy makers.

Discharging waste spontaneously to cut down expenses

In Vietnam, SMEs account for 90 percent of total enterprises. And according to the General Statistics Office (GSO), every year, about 90 percent of the total employed laborers are used at SMEs. The increases in terms of quality and scale have brought about the increases in used natural resources, and the environmental dangers.

Le Minh Duc from the Industrial Strategies and Polices Institute under the Ministry of Industry and Trade has noted that SMEs seem to more violate the environmental protection regulations than bigger enterprises.

Explaining the conclusion, Duc said that due to the limited financial capability, SMEs cannot spend much money on sanitary equipments and waste treatment systems. Moreover, SMEs are usually located in the inner city and in residential quarters, which makes it more difficult to treat waste.

Experts also believe that another reason behind the enterprises’ indifference to the environment protection is the 2005 Environment Protection Law with the provisions which are not suitable to the current conditions any more.

Footwear and garment are believed to be the two industries which most cause serious environment pollution with their production. The two industries use many toxic chemical substances and substances containing heavy and persistent metals. If local authorities do not keep strict management over the waste treatment, this will certainly cause serious air and water sources pollution.

Besides SMEs and industrial zones, craft villages have also been considered the big environment polluters. Most of the traditional craft villages no more keep the traditional production mechanism, while they have shifted to industrial production scale.

However, SMEs themselves admitted that when materials are getting more and more expensive, how to use resources in the most effective way has become a really important task for them.

When enterprises think that waste is an inevitable part of the production process and do not try to treat the waste, this means that they miss the opportunities to minimize the costs. And if they change the way of thinking, they can create smart products and solutions which allow to improve the competitiveness of enterprises.

Managing SME’s waste – how?

International experts, who attended the forum on waste management and challenges to SMEs held recently, all said that the majority of Vietnamese enterprises do not take initiative in fulfilling social responsibility – one of the compulsory requirements for enterprises when they fully integrate into the global playing field. And this has been blamed on the unreasonable legal framework on environment protection.

The experts have pointed out that the current policies on environment protection can be compared with a house with a lot of holes and shortcomings.

Duc has stressed that it is now necessary to relocate industrial production bases and remove workshops from residential quarters, especially the ones which use chemicals. Besides, Vietnam needs to apply the policies which allow to restrict the expansion of the brewery, alcohol, tobacco and the consumer goods production which contain substances harmful to people’s health.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have urged to set up a perfect legal framework which stipulates the punishment heavy enough to deter crimes. They also believe that it is necessary to set up reasonable policies to encourage SMEs to use modern and clean technologies in their production.

It is clear that the current regulations do not encourage enterprises to spend money on building waste treatment systems. Enterprises would rather to pay fines for violations, just several millions of dong, rather than spending billions of dong to set up waste treatment systems and multi-billions dong more to run the systems.

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