Apr 02, 2021 / 18:04

Green Chemistry: A must-do practicality for Vietnam’s sustainable growth

Green Chemistry training must be promoted at universities and fully applied in production.

Green Chemistry (GC) should be viewed as must-do practicality in Vietnam amid rampant release of harmful chemicals in the country, both domestic and international voices have raised.

 Participants at the workshop held in Hanoi on March 31. Photo: UNDP Vietnam

It prompts the need to improve the practicality of teaching GC at universities and applying it to the production process, representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), universities and businesses agreed at a workshop held in Hanoi earlier this week.

Vietnam’s chemical industry is estimated to produce roughly three million tons of solid waste each year, including 30% toxic waste.

The participants agreed that GC is a sustainable trend for the chemicals industry in all countries. Applying GC in production helps reduce soil and water pollution, and so to minimize the harmful impact of toxic chemicals on people’s health.

They said GC training must be promoted at schools and fully applied in production.

Some universities have inserted GC in their curricula via separate courses while others integrated GC in other courses, showed results of a survey on the level of understanding and current teaching situation of GC in 44 universities in Vietnam.

To raise awareness of GC, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNDP took action several years ago with a project entitled “Application of Green Chemistry in Vietnam to support green growth and reduction in the use and release of POPs/harmful chemicals”.

The project is aimed to create a favorable environment for introducing GC and applications to the production industry in Vietnam and reduce the use and release of chemicals controlled under the Stockholm and Minamata Conventions.

 Hoang Thanh Vinh, Programme Analyst of UNDP Vietnam. Photo: UNDP Vietnam

Efforts in both theory and practice

Luu Hoang Ngoc, deputy director-general of Vietnam Chemicals Agency, MoIT stressed that: “All chemical activities aim to develop Vietnam’s chemical industry sustainably and to protect the environment. We hope that students majoring in chemistry will also be equipped with knowledge and experience of sustainable development and green chemistry.”

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vu Dinh Tien, Vice Dean of School of Chemical Engineering, Hanoi University of Science and Technology (HUST), shared his view: “We have started to make Green Chemistry an official subject for the students enrolling since 2020. However, to make this subject relevant to business practice, we need support from the project and international experts.”

Hoang Thanh Vinh, Programme Analyst of UNDP Vietnam, said “We have several small funding for activities related to environmental protection, green chemistry and sustainable development for businesses.”

He noted that within the framework of the project, UNDP was ready to mobilize experts to consult and assist the universities and businesses in applying green chemistry, designing wastewater treatment systems or advanced technical solutions.

Meanwhile, Ngo Tien Luan, head of Technical Department, Vietnam Paper Corporation, said  his company is developing many technical solutions in paper production processes such as a change in washing technology, water recirculation, applying new materials, investing in renovation and upgrade of motors and lighting systems.

“For a business that wants to protect the environment, in addition to using completely-new technologies or replacing the entire production line, we also need to make use of available resources, promote technical innovation initiatives, with priorities given to energy-saving solutions and application of technical advances in production.”

At the meeting, businesses’ representatives also shared that they were willing to cooperate with the project and the universities to share their practice and create a chance for students to learn their practical experiences in applying GC.