Initiating a long-term strategy for the reduction of plastic waste in Vietnam’s Con Dao Island, the “Con Dao—A Destination to Reduce Plastic” campaign has already achieved some positive results since its first deployment in early 2022.
One of Vietnam’s most beautiful island destinations, Con Dao is among the “hot spots” for plastic waste in the region. With around 17–20 tons of garbage generated daily, data collected in July 2020 show the volume of untreated waste at the island’s Nhat Beach currently stands at more than 70,000 tons. Plastic waste generated from tourism activities on Con Dao has reached 221.4 tons/year, with the percentage of plastic waste generated at accommodation and tourist service establishments accounting for 33.3 percent of the total volume generated in the whole district (WWF, 2021). Plastic pollution is among the major issues of concern for local authorities in the process of economic development and environmental protection.
The “Con Dao – A Destination to Reduce Plastic” campaign aims to raise awareness among tourists, encouraging them to act more responsibly when visiting Con Dao. Supported by a series of practical and thought-provoking activities, the campaign has already delivered impressive results.
A signing ceremony between the World Wide Fund for Nature in Viet Nam (WWF-Viet Nam) and the Con Dao District People’s Committee was held in Con Dao district on March 26, 2022 jointly committing to the “Con Dao – A destination to reduce plastic”. The new commitment lays a solid foundation for reducing plastic waste on the island and working sustainably toward a green, clean, beautiful and safe living environment for the people of the district.
As part of the program, participants reached out to tourists and the people of Con Dao through various creative and important activities—such as the launch of a plastic reduction week, held from March 21–27, 2022 for hotel guests and patrons of the district’s coffee shops. Many respondents to the campaign agreed to participate, of which 15 hotels were selected to provide tourism handbooks on plastic reduction to educate tourists on the island. In addition, 15 stores serving coffee, beverages and tea were given paper cups and straws to offer environmentally friendly products replacing single-use plastic items. These are the first steps to help business units pay more attention to environmental issues on the island and work toward solutions using products capable of replacing single-use plastics.
Along with the participation of business establishments on the island, the campaign has been widely implemented via online channels such as Facebook and YouTube, among others, featuring broad-ranging information and content in interactive forms—including a variety of images, videos, mini-games and so on to help reach numerous tourists who have been and are coming to Con Dao. In addition, the “Plastic Beach Tourism” exhibition, combined with the “Garbage Exchange for Gifts Festival” held at the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment headquarters between March 25–26, 2022, was of great interest to both locals and tourists. The exhibition featured recycled products made from plastic waste by preschools in the district and the Trash2Art volunteer group; pictures of the environment and plastic pollution, and some eco-friendly products designed to replace single-use plastic. Games teaching information about plastic waste were played to attract many participants among visiting tourists, residents and children. Although the “Garbage Exchange for Gifts” program is still new to local people, it attracted 18 participants who exchanged a total of 49.09 kg of clean plastic waste.
Ms. Nguyen Thi My Quynh, Program Manager of Marine Protected Areas for the Project on Mitigating marine plastic debris in Viet Nam, WWF-Viet Nam said, “In parallel with local activities, we also want to attract participation joining hands with businesses and local communities to become active ambassadors to convey the message of protecting Con Dao and promoting respectful attitudes of tourists toward the environment and culture of Con Dao when traveling here”.
The WWF has set a goal to build Con Dao into the first plastic-free destination in Ba Ria–Vung Tau province by 2030. More specifically, Con Dao will strive to reduce 30 percent of the amount of plastic waste discarded in the island district compared to 2020 between by 2023; reduce the amount of plastic waste by 50 percent between 2024 and 2025; and reduce plastic waste by 75 percent in the 2026–2030 period.
To realize this goal, WWF-Viet Nam and the People’s Committee of Con Dao District will coordinate information and take specific actions to reduce plastic waste, such as: raising awareness of behavioral change towards plastic products and plastic waste through local communication networks and training programs; reviewing, amending, supplementing and completing mechanisms and policies on waste management with various localities; preventing and reducing ocean plastic waste from waste sources on land and at sea through gradually eliminating plastic waste hotspots; introducing waste reduction models into business and daily life; promoting local recycling and reuse activities; waste collection, classification, transportation and treatment in coastal areas and at sea; and combining management, monitoring and minimization of plastic pollution in marine protected areas through cleaning activities on beaches, coral reefs, and so on. The two sides have agreed to jointly develop a target plan to reduce plastic waste and commit to act by 2030.