Genuine drive to clean up Vietnamese streets

10:00 | 31/01/2019
After 10 years of investment in Vietnam, David Duong, president and CEO of Vietnam Waste Solutions (VWS) and the affectively-named “King of Trash” looks to make his homeland more beautiful, cleaner and greener.
genuine drive to clean up vietnamese streets
David Duong, president and CEO of Vietnam Waste Solutions

What are you the most satisfied about after a decade of investment in Vietnam?

People keep asking why I chose the garbage business. I felt it was my destiny. Indeed, I built a business out of trash to earn a living in the United States. Meanwhile, I made an investment in Vietnam with a view to contributing to a cleaner, greener, and healthier environment.

After a meeting with Ho Chi Minh City’s leaders in 2003, I returned to my homeland to implement a project. As of present, VWS has become the city’s leading waste treatment company using US technologies to handle 5,000 tonnes of garbage a day. This is my most satisfying achievement.

Is there anything you are not ­satisfied about?

There are still many projects to contribute to the development of the city. However, we need the support of the local authorities and agencies to implement them.

For instance, VWS is committed to creating more local jobs once we put into operation the waste sorting lines using new technology at Da Phuoc Solid Waste Treatment Complex. However, the project remains stagnant as the city has not succeeded in separating waste at the source.

An additional issue is that while the company is prepared and more than willing to plant trees surrounding the project, the city is running behind schedule with the site clearance.

In 2018, Ho Chi Minh City made great progress in sorting waste at the source, especially at some of the central districts. How do you see this?

I have been keeping a close eye on this progamme because it reflects the city’s efforts to create a more civilised and healthy environment. In fact, waste classification at the source may ease many problems related to garbage in the city. At present, the city folk have started to separate organic and inorganic waste into different garbage bins. However, garbage collectors still mix the sorted waste all up. This makes it difficult to convince more people to begin selectively collecting their waste.

Besides media activities, it is also necessary to develop a more efficient waste collection system from vehicles to transfer stations.

genuine drive to clean up vietnamese streets
VWS handed over six custom-built garbage trucks to the southern provinces of Vietnam

In 2018, VWS imported eight garbage trucks meeting US technological standards and fuelled by compressed natural gas (CNG). The company has donated six of the trucks to Ho Chi Minh City, Long An, and Kien Giang provinces. What stands behind this obviously costly move?

I always want to apply cutting-edge technologies in Vietnam and do the best for my homeland. A few years ago, a delegation of Ho Chi Minh City leaders paid a working visit to California and made a field trip to California Waste Solutions (CWS). After seeing the modern garbage trucks at CWS, the leaders expressed their hope that we would bring this truck model to Vietnam. To fulfil their wish, I have invited experts specialising in garbage truck manufacturing to conduct a feasibility study and develop specialised trucks tailored for Vietnam.

Each truck can carry 10 tonnes of garbage. The vehicles are powered by clean energy and are equipped with a waste compression compartment and a sewage leachate container to prevent effluents from running onto the street. The vehicles boast a system of cameras, thick steel frame, suitable colour and lights, in addition to an automatic atomiser to give off a fragrant smell whenever they stop. The modern garbage trucks are environmentally-friendly and safe to use in Vietnam. Each of the special-use truck costs some $500,000.

I hope Vietnam can gradually replace obsolete garbage trucks. Thus, VWS is looking for potential partners and car-makers to produce customised garbage trucks using state-of-art technology in Vietnam.

Do you have any other plans to ­improve waste collection in the city?

Besides garbage trucks, I also want to invite manufacturers to design environmentally-friendly bins meeting the conditions in Vietnam. In 2019, I will tie up with some industry experts to produce customised garbage bins for the city centre. In addition, we will study a system to convey waste from the alleys to waste transfer stations with a view to making the city more civilised and cleaner.

VWS plans to invest in new waste treatment technologies for Da Phuoc Solid Waste Treatment Complex in 2019. Could you tell us more about this project?

VWS has submitted the plan for the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee for approval. The estimated budget for the project is quite large, but I believe it will bring enormous benefits.

After 10 years of waste treatment in Vietnam, VWS gained a deep understanding of the garbage characteristics in the country. It is mainly mixed waste without classification from its sources. Therefore, the complex needs cutting-edge technology to process mixed waste as well as convert it into value-added products for the city and the country. Some of these products are electricity for household consumption, microbial fertiliser for plants and crops to contribute to a clean and sustainable agriculture, as well as CNG for zero-emission vehicles like new-style garbage trucks.

If 500 garbage trucks were fuelled by CNG, it would bring significant economic and environmental gains. I am looking forward to the city’s approval of the project to update the waste treatment technology in 2019.

How is the progress at the Green Technology Park in the southern province of Long An?

The Green Technology Park is an environmentally-friendly waste treatment park in Long An’s Thu Thua district. After completing the road infrastructure, we are ready to implement the next phase of construction, once green-lighted by the local authorities. I have a vision to develop the Green Technology Park into a waste treatment centre for the key southern economic zone. I always try my best to help alleviate environmental pollution for the country.

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