Reducing Viet Nam’s Plastic Pollution through Digital Data

Users provide feedback on the digital platform during a stakeholders’ workshop. Photo credit: GreenHub.

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Access to information, evidence, and policy development help identify situations and monitor the effects of policy interventions.


Viet Nam’s plastic pollution is a problem that threatens its public and environmental health, resulting in financial losses across many development sectors. It is estimated that over seven million Vietnamese are negatively affected by the impacts of plastic pollution.

Health-related threats include microplastic fibers found in 12 of 24 commercial fish species in the Gulf of Tonkin. The country’s coral reefs and coastal mangroves are also severely polluted by plastics waste, which causes coral disease and loss of mangrove cover. This increases coastal flooding and water-borne diseases, affecting families dependent on fisheries and tourism.

Although various programs and projects have been implemented to address plastic pollution at the national and local levels, there is minimal sharing of data, knowledge, and lessons learned.

In an effort to collate these resources, a Vietnamese nongovernment organization in 2020 launched the open digital platform to serves as a centralized knowledge sharing repository. With funding from the United States Agency for International Development’s Local Solutions for Plastic Pollution project, the platform provides access to data, tools and best practices to reduce plastic pollution. It also connects stakeholder organizations—such as local governments, businesses, and civil society organizations—to enhance collaboration and communication with the public on the negative effects of plastic pollution on human health.


Viet Nam, listed as one of the top five polluters of the world’s oceans, discharges 0.28–0.73 million tons of plastic waste annually.

To address this complex issue, stakeholders need to access the growing amount of data, information, publications, and experiences on plastic pollution and waste management. However, Viet Nam lacks access to credible, accurate, and up-to-date knowledge on plastic pollution and solutions that has led to problems with policy development, such as resource prioritization and efficiency, duplication of efforts, lack of guidance on data and information collection, and behavior change strategies.


Rapid economic growth, urbanization and changing lifestyles in Viet Nam have led to a national crisis of plastic pollution. There has been an exponential increase in annual plastic use in Viet Nam to 81 kg per capita in 2019 from 3.8 kg per capita in 1990 and 33 kg per capita in 2010. About 72% of that plastic ends up as waste (equivalent to 58 kg of waste per capita per year).

More than half of plastic waste generated (3.6 metric ton per year) is mismanaged, with recycling only at about 15% due to (i) underdeveloped solid waste collection and management systems, (ii) lack of source segregation that limits plastic recycling, (iii) excessive production and use of problematic plastics, (iv) limited after-use value for many plastics, and (v) littering.


GreenHub, a Vietnamese nongovernment organization, worked with the country’s government agencies and designed and piloted the platform. It connects stakeholder organizations and the public to address the plastic pollution problem and enhance solid waste management. It aims to reduce plastic pollution through collective action from the ground up by strengthening and uniting networks, communities and individuals through (i) environmental health literacy, (ii) locally-determined and data-driven solutions for advocacy, (iii) policy advocacy, (iv) business innovation, and (v) traditional media and emerging communications technologies.

The platform presents a wide range of content and tools that are absent in Viet Nam. These include:

  • Guide on technical analysis, policy, strategy, and actions
  • Raw data (socio-economic, business, and pollution content)
  • Tools to facilitate searching and analysis of data, knowledge, events, and practices
  • Tools to promote user interactivity and participation
  • Audiovisual media gallery with images, podcasts, videos, and art
  • Content and tools from national and local levels, such as guidelines for assessment and how to reduce plastic use at individual level and community level and best practices on plastic smart cities

The platform’s focus is on actionable content and tools. In the first phase under the Local Solutions for Plastic Pollution project (2021–2023), the platform attracted 111,000 views. Over 2,500 citizens contributed data and information. GreenHub also shared this data with the Viet Nam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI), and locally at the city level. The platform now, which has seven thematic sections, is user-interactive and provides networking tools. Data entry can be done using phones or tablets, and activities are mapped to facilitate user search.

The site has the following features:

  • Raw data on plastic pollution and monitoring. This can be visualized through a dashboard and geographic information system layers.
  • Networking experiences. Stakeholders in the plastic value chain can register as members and post information relating to their work, creating opportunities for collaboration.
  • Up-to-date database on national and local policies, strategies, and action plans. This supports national development initiatives on plastic pollution reduction.
  • Successful case studies. These feature reduction of plastic pollution with emphasis on positive changes, single-use plastic reduction, and improved health conditions.

Moving forward, a formal partnership of collaborating organizations (government, private sector, universities, nongovernment organizations such as the Plastic & Health Action Partnership) has been organized with a commitment to support the digital platform technically.

Additional financial support will be sourced through a variety of mechanisms, such as externally-funded and joint projects, in-kind contributions (skills transfers, data/ information, training), equipment, and funded services requested by specific stakeholders.


Experiences and lessons learned during the project include the following:

  • Prioritizing information. Placing priority on the type of information to use requires numerous stakeholder consultations to separate “needs” from “wants” and “personal” from “organizational” needs. Consultations with other comparable platforms, such as the C40 Knowledge and Global Partnership on Marine Litter, for information sharing and best practices are also essential.
  • Content production. Prioritizing quality content, maintaining responsive relationships with contributors, and documenting progress and challenges are crucial for relevancy and consistency.
  • Copyright and access rights. Determining copyright and access rights for content can be complicated and requires understanding and monitoring of government legal regulations, conditions set by content providers, and international standards.
  • Platform value. Hosting essential content and tools are critical to stay relevant and to retain key stakeholders while attracting new users.
  • User appreciation. Contributors and users of the platform must be acknowledged and engaged as content and tool providers to build the community.
  • Capacity development. Platform staff and users must be provided with waste management and platform information technology to maintain the site’s activities.
  • Knowledge sharing. Links to other platforms must be provided to share content and tools, to ensure information is up-to-date, and to support networking and community building.
  • Sustainability. Content must be consistently relevant and updated to meet the evolving needs and interests of its user base. Quality and accuracy of content must be monitored to maintain user trust and engagement. Long-term funding needs to be secured to sustain the platform’s operation and development. Users must be continually engaged to sustain interest and engagement over the long term. The changing legal and regulatory landscapes, especially in terms of data privacy and content moderation, must be continually monitored.

Note: Trang Nguyen Thi Thu made her presentation on Developing A National Waste Data Platform: Experience and Recommendations during the Bangkok Plastics Week on 9–12 October 2023.


Action Partnership on Plastics and Health. Digital Platform for Plastic & Health.

Center for Supporting Green Development (GreenHub). Local Solutions for Plastic Pollution.

Dai Di. 2020. Viet Nam and the World Economic Forum Launch Partnership to Tackle Plastic Pollution and Marine Plastic Debris. World Economic Forum. 23 December.

National Plastic Action Partnership Viet Nam. 2022. Viet Nam Plastic Action Assessment and Roadmap Considerations. Geneva: World Economic Forum.

United States Agency for International Development. Viet Nam Local Solutions for Plastic Pollution.

Trang Nguyen Thi Thu
Co-founder and Deputy Director, GreenHub

Trang Nguyen Thi Thu is an expert in marine waste management, having led projects in plastic pollution, environment, and development. She has conducted trainings on plastic surveys and monitoring for the Coordinating Body of East Asian Seas and East Asia Network. She facilitates the Plastic Health Partnership in Viet Nam to mobilize knowledge gathering, assessments, and innovative solutions in the 3Rs toward a circular economy.

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