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HALONG, VIETNAM – A week ago today an astounding number of 117 volunteers participated in the 4th Action for a Green Ha Long project, organized and facilitated by USAID, IUCN, Greenhub and Bhaya Cruise Group in Ha Long Bay. And the results are in!

(TRAVPR.COM) VIETNAM - July 2nd, 2018

The idea was to clean up the trash, collect the data and to analyze ways to reduce our impacts as tour operators, tourists and locals in Ha Long Bay. Through initial training’s and workshops provided by Marine Program Pacific Environment and all of the above, individuals were able to learn more about the issue, what it means to recycle and what can be recycled, to develop an understanding of zero-waste policies and methods, and the responsibilities that we have as individuals, groups and businesses as a whole. These were put to the test! Reflected by the sorting and auditing processes that were applied during the 4th Action beach clean activity.  

Firstly, the event reflected the extent of the issue, finding objects such as hypodermic needles, a sealed packet of cigarettes all the way from Sa Pa, North Vietnam, and an abundance of polystyrene.

Across the spread of 2 beach locations, 182 large bags were filled with recyclable, non-recyclable, hazardous and other materials, amounting to 741kg of trash collected in under one and a half hours. A total of 14,414 items.

That’s equivalent to over 10,585 apples!

What’s shocking is that a mere 2% of the materials collected were recyclable, meaning that the clean-up helped to recycled 288 items that would not have been recycled. Thus, an astonishing 98% of the materials found were non-recyclable, representing the imbalanced polarization of what can be reused and reformed into something else, coupled with the rapidly exceeding rate of production of these materials, putting into perspective of how big the issue really is.

Just some of the bags collated in one of the clean-up locations

Amongst the non-recyclable materials found were a significantly large amount of hazardous waste which included the likes of lighters, light bulbs, glass bottles, batteries and even more concerning, hypodermic needles and hospital tubes.

So, what else is going into our oceans that we don’t know about?

Fortunately, no animals were found. Implying that the materials are not affecting the immediate wildlife in this area by being caught up or injured by the disposed materials. But more research is to be conducted.

One of the boxes to hold hazardous materials

If you think that the main fight is just against plastic, then you are wrong. An even bigger problem, especially in South East Asia and in Africa, is the use of polystyrene.

Yet this material is pretty much poisonous for the environment and for human health, with more and more related problems occurring worldwide. The main issue is that the material does not biodegrade back in to the Earth and instead continues to break up into micro pieces that is inhaled and ingested by animals, especially in the ocean, which means it is getting in to our food-chain. This material not only creates heavy pollution to make but it is almost impossible to get rid of, as it is not recyclable.

Large to microsopic pieces of polystyrene were found everywhere, making it very difficult to collect

Furthermore, standard plastic bottles amounted to 11% (1586 items), 7% soft plastic food wrapper, 2% unknown hard plastic and 3% for other materials. With thousands of materials found in total, 2% accounts for approximately 200 items - all found in the little time of an hour! Certainly no treasure found on this beach!

These materials being most found on the beach alongside rope and glass which are also non-bio-recyclable materials.

Refuse or reuse, so they don't end up in places like this!

What is certain though is that more needs to be done, and on a wider scale. But for now, we can focus on cleaning more surface area in Ha Long Bay and more frequently. Accompanied with available, up-to-date education for our employees, suppliers, destination management, competitors and local community.

The amazing team that got their hands dirty and joined the fight for a HEALTHY OCEAN

A big thanks to Michael Greene & Co. at USAID, Jake Brunner & Co. at IUCN, Thuy, Ha & Co. at Greenhub, Niolce Portley Acting director of Marine Program Pacific Environment, Andrej Stein & Co. at Bhaya Cruise Group, and everyone else who participated in this great awareness event!

Looking forward to the next one!


#BhayaCruise #BhayaGroup #Cleanuphalong

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Name: Trang Tran
Company: Bhaya Group
Phone: +84 24 39 446 777
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