MOL to collect marine plastic debris in Vietnam

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) April 13 announced that its proposed survey aimed at establishing a system to collect plastic debris and other marine debris using debris collection ships was selected for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) business support program. 

With an eye toward practical application around 2023 in Vietnam, where the marine debris issue is growing into a serious problem, MOL will conduct surveys for about one year after the start of the contract, including verification of the business model and evaluations of local shipyards that could build collection ships while also considering cooperation with Vietnamese government ministries and agencies.

Plastic waste accounts for an estimated 70% of marine debris, which has become a global concern. Experts predict that by 2050, the volume of plastic waste in the ocean might exceed that of fish. 

In particular, the volume of debris in Southeast Asia accounts for the majority, with 700,000 tons, accounting for 6% of the worldwide total, originating in Vietnam, which follows China, Indonesia, and the Philippines as leading sources of plastic waste, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).  

In addition, Vietnam’s geomorphic characteristics, especially its long north-south coastline, makes it more susceptible to debris flowing into the ocean, and the volume of waste is increasing along with rapid urbanization. Thus, the nation’s marine debris issue becomes more serious every year. 

On the other hand, marine debris in Vietnam is manually collected, relying on inefficient, labor-intensive methods that do not significantly reduce debris volume. MOL will establish a locally tailored marine debris collection system using marine debris collection ships, through this JICA-backed project.

Marine plastic waste barely breaks down in nature and remains in the sea semi-permanently. So, there are concerns about marine pollution and water pollution, adverse effects on marine organism, and negative impacts on tourism due to visual pollution. 

MOL is also moving ahead with a collection of microplastic particles in the ocean using specialized devices installed aboard a general cargo vessel and a study to convert them into an energy resource. 

In the future, MOL will work to expand the waste collection business in other areas, mainly in Southeast Asia, by making the use of its knowledge related to collection of marine debris and the group network to help protect the world’s marine environment.

Photo credit: iStock/ Kwangmoozaa

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