The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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Law Report: Vietnam

Waste Pickers in Vietnam


Recycling is common practice and households in Vietnam separate recyclable wastes such as metals and paper for sale to local recyclable depots and itinerant buyers. Waste pickers are also segregate reusable and recyclable wastes. While only a quarter of the population of Vietnam lives in urban areas, it produces nearly half of the waste generated in the country. The situation is expected to worsen as rapid economic growth and urbanization spread their expanse adding to the stress of waste management.

Size and Significance

Vietnam has the rare distinction of nearly 3000 craft villages which manufacture handicrafts, but also specialize in recycling discarded plastic and other waste materials. The villages buy plastic from local depots or waste pickers and process it into plastic pellets or film that can then be used to make new plastic products such as coat hangers and chairs. They also pelletise beer crates. Recycling is a vibrant industry in Vietnam, supported by the large informal network of waste pickers, itinerant buyers and recycling cottage industry.

Working Conditions

More than two-thirds of waste workers are women, who earn less than men working in the waste sector, and 9 percent of waste pickers are children. These groups tend to be socially marginalized. They frequently live on or near garbage disposal sites, and thus are exposed to environmental and safety hazards. A few efforts have been carried out to provide micro-credit to female waste pickers, and to reduce the number of children working at waste dumps. However, there is much to be done to support the informal waste sector.


A waste picker in Vietnam earns approximately 20,000 to 30,000 VND per day, well below the minimum wage of 37,000 to 51,000 VND.

Law and Policy

Vietnam has a large number of legal texts, including decrees, circulars, joint circulars and standards regulating solid waste management.

The Law on Environmental protection passed on November 29, 2005, came into effect from July 1st, 2006 replacing the earlier legislation of 1993. Decree No 59/2007/ND-CP of the Government provides for the Regulation on the solid waste management activities, the right and duty of the person related to solid waste management.

Solid and hazardous waste legislation

Anouncement No 50/TB-VPCP dated on March 19, 2007 on the conclusion of the Prime Minister at the seminar on Applying Solid waste treatment technologies that were studied in Vietnam.

Decision 23/2006/Q