Consultancy for End Market Plastic Study


I. Background

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation is a not-for-profit international development organisation that makes a lasting difference in the lives of people living in poverty by helping them raise incomes and access basic services. Driven by the Sustainable Development Goals, we are dedicated to an equitable society in which all people are free to pursue their own sustainable development. Through our work in the Agriculture, Energy, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sectors, we help realise locally owned solutions that strengthen institutions, kick-start markets, and enable people to work their way out of poverty well beyond the scope of our projects. SNV has a long-term, local presence in over 25 countries and is supported by over 1,300 staff around the world. SNV has been working in Vietnam since 1995.

Vietnam is a thriving country with a large and growing population, limited existing waste management infrastructure (high levels of mismanagement/leakage into environment), and yet a rapidly increasing rate of plastic consumption (6% CAGR). According to a study initiated by the National Plastic Action Platform (NPAP) Vietnam, most plastic waste (51%) is mis-managed or leaked into the environment while only 38% is incinerated or goes to an engineered landfill and 11% is either formally or informally recycled. In a business-as-usual scenario, the mis-managed plastic waste will double by 2030 to approximately 3 million tonnes/year. The Vietnam government has shown a strong commitment to addressing this challenge with recent policy interventions such as the new Environmental Protection Law (2020), the National Strategy on Integrated Management of Solid Waste (2018), the NPAP formation (2020), and the initiation of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging to be launched in 2024.

To help Vietnam tackle this issue, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation submitted the Clean Cities for a Green Vietnam (CCGV) project proposal to the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) to implement a multiple large-scale, integrated, sustainable, and holistic waste management infrastructure project leveraging proven technologies in selected cities through a consortium of partners that will provide a reference for accelerated replication across the country. During a first feasibility phase, SNV will conduct different studies and technical assessments to be able to design the planned interventions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This assignment is part of this phase.

II. Rationale of the assignment

According to a recent report published by the World Bank on the opportunities and barriers for plastic circularity in Vietnam, it estimates that 3.90 million TPY of the three key resins (only considered PET, PE and PP) are consumed in Vietnam in 2019. Out of this consumption, only 33% is recycled (1.28 million TPY) while the remaining 67% are disposed of in sanitary and unsanitary landfills and dumpsites, incinerated, burnt via open burning, or disposed of, littered, or leaked onto land or into waterways (2.62 million TPY) (WB 2021). A similar study from IUCN and UNEP (2019) estimated a total of 7 million TPY considering all plastic types (PP, LDPE, HDPE, PVC, Polyester, PET Polyester, PET and PS), using data of 2018.

The above-mentioned World Bank study mapped out the recyclers in the country, showing a total of 59 formal mechanical recyclers/processors of which: 15 (26%) operate PET resins; 42 (71%) operate PE resins; and 45 (76%) operate PP resins. With an estimated formal recycling capacity of 1,167,400 tonnes per year (2019), this covers 64% of the PET packaging consumption, 0% for PET Polyester, 29% for PP and 30% for PE (HDPE/LDPE/LLDPE). On the other hand, the informal recyclers (including 9 craft villages) possess a combined estimated recycling capacity of 637,500 tonnes of plastic per year (2019), which adds 20% for PET packaging, 0% for PET polyester, 16% for PP and 20% for PE grades. The study also estimated a planned capacity of the sector based on different interviews. Considering this addition, there is yet key gaps in most resins, except for PET packaging.

From this estimated formal and informal recycling capacity in Vietnam of 1.84 million TPY for PET, PE and PP, 1.28 million TPY (70%) is utilized for locally sourced post-consumer and post-industrial plastic, while 0.30 million TPY (16%) is utilized for imported plastic scrap. The remaining 0.26 million TPY (14%) of the capacity is inefficiently used due to contaminants in the feedstock and a lack of utilization (WB 2021).

Vietnam has the potential to unlock material value up to US$3.4 billion per year from recycling various plastic resins by providing the right enabling environment that provides incentives for recycling and other systemic interventions. Currently only 25% is unlocked from this potential (WB 2021).

Although the World Bank study is very relevant for the CCGV project, it took place between Sep 2020 – March 2021, leaving the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic out of consideration, and using data of 2019 (the largest covid outbreak in Vietnam began in April 2021). In addition, the study lacked a recycling capacity assessment on low-value plastic waste (mono-material and multi-material flexibles), a plastic often seen as not friendly for recycling. This existent mismatch between the demand for low-value plastic waste and a virtually non-existent supply from CFR flows highlights a relevant gap in the market that needs to be addressed to curb the environmental impacts of unrecycled low-value plastics.

Even though 46% of the consumed domestic plastic in Hanoi and HCMC is flexible mono-material plastic, this type of resin is the least recycled (3% of recycled plastics) due to its low-value (NPAP 2020). Moreover, flexible mono-material and multi-material plastics (such as sachets and sweet wrappers), which account for 74% of consumed domestic plastic in these two cities, make up for only 20% of all plastic collected for recycling (and less than 10% among the informal sector). Even for higher-value rigid plastics (such as PET, HDPE, and PP bottles and containers), the CFR rate remains at only 28%. More than half of all plastic leaked into waterways (3,200 tonnes for Hanoi and 6,800 tonnes for HCMC) is of the flexible type.

Paradoxically, there is demand for low value plastic waste to be repurposed as construction material and furniture (Vinacolour), plastic sandals and bags at craft villages, and Residue Derived Fuel (RDF) (URENCO). However, the transportation costs towards the outskirts of the city, the contamination of plastic (attributed to poor segregation practices at source and packaging designs), and limited space within the city to process the plastic makes it a much-less desirable plastic for informal waste collectors to recycle (who contribute with 90% of CFR plastics in the cities).

This existent mismatch between demand for low-value plastic waste and a virtually non-existent supply from CFR flows highlights a relevant gap in the market that needs to be addressed to curb the environmental impacts of unrecycled low-value plastics in Vietnam. Moreover, the highly volatile environment (low valuation of plastics due to low oil prices, unrecognized labour by communities/government, social stigma, and health hazards) under which informal collectors operate can discourage many of them from further pursuing operations which could significantly diminish the current capacity for CFR plastics in the country (Yeoh 2020).

Notably by leveraging NPAP analytics, the WWF study, and the World Bank report, the project will conduct the End market plastic study that considers the impact of COVID-19 on both formal and informal recycling sectors, with emphasis on understanding the gaps with the low-value plastics.

III. Objective of the assignment

The end market plastic study aims to understand the barriers and potential opportunities to unlock higher demand for recycling of plastic waste in Vietnam.

From one side, the study will provide an overview on the recycling capacity (current and new that are in preparation/announced) for low and high-value plastics, identify the technology, product, and market gaps that the project could help to fill in. This will be focused on Post Consumer Recyclables (PCR) and in the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh and influential area (recyclers and processors located in nearby districts, servicing the cities). From the other side, the study aims to understand the applications that are produced by convertors from each plastic types. For this, a country-wide analysis will be done including the potential for export. Furthermore, it needs to consider the national recycling and source segregation aspirations within the new Environmental Law, along with the, EPR commitments.

In parallel, the CCGV project will conduct a waste characterisation survey in both cities. The results, to be shared with the consultant, will be key for the end market study to provide recommendations regarding the potential market per plastic type.

The results of the end market study should provide the necessary information to design the operational model to promote downstream co-investments with formal recyclers and processors per polymer type. Through request for proposals (RFP), we will define the criteria, objectives and applications.

IV. Scope of Work

The consultant will be responsible to conduct the end market plastic study in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh cities and neighbouring provinces (if required), with the local support on facilitation of meetings and providing information by GreenHub in Hanoi and ENDA in Ho Chi Minh city, and under the guidance of SNV.

The study aims to respond to the following questions:

  • What is the recycling capacity and actual recycling rate for each polymer type and plastic application per selected city (and neighbouring province if applicable)? Considering formal and informal sectors, and all polymer types.
  • Who and where are the existing formal and informal recyclers located (mapping)? And type of polymer, capacity, and utilisation levels? And obtain their aspirations for increasing capacity or expanding to other polymers.
  • What is the market demand for each polymer type in terms of applications (demand from convertors / brand owners / Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs))? What quality requirements are necessary to meet this and how this impacts the quality of segregated bales from MRFs?
  • What are the barriers and reasons behind the gaps for the less recycled polymers and plastic applications? Considering quality, volume and requirements of CFR, plastic market demand from converters and supply from aggregators, value of imported plastic scraps, collection and transportation costs, availability of equipment for recycling, national capacity, legal and policy constrains, etc.
  • Which interventions can trigger the demand for the less recycled polymers in the market? Provide specific recommendations for outlets per city and polymer type, which will help to determine the most appropriate operational model and generation of opportunities for private sector.

For this purpose, the consultant will conduct, but not limited to:

  • Desk review of the most recent studies and inventories of the plastic sector in Vietnam. At least, the following two main documents needs to be consulted: World Bank, Market Study for Vietnam: Plastics Circularity Opportunities and Barriers, 2021; and UNEP & IUCN, National Guidance for plastic pollution hotspotting and shaping action, 2020.
  • Mapping and complete inventory of recyclers/convertors and processors in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minch Cities. To provide a complete table in Excel with names, contact, address, polymer type, capacities, actual recycling (both mechanical and chemical recycling (if any)), plans of expansion, etc. And GPS location of each facility, preferably in Shapefile format.
  • In-dept interviews with relevant stakeholders from private sector (collectors, aggregators, recyclers, processors, converters, brand owners, associations, etc) and from public sector (MONRE, DONREs, EPAs), and other organisations (NPAP, WWF, and other relevant NGOs).
  • Consultation workshop to share the study findings with local authorities (DONRE), private sector (URENCO/CITENCO, recyclers, convertors …), local organisations and other key influencers. The consultant will facilitate a workshop separately in Hanoi and another in Ho Chi Minh City, to present the main findings, validate the results and adjust as per feedbacks.

V. Deliverables and timeline

The main expected deliverable is an End market plastic study, for Hanoi and HCMC. The report will include, but not limited to:

  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology for desk study, mapping and interviews.
  • Overview of capacity and actual recycling per each polymer type and application per city.
  • Mapping and detailed information per recyclers and processors for per city.
  • Main findings of the barriers and gaps for low recycling.
  • Proposed interventions to trigger the market
  • Conclusions and recommendations.

The consultancy is expected to start from beginning of July to the end of October 2022. The consultation with local stakeholders is expected to take place in September, after some results and conclusions are already obtained from interviews and desk review. The total length of this assignment is estimated to be 4 months, including the desk review, interviews, workshops and writing of draft and final reports.

For more details on the Expression of Interest process, submission requirements, and evaluation details, please see corresponding sections below:

Submission Requirements Interested organisations/ consultant teams/ individuals should submit the EOIs with following information/ documents via the link
  1. Letter of Interest
  2. The applicant’s professional qualifications and CVs which requires a degree in Engineering with a broad range of experience related to plastic waste, end market plastic study/ survey/ mapping; Having experience and knowledge on various treatment options and recycling options for plastic waste; Having experience of working for donor-funded projects/ assignments; Understanding the locations as well as relevant stakeholders from public and private sectors is an advantage
  3. Business registration certificate of the company (if any);
Deadline for EOI Submissions  EOIs are due 17:00 on July 1st, 2022

Selection Process

SNV will review all Expressions of Interest received in accordance with the guidelines and criteria in this solicitation. SNV reserves the right to exclude any EOIs that do not meet the guidelines. Please note that SNV is unable to provide detailed feedback to those EOIs that are not selected.

  1. Step 1: SNV will shortlist selected EOIs, and unsuccessful respondents will be notified. Successful applicants will be contacted by SNV.
  2. Step 2: SNV will release Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the specific activities and contract with the selected organizations/ consultants.

Protection of Information

We request that Expressions of Interest responses be free of any intellectual property that the applicant wishes to protect. Should offerors wish to include proprietary intellectual property that they believe would be helpful for SNV, please note the proprietary nature of such information. Costing information will be kept confidential and will not be shared beyond SNV.

Issuance of this EOI does not constitute a commitment, award, or engagement on the part of SNV nor does it commit SNV to any future commitment or engagement.

Note: SNV reserves the right to change or cancel this requirement in the EOI/or solicitation process at any time.

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