Companies Operating in an Industrial Sector are Subject to More Stringent Environmental-Related Requirements in Vietnam

by Sansanee Dhanasarnsombat 07 Dec. 2015

As of 10 December 2015, companies generating industrial wastewater, industrial emissions, or solid waste with an amount of 500 m3/day or greater, of 200,000 m3/day or greater, of 5 tones/day or greater are; and facilities producing, trading, or providing services used radioactive materials or generating radioactive waste required to obtain an approval for its environmental impact assessment (EIA) report as specified under the Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT adopted on 27 October 2015. Furthermore, Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT states that companies generating industrial emissions listed in the list of emission sources with great flow (provided in Appendix I of this Circular) are required to register as an industrial emission generator, and install an automatic air emission monitoring equipment. It should be noted that producers and traders listed in Appendix 2 of the Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT are subject to the requirement to carry out an environmental management system, unless they have complied with the environmental management system under the national standard TCVN ISO 14001.

Background
Pursuant to the Law on Environmental Protection No. 55/2014/QH13 of 23 June 2014 (LEP 2014), all companies operating in Vietnam are obligated to protect the environment in line with economic development, social security development under the Law on Environmental Protection in order to develop biodiversity conservation, and adapt to climate change, and to ensure the right of all people to live in healthy environment (Art. 4).

In particular, the LEP 2014 indicates certain environmental-related requirements such as the requirement to obtain an approval for its environmental impact assessment (EIA) report (Art. 18, 19, 20, 22); to obtain a confirmation letter for its environmental protection plan (Art. 29, 30); to comply with environmental protection requirements regarding climate change adaptation (Art. 39), environmental protection regulations applicable to industrial parks, export processing zones, high-tech zones (Art. 66), environmental protection regulations applicable to producers, traders, service establishments (Art. 68), environmental protection regulations on import of discarded materials (Art. 76); to comply with regulations on solid waste management, including classification, collection, transport, recycling, and disposal of ordinary or hazardous waste (Art. 85, 86, 87, 90, 91, 92); to comply with regulations on wastewater management (Section 4); and to comply with regulations on dust, emission, noise, vibration, light, and radiation (Section 5).

Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT of 27 October 2015
On 27 October 2015, in order to provide specific regulations on environmental protection for industry and trade sector, the Ministry of Industry and Trade adopted the Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT. It replaces the Decision 52/2008/QD-BCT dated 30 December 2008 of the Ministry of Industry and Trade providing temporary regulation on environmental protection for industry and trade sector.

Accordingly, as of 10 December 2015, companies subject to an environmental impact assessment – EIA  requirement are required to obtain an approval of their EIA report as specified under the Circular No. 27/2015/TT-BTNMT. These companies are listed in Appendix II of the Decree No. 18/2015/ND-CP; including, for example:

  • Companies generating industrial wastewater, industrial emission, or solid waste with an amount of 500 m3/day or greater, of 200,000 m3/day or greater, of 5 tones/day respectively;
  • Companies building a facility for manufacturing of industrial explosives, a permanent storage of explosives with a capacity of more than 5 tonnes, or a chemical storage with a capacity of 500 tonnes or greater;
  • Companies manufacturing battery with a capacity of 50,000 kWh/year or greater; and
  • Facilities producing, trading, or providing services used radioactive materials or generating radioactive waste.

The EIA must be performed in the preparation stage of the project (Clause 1, Art. 6, Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT).

Furthermore, Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT states that, during the preparation stage of the project, owners of companies subject to an environmental protection plan requirement are required to register their environmental protection plan in line with Art. 18 of the Decree No. 18/2015/ND-CP and Art. 33 of the Circular No. 27/2015/TT-BTNMT.

Under the Decree No. 18/2015/ND-CP, companies must ensure that the environmental management plan is developed based on the management and monitoring program suggested in the approved EIA report (Clause 2, Art. 16). In the case that the management and monitoring program is changed, companies are required to update the environmental management plan, and submit the updated environmental management plan to the People Committees at commune level (Clause 2, Art. 10 of Circular No. 27/2015/TT-BTNMT). Form for an environmental management plan is provided in Appendix 5.4, 5.5, and 5.6 of the Circular No. 27/2015/TT-BTNMT.

Environmental-related requirements imposed on producers, traders, and service establishments include the following (Art. 11, Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT):

  • To obtain an approval of environmental management plan, and post such approved plan at the office of the communal People Committee ;
  • To operate environmental protection systems such as wastewater, air emission collection and treatment systems in line with the process indicated in the approved EIA or environmental protection plan;
  • To classify and manage industrial ordinary solid waste as specified in the Decree No. 38/2015/ND-CP, and sign a contract with a facility permitted to collect, transport, and dispose of ordinary solid waste;
  • To register as a hazardous waste generator; classify, store, and manage hazardous waste in compliance with the Circular No. 36/2015/TT-BTNMT;
  • To register as an industrial emission generator as specified under the Decree No. 38/2015/ND-CP, and install an automatic air emission monitoring equipment. These requirements apply to companies generating industrial emission listed in the list of emission sources with great flow (provided in Appendix I of the Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT);
  • To carry out environmental monitoring applicable to the parameters and frequencies indicated in the approved EIA or environmental protection plan;
  • To install an automatic wastewater monitoring equipment. This requirement applies to companies located outside of the industrial park generating wastewater with a capacity of 1,000m3/day or greater; and
  • To build an environmental management system. This requirement applies to producers, traders listed in Appendix 2 of the Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT.

Producers and traders listed in Appendix 2 of the Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT are not required to carry out an environmental management system when they have complied with the environmental management system under the national standard TCVN ISO 14001 (Clause 7b, Art. 11, Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT). Nonetheless, these producers and traders are obligated to comply with the environmental management system’s contents specified in Art. 27 of the Decree No. 19/2015/ND-CP. It includes, for example, the requirement to apply process and equipment for efficient production, saving energy, raw materials, and reducing environmental pollution.

Regarding import of discarded materials used as production materials, under the Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT (Art. 12), companies importing discarded materials must make a monetary deposit as a guarantee for payments at the Vietnam Environment Protection Fund – VEPF or commercial banks where the companies have their main trading accounts as specified under the Decree No. 38/2015/ND-CP. The purpose of the deposit is to ensure that companies importing discarded materials will be responsible for handling of risks related to environmental pollution that may occur from the imported discarded material shipments (Art. 57, Decree No. 38/2015/ND-CP).

Furthermore, Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT (Clause 2, Art. 12) states that companies using imported discarded materials as production materials are required to obtain a certificate of eligibility of environmental protection for import of discarded materials as specified under the Decree No. 38/2015/ND-CP.

In terms of reporting requirements, producers and traders are required to submit an annual report on environment protection activities to the provincial Departments of Industry and Trade – DoIT by 31 March of the following year. The form for the report is provided in Appendix 3 of the Circular No. 35/2015/TT-BCT. 

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