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New enterprise to address growing waste problem in Vietnam recognized at Taiwan summit

mGreen won a Biosphere Sustainabiity award at the 2019 APSES

mGreen Vice Director Tran Thi Thoa.

mGreen Vice Director Tran Thi Thoa. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Vietnamese enterprise mGreen won a Biosphere Sustainability award at the 2019 Asia Pacific Social Enterprise Summit for its unique initiative that encourages citizens to sort and recycle garbage in order to accumulate points and redeem rewards. Taiwan News spoke to Vice Director Tran Thi Thoa to find out more about the company.

Social enterprises often take on the responsibility of plugging gaps left by the state and voluntary sector. mGreen decided there needed to be a mechanism to encourage citizens to improve their recycling habits in lieu of the state's failure to address a growing waste problem in Vietnam.

The company's operations are based around a user-friendly, multi-function app, said Tran. Once a citizen downloads the program and inputs their details, they gain access to the contact information of their local collector, who can be called to take their waste and deliver it to junk collectors or recycling plants.

mGreen partners with a number of private companies, which exchange discounts on their products and services for advertising space on the interface. Users' recycling habits are recorded, and they gain 300 points for every kilo of waste they recycle, Tran said.

Points can be used in a variety of ways depending on which companies are offering rewards at a specific time, she added. Users have access to discounts on a huge variety of things, from meals, household goods and clothing, to travel and tours.

Some of the enterprise's partners include huge, international conglomerates such as Unilever, Tran explained. Unilever is currently offering app users a free umbrella in exchange for 1000 points.

People can also choose to save for higher rewards, she said, such as sightseeing trips that might otherwise be too expensive for the average citizen.

The initiative also helps provide stable jobs to scrap collectors who otherwise scavenge city streets and home garbage cans for items that can be recycled, Tran said.

mGreen is a relatively new initiative, and the scale of its operations are limited to Vietnam's two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. The company helps recycle 500 kilos of waste each day and services 20 apartment complexes, Tran said.

The people of Vietnam, however, collectively produce over 100,000 tons of waste each day, she stressed.

For this reason, mGreen is looking into how it can reach more partnerships with private companies and the state to expand its operations.

The mGreen app currently has 2000 users, but Tran said she believes due to its uniqueness in the market, and because of the incentives it provides for sorting waste, it can reach 1 million users within the next three years.

Tran said the company hopes to collaborate with the government to establish more recycling factories and centers around the country to service the potential user influx.

mGreen's reason for attending APSES was to seek out investors and collaboration opportunities in Taiwan and elsewhere, said Tran. Strategic cooperation on waste treatment technology with a regional specialist would greatly help the company meet its eventual goals, she said, and honor the 17 sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations.