Exploring Environmental Business Possibilities in Vietnam
Human resource development through on-the-job training
Human resource development through on-the-job training
On-the-job training at a beer factory in Vietnam to teach engineers about specific environmental conservation technologies and environmentally-friendly production technologies generally succeeded in meeting training objectives, but also identified a number of issues where more training will be needed in future.
With economic growth continuing in Vietnam, the country is making progress with instituting environmental legislation. The comprehensive Law on Environmental Protection entered into force in 1994, and was subsequently amended in 2005 and 2014. However, implementation of that legislation presents various problems, including the lack of transparency around the division of powers and roles among Vietnam’s government departments and agencies and the lack of human resources with expertise in environmental management (Note 1).
Recently there have also been cases of environmental pollution by companies becoming social problems. Wastewater pollution accompanying the construction of a steel factory along Vietnam’s northern central coastline in April 2016 sparked rare protests in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and other major cities (Note 2).
As a result, the government announced that it would strengthen crackdowns on illegal behavior by companies, but complying with environmental legislation is also important for companies in terms of protecting their own image. Particularly for companies making and selling food and beverages, their close proximity to consumers makes tackling environmental concerns a priority issue.
Within Vietnam’s food and beverage industry, the rise of the beer industry has been particularly marked. In 2015, Vietnam’s beer consumption ranked 11th in the world (9th in 2014) and third in Asia behind China and Japan. Domestic production is also climbing steeply—up 10.3 percent year-on-year in 2015 and 9.3 percent in 2016—with beer emerging as a strong growth industry. In addition, while two state-operated companies account for 60 percent of domestic beer sales— SABECO (Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation)) 40 percent and HABECO (Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Joint Stock Corporation) 20 percent—the Vietnamese government has announced that it intends to sell all its shares in these two companies by the end of 2017, much to the interest of Western and Japanese beer producers.
With beer factories boosting production, their significant environmental impact makes it urgent that manufacturers understand the importance of complying with Law on Environmental Protection systems and train factory staff with a strong environmental awareness who can ensure regulatory compliance.
2. Overview of on-the-job training
In response to this situation, the Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST) and the Kinki Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry worked with Team E-Kansai (the Kansai-Asia Environmental and Energy-Saving Business Networking Promotion Forum) and the Global Environment Centre Foundation (GEC) to implement on-the-job training in environmental conservation technologies for engineers working in the factories of Vietnam’s swiftly-growing beer industry through a program entitled “Factory Human Resource Development in Environmental Conservation through On-the-Job Training in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”
Eliciting additional cooperation from the Japanese company Kirin Co., Ltd., the program aimed to raise the environmental awareness of engineers operating on the frontline in factories, etc., and teach them about specific environmental conservation technologies and environmentally-friendly production technologies, training industrial human resources involved in environmental conservation in a way that reflects industry needs, as well as to promote the local uptake of Japan’s outstanding environmental technologies, contributing as a result to the improvement and protection of Vietnam’s water environment.
The training was conducted October 25-27, 2016 in HABECO’s Me Linh factory with the cooperation of the Vietnam Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Association (VBA) and Team E-Kansai. With HABECO’s HQ factory needing to shift out of Hanoi into the suburbs in the near future, the Me Linh plant is scheduled to take over as the company’s main plant.
Twenty-six personnel from HABECO, SABECO, and 13 factories and workplaces under the VBA umbrella took part in the program, following which the trainees noted the following points for improvement in their own factories as well as technologies, etc., which they want to introduce.
In relation to wastewater treatment, many trainees expressed an interest in the UASB treatment method (Note 3); ways to deal with tighter wastewater regulations, and particularly COD, phosphorus and color measures; and the introduction of cleaner production (Note 4). In particular, the biogas generated through UASB treatment is closely related to by-product use and energy-saving, but with incineration the only method currently employed, reuse of biogas as energy still lies a way ahead.
In the area of by-product and waste handling, trainees were introduced to waste product separation and collection methods in factories along with examples of by-product use, and many factories noted that they want to look at adopting treatment and reuse methods for malt feed and waste yeast (surplus yeast). While trainees did not ask many questions on these topics during the program, the questionnaire survey conducted afterwards revealed that there was in fact strong interest.
When it came to energy-saving measures, newly-emerging regions tend to draw a straight line between energy-saving and the introduction of equipment, but because Vietnamese factories already have a lot of equipment in place (the factory in which the training was conducted, for example, was very modern even by international standards, and already had standard energy-saving equipment installed), it will be Japanese-style kaizen, or continuous improvement, that will make the real difference in the coming years.
Note 1: “The current status of environmental pollution in Vietnam, countermeasures, and environmental technology needs” (Ministry of the Environment, April 1, 2016)
“Trends in environmental laws and regulations in the amended Law on Environmental Protection” (entering into force on January 1, 2015), etc.” (JETRO Hanoi Office, March 2015)
Note 2: “Massive numbers of fish die in north-central Vietnam due to wastewater from a steel plant being built by a Taiwanese company—Pledge to pay US$500 million in compensation” (JETRO Daily, JETRO Hanoi, August 8, 2016)
Note 3: A new energy-saving and highly-efficient anaerobic biological treatment technology which is optimal for high-speed treatment with compact equipment using anaerobic microorganisms.
Note 4: This aims to build production systems with a minimal environmental burden by reducing environmental risks, conserving natural resources, eliminating toxic materials, and making technological improvements, saving energy and lowering production costs.
(original article : Japanese)