Mitsui O.S.K. eyes picking marine plastic waste by ship off Vietnam

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. has said it aims to start a new project as early as the summer of next year that involves collecting plastic waste by ship in the sea off Vietnam, one of the world's major producers of marine plastic trash.

The major Japanese shipping company said it will conduct feasibility studies for about a year from this summer in the Southeastern Asian nation in coordination with the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Mitsui O.S.K. is also eyeing a collaboration with the Vietnamese government.

The company vowed in a press release to "establish a locally tailored marine debris collection system using marine debris collection ships through this JICA-backed project."

Mitsui O.S.K. said it may expand its marine waste collection business to other areas.

The on-site feasibility studies will include examining how much plastic and other marine debris can be picked up, as well as where and how to build a dedicated vessel for the project.

The Vietnamese plastic industry produced 8.89 million tons of products in 2019, contributing an estimated $17.5 billion to the country's economy that accounted for 6.7 percent of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

Meanwhile, up to 730,000 tons of plastic made on land became marine litter in Vietnam in 2010, out of 4.8 million to 12.7 million tons pouring into the ocean across the world, a private estimate showed in 2015.

The figure was the fourth largest in the world following China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

"Vietnam's geomorphic characteristics, especially its long north-south coastline, make it more susceptible to debris flowing into the ocean, and the volume of waste is increasing along with rapid urbanization," Mitsui O.S.K. said.

"Thus, the nation's marine debris issue becomes more serious every year."

In Japan, two commercial ships with a marine garbage collecting system co-developed by firms including Mitsui O.S.K. are currently operating, the company said.

© Kyodo News