Transitioning Towards Plastic Circularity: Vietnam's New Upstream Future

By the Ida C. and Morris Falk Foundation in collaboration with Evergreen Labs Advisory Company Limited
21/03/22
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    This white paper is Vietnam’s first discussion on circularity with a focus on upstream innovation as a sustainable path to mitigate plastic waste and pollution. With a growing economy and high consumption of plastics, Vietnam is in a pivotal transition towards circularity.

    Aimed at transforming the plastic system in its entirety, circularity and in particular upstream innovation has been developing in Vietnam thanks to the emergence of innovators, entrepreneurs, and support ecosystems. This can be attributed to the recent global awareness surrounding circular economies and plastics pollution but more specifically, Vietnam’s large contribution, both cause and response, to this burgeoning issue regionally. The Vietnamese domestic market provides various opportunities for upstream products, and sustainability-focused customers, are actively seeking out such solutions. Yet, the number of solutions available on the current market remains limited. With the extensive market opportunities, improving regulatory and enabling environment, and shifting consumer mindsets, Vietnam has tremendous potential to pave the way for plastic circularity in Asia.

    Through this research, an emerging ecosystem of innovators who are pioneering waste-free living including plastic replacements, new materials, and reuse models has been discovered. Of 45 identified solutions, material circulation dominates (accounting for 71%), consisting of substitution and composting models. Agro-waste material alternatives also stood out by leveraging the rich agriculture industry of Vietnam. The limited number of reuse and refill models signifies the newness of these models with its potential operational challenges in the context of Vietnam such as logistics cost, corporate engagement, and brand partnerships.  

    The white paper has also highlighted the gaps in the current ecosystem in order to inspire change within current actors as well as encourage new intermediaries to step in and successfully support budding upstream innovators in Vietnam. In order to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and build an overall thriving ecosystem, intermediaries need to get inventive in their approaches to offer practical, tangible support backed by in-depth market insights to genuinely guide innovators. Similarly, collaborative support for students during discovery and incubation is also required for building successful upstream innovations in Vietnamese universities across all lifecycle stages and subcategories of innovation. Lastly, it was evident throughout this research that there is a mismatch between the needs of entrepreneurs and the demands of funders. Funders must get more creative in deal funnel development and become more collaborative with other intermediaries in order to be successful in this developing sector.

    All ecosystem players must adapt and evolve to provide better support services for upstream entrepreneurs to thrive and innovate. This white paper serves as a call for all stakeholders to shift their mindsets when entering a new era of design, business creation, and entrepreneurship. 

    Read and download the full White Paper here:

    About the Authors:

    The Ida C. & Morris Falk Foundation (ICM Falk Foundation) is a private, 501c3 family foundation that seeks to support innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership that drives positive, equitable, and sustained impact for the world’s communities and ecosystems. Building on the global commitment to the Circular Economy, the Foundation is now actively focused on the design and development of innovative solutions that contribute to the reduction of waste and pollution within Asia.

    Evergreen Labs, established in 2016 and headquartered in Da Nang, Vietnam, is a purpose-driven, creative business lab solving pressing social and environmental challenges in emerging markets. With a team of future changemakers, Evergreen Labs innovates towards practical, targeted and localized solutions, whilst striving to push the boundaries of business towards triple bottom line and circular economy models.