• +856 (0) 21 267 777
  • info.la@undp.org
  • +856 (0) 21 267 777
  • info@la.undp.org

Plastic Pollution issues come at a cost.

Number of Single Use Plastics in Vientiane Just Only in 4 Wet Markets Per Year


Less Plastic = Happy Earth

We live on a planet where there might be more plastic bags than fishes in the oceans. A recent news article revealed microplastic can even exist inside a women's womb. From the deepest trenches, where plastic candy wrap can be found, to the highest peak of the tallest mountain, where used plastic bottles are scattered around the summit, single-use plastic has become an inescapable part of our daily lives that, if left unchecked, could threaten our very existence. We use it for its cheap cost and convenience, from wrapping our meals to storing our rubbish. We overuse it, take it for granted, and still know little about its multidimensional consequences.
In Laos, disposal of municipal solid waste is one of the major environmental problems. Waste is a problem for more than just a town; other suburbs, villages and households are afflicted by the same problem. Vientiane itself, home to more than 900,000 people, produces more than 600 tons of waste daily.

Maintenence and Trash Collection

Trash is collected by the municipality only if you have a contract, and it comes at a price. Businesses and homes without contracts – that account for about 70 percent of the population in Vientiane – throw their trash anywhere and everywhere: in heaps by the roadside, in open spaces and fields, and sometimes straight into the Mekong River.
According to the Vientiane City Office for Management and Services (VCOMS), only 27 percent of the city’s population had contracts for waste collection in 2018. This presents a major challenge, as pollution from garbage affects the air, soil and water, which in turn affects public health.
The Mayor of Vientiane and city officials raised waste management as a priority when our Accelerator Lab team met with them. The directive was clear: study the city’s waste management system, zero in on the challenges, and come up with solutions.

Accelerator Labs

In 2019, UNDP built the world’s largest and fastest learning network “Accelerator Labs” to learn and address sustainable development challenges in new ways. We started with 60 lab teams covering 78 countries and are now expanding to 90 Labs covering 114 countries. In the same year, UNDP Lao PDR also officially launched the Accelerator Lab to address development challenges in the country. Waste Management is among a few frontier issues which the Lab has been working on. There have been ongoing study and experiments with both government and non-government partners to find new solutions or approaches to address the issues.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the Lab captured an interesting trend. It was evidenced that the use of food delivery services had increased significantly. In the period of less than two months, Go Teddy and Food Panda in Laos estimated the number of online orders grown from roughly between 100-200 to around 1,200-2,000 orders per day.
Moreover, the number of local restaurants and small shops registered on both platforms have also multiplied three folds from 50 in January, to 150 in May 2020. From some observations and studies in other countries, the plastic consumption trend has increased especially households have created an increasing amount of plastic waste from food delivery since the lockdown. Therefore, the Accelerator Lab in Lao PDR is keen to test sustainable model with GO Teddy. The objectives are

i. understanding more about plastic packaging in restaurants and food delivery business.

ii. understanding more about consumer behavior towards more sustainable packaging options.