4 Reasons This Sustainable Business Is Changing the Sustainability Landscape in Vietnam with it’s Eco-friendly Products

Explore the transformative impact of a sustainable business revolutionizing Vietnam’s sustainability landscape with eco-friendly products.

We recently talked to Jonathan Sourintha, co-managing partner at HRK Group.

With a dream of solving Vietnam’s plastic waste crisis, the company specializes in creating 100% biodegradable, compostable, and water-soluble biopolymers. Amongst their range of innovative solutions, products such as their biodegradable bag are being used as a worthy alternative to plastic. In the following post, Jonathan details the potential of HRK Group as a sustainable business, all the while providing the reasons why we need to start more seriously considering the choices we make today and the ramifications they have for our future. 

If you ever wondered why Jonathan, a native of France, cares so much about Vietnam and its environment, all you have to do is chart his life since he left home at 18. He traveled the world, learning about himself and various walks of life, all the while working in everything from the food & beverage sector, real estate, to construction work. Despite the breadth of his experience, it was his love for Vietnam and a desire to give back what it had given him that propelled him onto the path he walks on today–But how does one give back to a country?

Are You a Sustainability Professional? Become a Member of the World’s Only Digital Platform That Brings Impact Driven Individuals Together

For Jonathan, the answer had always been around him. Ever since arriving in Vietnam 15 years ago, he’s witnessed the rising economy and culture of consumption that has paralleled the collapse of the environment as a result of plastic pollution. Vietnamese oceans and beaches are no longer water and sand but made from plastic, while the grassy forest floors have become trash piles with their heaps of plastic cups and bags. It’s this stark reality that prompted him and those at HRK Group to begin searching for an alternative to plastic 6 years ago, only to realize there was little development in the field. Rather than balking at the task at hand, this led to the decision that they would be the ones to provide other businesses with eco-friendly products that might one day replace plastic packaging and single-use items. In hopes of shedding light on this dream, the following sections will provide four reasons why HRK Group is a sustainable business to look towards as a beacon of change. However, before getting into those, here are a few achievements the company has made so far.

Some of HRK Group’s Achievements:

  • Within 6 years of starting operations, HRK now owns a 400 sq meter logistics center, as well as two 4,000 sq meter factories

  • One of their factories has been valued at $13 million. 

  • Despite Covid restrictions, HRK has managed to tap into new markets including Japan, Korea, Australia, France, England, USA, China, Thailand, and Malaysia since February 2022. 

  • Developing the first water-soluble material Aquaflex made in Vietnam and the third in the world.

The Consumer Plants The Seed Of Awareness

When a business aims to better the world, it cannot do so on its own–It needs every bit of help it can get. This concept is the backbone of our first reason why HRK Group is a sustainable business to follow in Vietnam. 

There’s a hopeful statistic that states how today, 78% of consumers are concerned with plastic consumption and trying to reduce their use of such products. Numbers like this are promising, but Jonathan and the team at HRK understand that they mean nothing without proper action, both on the side of the business and the consumer. This is why the company believes in the concept of the butterfly effect, and how small actions can lead to great change. 

In the modern world, particularly in a country like Vietnam where only 5 – 9% of packages are recycled, the fight against plastic pollution seems an impossible battle. No matter how many biodegradable bags or alternatives to plastic HRK creates, none would make a difference without the help of the consumers. This is why there’s a belief at HRK about how every act is important. If a single person stops using a single straw or cup, that person will make a difference. If millions of people make that same decision, the results will be groundbreaking. It’s no wonder why Jonathan stresses the importance of the consumer in making plastic pollution stop. No matter how many innovations a company makes or how many policies the government passes, it’s all for nothing if everyday people never do their part.  

Vietnam’s First Water-Soluble Alternative To Plastic

Arguably, the area that has been most devastated by plastic in Vietnam is the ocean. Vietnam has been listed as one of the top five countries contributing to plastic waste entering the ocean, with an estimated 15,000 tons of marine plastic pollution produced everyday. Fully aware of the need to act now, HRK spent a lot of the Covid lockdown in research and development, leading to the production of the first biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, and water-soluble & marine-safe packaging in Vietnam. The eco-friendly product has a shelf life of up to five years and is also affordable. When this alternative to plastic was launched last year it was met with great feedback, proving once more why HRK Group is a model sustainable business to support. 

Advocating For The Future

One of the main reasons why Vietnam is one of the biggest culprits contributing to plastic waste entering the ocean is due to the fact that they have been so late to properly regulate/ban plastic use. However, this isn’t to say they haven’t started. Jonathan himself is part of a lot of plastic fighting groups and he believes the Vietnamese government really made a commitment to fight plastic during talks at last year’s COP 26. Progress has been quick, with an EPR law (extended producer responsibility) projected to pass next year that requires manufacturers to recycle part of the packaging they produce. On top of this, recycling rates and waste management taxes have also been set in place. 

RELATED READING: Sustainable Products & The Plastic-free Movement In Vietnam

If all that wasn’t enough, 2025 will see the first ban on plastics like foam boxes or bags in tourist areas. 2026 will take that a step further with a ban on said products throughout the country. While full regulations are still a work-in-progress, such actions point to a future Vietnam where eco-friendly products are the norm. Local and international brands such as L’Oreal, Cong Caphe, and Mega Mart are already onboard, with the latter having made the switch to biodegradable bags in contribution to this effort. 

The Price We Pay For Plastic

While there are more sustainable businesses nowadays than there have ever been, along with numerous eco-friendly products that are serving to better the environment, one roadblock that prevents a lot of companies from committing to sustainability is the belief that if they do so, they’ll be shifting the focus of their business and sacrificing the well-being of their company for the well-being of the environment. What HRK Group and similar companies understand is the fallacy of this, and how ultimately, the price we pay for something like plastic far outweighs any desired profit margins one might have. 

Today, plastic costs between $0.9 – 1.2 / kg. But really, there’s more to it than that. Plastic has to be collected, separated, treated, and recycled, all of which incur their own costs, whether monetary or not. This ‘tax’, if you will, could be spent on more important areas such as education, health care, or food sectors.

Irrespective of all this, however, the fact still remains: there is a fallacy around how sustainability sacrifices a business’s monetary gains for the greater environmental good. At the end of the day, if we keep on with our insatiable appetite for consumption that then leads to more waste than we know what to do with, there comes a point when how much money one makes means nothing. The price we pay for plastic then is not in dollars, euros, or yen–It’s in life itself.  

Give HRK Group a follow: https://www.hrk-group.com/

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.

4 Reasons This Sustainable Business Is Changing the Sustainability Landscape in Vietnam with it’s Eco-friendly Products

Explore the transformative impact of a sustainable business revolutionizing Vietnam’s sustainability landscape with eco-friendly products.

We recently talked to Jonathan Sourintha, co-managing partner at HRK Group.

With a dream of solving Vietnam’s plastic waste crisis, the company specializes in creating 100% biodegradable, compostable, and water-soluble biopolymers. Amongst their range of innovative solutions, products such as their biodegradable bag are being used as a worthy alternative to plastic. In the following post, Jonathan details the potential of HRK Group as a sustainable business, all the while providing the reasons why we need to start more seriously considering the choices we make today and the ramifications they have for our future. 

If you ever wondered why Jonathan, a native of France, cares so much about Vietnam and its environment, all you have to do is chart his life since he left home at 18. He traveled the world, learning about himself and various walks of life, all the while working in everything from the food & beverage sector, real estate, to construction work. Despite the breadth of his experience, it was his love for Vietnam and a desire to give back what it had given him that propelled him onto the path he walks on today–But how does one give back to a country?

Are You a Sustainability Professional? Become a Member of the World’s Only Digital Platform That Brings Impact Driven Individuals Together

For Jonathan, the answer had always been around him. Ever since arriving in Vietnam 15 years ago, he’s witnessed the rising economy and culture of consumption that has paralleled the collapse of the environment as a result of plastic pollution. Vietnamese oceans and beaches are no longer water and sand but made from plastic, while the grassy forest floors have become trash piles with their heaps of plastic cups and bags. It’s this stark reality that prompted him and those at HRK Group to begin searching for an alternative to plastic 6 years ago, only to realize there was little development in the field. Rather than balking at the task at hand, this led to the decision that they would be the ones to provide other businesses with eco-friendly products that might one day replace plastic packaging and single-use items. In hopes of shedding light on this dream, the following sections will provide four reasons why HRK Group is a sustainable business to look towards as a beacon of change. However, before getting into those, here are a few achievements the company has made so far.

Some of HRK Group’s Achievements:

  • Within 6 years of starting operations, HRK now owns a 400 sq meter logistics center, as well as two 4,000 sq meter factories

  • One of their factories has been valued at $13 million. 

  • Despite Covid restrictions, HRK has managed to tap into new markets including Japan, Korea, Australia, France, England, USA, China, Thailand, and Malaysia since February 2022. 

  • Developing the first water-soluble material Aquaflex made in Vietnam and the third in the world.

The Consumer Plants The Seed Of Awareness

When a business aims to better the world, it cannot do so on its own–It needs every bit of help it can get. This concept is the backbone of our first reason why HRK Group is a sustainable business to follow in Vietnam. 

There’s a hopeful statistic that states how today, 78% of consumers are concerned with plastic consumption and trying to reduce their use of such products. Numbers like this are promising, but Jonathan and the team at HRK understand that they mean nothing without proper action, both on the side of the business and the consumer. This is why the company believes in the concept of the butterfly effect, and how small actions can lead to great change. 

In the modern world, particularly in a country like Vietnam where only 5 – 9% of packages are recycled, the fight against plastic pollution seems an impossible battle. No matter how many biodegradable bags or alternatives to plastic HRK creates, none would make a difference without the help of the consumers. This is why there’s a belief at HRK about how every act is important. If a single person stops using a single straw or cup, that person will make a difference. If millions of people make that same decision, the results will be groundbreaking. It’s no wonder why Jonathan stresses the importance of the consumer in making plastic pollution stop. No matter how many innovations a company makes or how many policies the government passes, it’s all for nothing if everyday people never do their part.  

Vietnam’s First Water-Soluble Alternative To Plastic

Arguably, the area that has been most devastated by plastic in Vietnam is the ocean. Vietnam has been listed as one of the top five countries contributing to plastic waste entering the ocean, with an estimated 15,000 tons of marine plastic pollution produced everyday. Fully aware of the need to act now, HRK spent a lot of the Covid lockdown in research and development, leading to the production of the first biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, and water-soluble & marine-safe packaging in Vietnam. The eco-friendly product has a shelf life of up to five years and is also affordable. When this alternative to plastic was launched last year it was met with great feedback, proving once more why HRK Group is a model sustainable business to support. 

Advocating For The Future

One of the main reasons why Vietnam is one of the biggest culprits contributing to plastic waste entering the ocean is due to the fact that they have been so late to properly regulate/ban plastic use. However, this isn’t to say they haven’t started. Jonathan himself is part of a lot of plastic fighting groups and he believes the Vietnamese government really made a commitment to fight plastic during talks at last year’s COP 26. Progress has been quick, with an EPR law (extended producer responsibility) projected to pass next year that requires manufacturers to recycle part of the packaging they produce. On top of this, recycling rates and waste management taxes have also been set in place. 

RELATED READING: Sustainable Products & The Plastic-free Movement In Vietnam

If all that wasn’t enough, 2025 will see the first ban on plastics like foam boxes or bags in tourist areas. 2026 will take that a step further with a ban on said products throughout the country. While full regulations are still a work-in-progress, such actions point to a future Vietnam where eco-friendly products are the norm. Local and international brands such as L’Oreal, Cong Caphe, and Mega Mart are already onboard, with the latter having made the switch to biodegradable bags in contribution to this effort. 

The Price We Pay For Plastic

While there are more sustainable businesses nowadays than there have ever been, along with numerous eco-friendly products that are serving to better the environment, one roadblock that prevents a lot of companies from committing to sustainability is the belief that if they do so, they’ll be shifting the focus of their business and sacrificing the well-being of their company for the well-being of the environment. What HRK Group and similar companies understand is the fallacy of this, and how ultimately, the price we pay for something like plastic far outweighs any desired profit margins one might have. 

Today, plastic costs between $0.9 – 1.2 / kg. But really, there’s more to it than that. Plastic has to be collected, separated, treated, and recycled, all of which incur their own costs, whether monetary or not. This ‘tax’, if you will, could be spent on more important areas such as education, health care, or food sectors.

Irrespective of all this, however, the fact still remains: there is a fallacy around how sustainability sacrifices a business’s monetary gains for the greater environmental good. At the end of the day, if we keep on with our insatiable appetite for consumption that then leads to more waste than we know what to do with, there comes a point when how much money one makes means nothing. The price we pay for plastic then is not in dollars, euros, or yen–It’s in life itself.  

Give HRK Group a follow: https://www.hrk-group.com/

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.