Plastic bag usage in Turkey has dropped by 50 percent since Jan. 1, when retailers began charging for environmentally damaging plastic bags, Turkey's environment and urbanization minister said Friday.
"Just a four-day practice reduced the use of plastic bags by as much as 50 percent," Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said at the "Raising Awareness in the Scope of Environmental Legislation" meeting held in the Ankara Chamber of Industry.
Turkey's target is to reduce plastic bag usage per person - which is currently 440 annually - by 90 percent to 40 by 2025, Murat Kurum said.
Around 30 billion-35 billion plastic bags are used in Turkey annually, he noted.
Kurum said an important regulation has been enacted with regard to recycling waste and charging for plastic bags and expressed his gratitude to the relevant parties for the support of the citizens, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and parliamentarians in this process.
Kurum added: "We need to go back to using net bags. We encourage industrialists and manufacturers to make promotions."
The main goal is not earning money from the plastic bags but to prevent ecocide, or massive ecological destruction, the minister underlined.
Plastic bags are sold for TL 0.25 ($0.05), of which TL 0.10 consist of factory cost and TL 0.15 for environmental projects.
Kurum said, "Income from plastic bags will be used for several environmental projects such as bike and pedestrian paths, noise barriers and wastewater treatment facilities."
Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade, according to the Mind Your Waste Foundation.
The foundation said that as many as 5 trillion plastic bags are produced every year worldwide, only 1 percent of which are recycled.
Turkey also has a zero-waste project, led by first lady Emine Erdoğan, to reduce the volume of nonrecyclable waste.
A recent survey conducted by the Turkish e-commerce giant hepsiburada.com revealed that the demand in the market net bags increased by 154 percent in December, compared to the same period of last year. The highest demand came from Istanbul, according to the data, followed by İzmir, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Kocaeli, Muğla and Balıkesir.
Instead of paying TL 0.25 per unit on every purchase, using canvas bags, which are easier and more practical to carry and store, comes to the fore as an important factor contributing to the family budget.
Net bags are among the most popular products as an environmentally friendly alternative for the transport of fruits and vegetables as well as for packaged foods bought from the market instead of plastic bags.