'Zero waste' initiative expected to bring in $3.7 billion annually

Published 04.01.2019 19:57
Updated 05.01.2019 08:00

The policy of "zero waste" environmental management is expected to have an economic value of approximately TL 20 billion ($3.69 billion) if it is applied across the whole of Turkey.

Industrial organizations, shopping malls, schools and hospitals need to adapt to the program this year. The year 2019 is one of the most critical in the zero-waste management program, one of the most comprehensive environmental, economic and health programs in Turkey. According to the draft regulation, all waste that can be decomposed and recycled at any waste source will be recycled.

The program will be compulsory for shopping malls, organized industrial zones, hotels, some educational institutions and public institutions. The organizations involved have to prepare their infrastructure and adapt to the system this year, while municipalities also have to align their infrastructure for recycling and recovery.

Turkey has created the capacity to process solid waste, especially plastic, glass and paper. However, since waste collection is limited in the country, waste is being imported to use this capacity. Moreover, since China, the world's largest importer of waste, has reduced the purchase of some waste for environmental and health-related concerns, Europe's exports to the country have started to switch to Turkey.

According to Evaluable Waste Materials Industry Association (TÜDAM) data, it is estimated that annual plastic waste imports soared to 205,000 tons in 2017 from 55,000 tons in 2011, while waste paper imports reached 750,000 tons. It is also estimated that waste plastic and waste paper imports amounted to 128 million euros (nearly $146 million) and 236 million euros, respectively, over the last five years. The program has been launched to increase the recycling of waste and to reduce their environmental impact and regular and irregular storage.

According to the draft regulation, municipalities have been entrusted the main role in waste-recycling processes. Municipalities, which are already responsible for industrial waste management in Turkey, will thus undertake more comprehensive responsibility for non-industrial waste as well. While district municipalities play a major role in industrial waste, metropolitan municipalities will be given additional responsibilities, namely to collect waste and to create the collection infrastructure. They will establish a waste collection center for every 250,000 people.

For source-separated waste, municipalities will create a double waste collection container called "solid recyclable" and "unrecyclable" according to population and distance. Containers will be set up for waste such as glass, plastic and electronics.

The draft regulation has also determined box colors. Thus, boxes, containers and signs will be "blue" for packaging, "brown" for organic waste, "green" for glass and "gray" for other waste.

Institutions and organizations that are obliged to establish a waste management system and obtain certificates in 2019 include municipalities, airports, ports, marinas, bus stations, coach stations, shopping malls, organized industrial zones, education institutions, public institutions, industrial organizations, four- and five-star hotels and health institutions with more than a 50-bed capacity.

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