The production of raw materials from plastic waste is a key issue Turkey should focus on for its economic well-being and the planet's future, according to a top engineer in Turkey. "Producing new goods for consumers and gaining value from plastic waste at every stage of recycling will notably reduce our country's current account deficit arising from the plastics industry," said İlkim Yiğit, head of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers in the capital Ankara. The extraction of raw materials from plastic waste can lower energy consumption by 70%, air pollution by 30% and water pollution by as much as 70%, she argued. Stressing how significant waste management is to the economy, Yiğit said waste that is not separated at its source triggers additional costs and a need for labor.
Separation at the source refers to the practice of setting aside post-consumer and household waste materials in households to prevent them from entering the waste stream that is destined for landfills. Establishing such a waste management system will benefit the economy and help the environment by reducing the imports of materials and recyclable waste. Yiğit said Turkey currently has 715 waste-sorting and 1,135 recycling facilities, most of them dealing with plastics. Yiğit said data on plastics production can be tracked through an official portal run by the Environment and Urbanization Ministry. According to this portal, around 3 million to 3.5 million tons of plastic were produced in 2018, over half were plastic bottles, while around 55% of total plastic products in the market are recycled. Turkey's Zero Waste Project, introduced last December, improved waste management and gave a sharper and more effective responsibility to producers and consumers, said Yiğit.
"Changes in the law, such as charging a fee for shopping bags, applying a deposit fee to drink bottles, and recycling contributions from producers, may lead to positive developments in the environment," she said. Yiğit said the deposit system for bottles will encourage people to recycle waste so that they don't go to waste and also don't pollute nature. Turkey's Zero Waste Management System aims to cut the volume of non-recyclable waste as well as hold public institutions, organizations and city governments with populations of more than 250,000 responsible for waste management by 2020.