Outlining the government's plans on environmental protection by 2023, the centenary of the Republic of Turkey, Minister of Environment and Urbanization Murat Kurum said all beverages would be sold in deposit bottles by that year.
Addressing an event in the southern city of Antalya yesterday, Kurum said they would also expand a lauded "zero waste" project that boosts recycling and reduces random waste dumping. "The zero waste project will be implemented in the public and private sector by 2023 and will help us save TL 20 billion yearly," he said. The zero waste campaign launched by first lady Emine Erdoğan under the auspices of the office of the Turkish Presidency has gathered a lot of momentum in less than a year. The campaign, which aims to boost recycling, helped Turkey shed its former image as a country that turns a blind eye to the pollution problem. The campaign has received nationwide support as it raised public awareness on proper sorting of waste and use of waste as compost in agriculture. Turkey's recycling drive saved more than 30 million trees between 2017 and 2018. More than 1.7 million tons of paper waste and cartons were recycled.
The minister said they were also determined to keep up the fight against plastic bags. In a landmark move, Turkey enacted a law that ordered businesses to sell plastic bags for a fee instead of giving them for free. The law, which went into force on Jan. 1, is credited with a large decline in the number of plastic bags, which remains one of the major pollution threats to nature. Kurum says that his ministry will also endorse municipalities to establish waste recycling centers and spread those centers all across Turkey within four years.
Turkey also plans to expand its network of bicycle lanes in a bid to reduce emissions from motor vehicles. Kurum said they would create a network integrated with Europe's EuroVelo, a network of 15 long distance cycle routes connecting the continent. "Bicycle lanes will be available from Edirne in the northwest to Aegean and Mediterranean shores and central Anatolia, in key tourism destinations," Kurum added. There are more than 22 million vehicles in Turkey where driving is the most popular means of transportation. On the other hand, a lack of proper bike lanes, especially in big cities, is a challenge to promoting a cycling culture. Building bike and walking lanes will be mandatory in new zoning plans for cities.