"Area cleaning," as it is called in military jargon, is every conscript's traditional duty in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), and soldiers adhere to a morning routine of cleaning almost every square meter of military bases they are stationed at. Turkey's ambitious zero waste project aims to make the garbage picking job an effective, energy-saving and profit-generating task.
Around 40,000 Turkish soldiers have received training as part of the "Zero Waste Program" initiated by First Lady Emine Erdoğan, while the new waste regulation system has been integrated into all military units, the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday.
The project championed by the First Lady and supported by Şule Akar, the wife of Defense Minister Hulusi Akar at a ministrerial level, has taken off with the creation of temporary waste storage spaces, where garbage will be stored to be handed to authorized firms and municipalities to be sorted into paper, plastic, glass and metal for recycling.
The ministry has also prepared an exclusive film and published a guide promoting the zero-waste policy.
Compost machines have also been installed in the General Staff Headquarters, the Land Forces Communications Electronics and Informatics School and Training Center Command, the Turkish Military Academy, and more.
Waste from uncooked food leftovers is disposed of in these machines to be turned into organic fertilizers, which will then be used to boost the soil on the National Defense Ministry's campuses.
Some 20 tons of compost have been produced in the past six months, according to the ministry.
Besides the recycling initiative, the Zero Waste Project also aims to create healthy and sustainable dietary habits and provides training in this aspect.
Turkey's recycling drive saved more than 30 million trees between 2017 and 2018 and more than 1.7 million tons of waste paper and cartons were recycled last year and within the first three months of 2018.
In recent years, Turkey has started to prioritize waste management over concerns of rising environmental damage with municipalities responsible for garbage collection upgrading their waste management systems. Turkey also managed to recycle more than half of the plastic bottles in the market last year. According to official figures, out of the 236,000 tons of plastic bottles sold last year, 140,000 tons were recycled. In the first quarter this year, 17,500 tons of plastic bottles were recycled to be used again.
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