Education is key when it comes to recycling efforts and thousands of schools have signed up to teach children how to protect the environment and recycle. Minister of Education Ziya Selçuk announced that some 32,000 schools in Turkey sought involvement in zero waste, a project under the auspices of the Presidency and first lady Emine Erdoğan. The government oversees implementation of the project to reduce waste, presumably to zero, by employing various methods, from converting waste into compost to discouraging the use of plastics. Selçuk says students, their parents and teachers in 81 provinces are being educated on zero waste and they monitor adherence to the project at schools. He pointed to a huge interest in the project from school administrations.
The project, which started in 2017 and was embraced nationwide in two years, was first applied at the Beştepe Presidential Complex and ministries, later spreading to municipalities country wide and taking hold in private companies and public buildings, from hospitals to schools.
Currently, over 18,750 public institutions are included in the project, separating waste at its source.
The minister said they cooperated with an environmental organization to raise awareness of zero waste and educate more than 58,000 students in the capital Ankara on how to reduce waste or recycle it. Waste separation units were set up in 32,000 schools, and the Education Ministry cooperates with the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, which oversees the project. Like other agencies involved in the project, the ministry will use the Integrated Environment Data System that allows agencies, ministries, companies, etc. to check the number of units, amount of waste dumped in units and types of waste for better implementation of zero waste policies.
Turkey, late to the recycling trend and efficient waste management except in big cities, strives to end landfills whose numbers have considerably decreased in recent years. The country has started to prioritize waste management, over concerns of rising environmental damage, with municipalities responsible for garbage collection upgrading their waste management systems.
The country also managed to recycle more than half of the plastic bottles in the market in 2017. Turkey also seeks to spread compost-making equipment used in businesses for converting food waste to compost for home use.
The country, which lags behind European Union countries in terms of recycling, aims to increase the recycling rate to 35% in the next five years.
Since its launch, the project has helped recycle 126.1 tons of paper and cardboard, prevented the cutting of 2,142 trees, while 49 tons of plastic waste were recycled, saving 798.7 barrels of petroleum; 25.5 tons of raw materials were saved by recycling 8.7 tons of glass waste and 11.5 tons of metal waste, while 3.7 tons of compost were produced from 9.1 tons of organic waste and used to grow vegetables and fruits.
Additionally, biodiesel was produced by recycling waste vegetable oil, mineral oil was produced by recycling waste motor oil, and raw materials were produced by recycling electronic waste. Turkey also saved 807,341 kilowatt-hours of energy, 3,528 cubic meters of water, 1,490 cubic meters of storage space and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25.6 tons.