Less waste is going to waste thanks to the Zero Waste initiative launched by first lady Emine Erdoğan in 2017, according to the latest figures. Minister of Environment and Urban Planning Murat Kurum announced that the country recycled some 24.2 million tons of paper, plastic, glass and organic waste, giving them back to the economy.
The minister said in an interview that 16.5 million tons of paper, 4.1 million tons of plastic, 1.7 million tons of glass, 0.4 million tons of metal and 1.5 million tons of organic waste were recycled by various facilities licensed by his ministry.
The Zero Waste Project aims to increase Turkey’s recycling rate to 35% by 2023, while creating employment for some 100,000 people in the recycling industry and saving $2.3 billion (TL 20 billion) yearly. It found huge interest both in the public and private sectors, though it is not as prevalent as the authorities expected. Kurum says they want to spread it to the entire country within the next two years.
“From public sector agencies to municipalities and industrialists, a lot of people and institutions back the project and are rapidly adopting it. We set an application calendar with new regulations, and since last year, issued zero waste certificates to those switching to this recycling model,” Kurum noted.
The government has provided training for 12.5 million people on zero waste practices so far while some 100,000 public institutions, as well as some municipalities, have switched to zero waste policies – from cutting off the waste to properly sorting it at its source for recycling purposes.
Turkey uses about 10 million tons of glass, plastic, aluminum and metal packaging every year according to figures, and Zero Waste is viewed as instrumental to lower these numbers, especially at a time of fighting against climate change.