Turkey can generate 650 million euros from recycling: Activist
Mesude Erşan – ISTANBUL
Recent improvements in Turkey’s environmental policies have finally given the green light for a more sustainable future for the country, but if the country can increase its waste recycling rate to 60 percent, it could lead to an industry generating 650 million euros of revenue and creating many jobs, according to an activist.
“We are not sufficiently aware when it comes to recycling. Packaging wastes are binned with domestic wastes. This eliminates the possibility of recycling. If we can increase our waste collection rate from 20 percent to 60 percent, economic value added is projected to reach 656 million euros annually,” Tahsin Korkmaz, the general coordinator of Evaluable Waste Materials Industry Association (TÜDAM), has told daily Hürriyet.
Most of the packaging wastes are disposed by burial, according to Korkmaz.
“Turkey misses out on the value added of wastes by ignoring the significance of waste economics, and thus is left behind in this sense,” he said.
Many developed countries of the world have already adopted “circular economic models” based on recycling and zero-waste principals in a bid to minimize the environmentally hazardous parameters the industrial developments have brought along, according to Korkmaz.
“European Union member countries provide value added to their economies by collecting 78 percent of their wastes,” Korkmaz said.
According to data provided by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), there are 1,698 waste disposal and recycling facilities in Turkey currently.
About 55 percent of Turkey’s wastes are organic, according to Baran Bozoğlu, the head of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers.
“Organic wastes are basically food leftovers. We can produce electricity from them,” he said. “The biggest problem regarding waste collection in Turkey is that we do not collect the materials separately,” he added.
“The most important thing people can do is to separate their recyclable wastes and hand them over to the collection facilities of municipalities. The municipalities are obliged to collect packaging wastes separately in accordance with the Regulation on Packaging Waste Control, and we must remind them of these duties,” said Mete İmer, the General Secretary of Environmental Protection and Packaging Waste Recovery and Recycling Foundation (ÇEVKO).
“With the ‘Zero-Waste Project,’ realized by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife Emine Erdoğan, 2.2 million tons of packaging wastes, 58,000 tons of electronic gadgets and 80,000 tons of mineral wastes were recycled,” İmer said.
By 2023, the recycling rate is aimed to reach 35 percent, he stressed.
“This rate will provide employment to 100,000 people and generate 20 billion Turkish Liras [around $3.7 billion] of revenue,” İmer underlined.