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Drive to Recycle Domestic Waste in Turkey

Turkey is planning to introduce legislation making it compulsory for the nations recovery sector to meet half of its material needs from the domestic market

Turkey is planning to introduce legislation making it compulsory for the nation’s recovery sector to meet half of its material needs from the domestic market.


Murat Kurum, Turkey’s minister for environment and urban planning, announced the measures on the 31st August 2020. He said: “We will prevent the import of high amounts of waste and create employment opportunities for our thousands of employees in the sector with the latest regulation that will enable us to meet the raw material needs of our recycling sector from our own resources.”

The legislation in place now requires Turkish importers to apply for an import permit with details of recycling capacity and imports to date. Additionally, they will need proof of supply from at least 3 different domestic suppliers. For the remainder of 2020, they will also only be able to accept up to 50% of their reported capacity as imports.

Some concern has been raised as to the speed of the introduction of the legislation, as Turkey’s recycling industry relies heavily on imports of material, which may not be met initially by the domestic market.

Exports to Turkey

As of 2018, Turkey imported a staggering 226,449 tonnes of plastic waste from abroad, according to data compiled by UN Comtrade, making it one of the top 10 importers of plastic discarded by foreigners.

Prior to China introducing a ban on the imports of plastic waste in early 2018, Turkey was importing less than 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste per month. After China shut its doors, plastic waste import to Turkey shot up to 33,000 tonnes a month and settled back to around 20,000 tonnes a month by mid-year.

Speaking in a video interview to, Mr Erjan Yurekli, who is vice president of TUDAM, Turkey’s National Recycling Organisation, explained that one of the causes of the requirement by Turkey’s Environment Department to use more domestic material is as a result of the sending of waste with recycling from the UK.

Zero Waste

The drive to move away from a reliance on domestic markets and focus on collecting domestic waste may be part of Turkeys zero waste campaign, launched in 2017, which has already seen the use of single-use plastic bags reduce by 80%, with an ambitious goal of making the country waste-free by 2023.

Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging at Clarity Environmental, felt the changes were a positive step that will ensure continued steps to improving the global recycling standards.

“The waste industry is a global market, with many countries relying on import and export of materials to recycle. As we have seen over the past couple of years, the restrictions upon quality and volumes of waste are becoming tighter around the world, which is excellent progress both environmentally and for the global waste industry.

As many countries strive to move their economies closer to circular models, this drive to improve infrastructure and quality of materials can only help to improve and innovate within the sector.”

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