Turkey Bans Most Plastic Waste Imports, Penalises 32 Businesses



The Minister of Environment and Urbanisation of Turkey, Murat Kurum, reported on 19 May that Turkey will remove the entry of polyethylene plastic among other polymers that are allowed into the country for recycling from 3 July.


The decision was taken after the emergence of images showing that imported plastic waste was lying in water sources and fields in Adana, southern Turkey, raising fears of widespread pollution.


Having said that Turkish goals for recycling are 'very high', Minister Kurum announced that Turkey will seek to increase its rates of recycling -at 19% currently- up to 35% by 2023 and 60% by 2035. The minister also underlined the fact that the quota for waste imports were brought down to 50% at the beginning of the year, forcing plants' need for raw recycling materials to be supplied from the Turkish market itself.


Kurum reported that after the images, the ministry ran inspections on 152 recycling plants, stopped the operations of 29, fined 32 plants for 8 million Turkish liras, and that official complaints were filed for those causing environmental pollution.


The minister also stated that any ethylene polymer waste would be tracked by the 'Mobile Waste Tracking System', which will then lead to the expulsion of these wastes from Turkey.


According to reports, the waste that was found lying on the sides of the roads and in fields were mostly imported from the United Kingdom, Poland, Germany, and several other European Union Member States.


Issuing a statement on the most recent developments, Greenpeace stated that while Turkish ban on ethylene polymer products was a 'milestone', such products need to be recycled within a month so that they do not become un-recycleable. The group also urged the source countries to recycle their waste in their own countries.


The decision of Turkey to ban the entry of ethylene polymer is indeed a critical decision in the country's recycling campaign as the product is highly pollutive and hard to recycle. In addition to this decision, the move to decrease the imported plastic waste and increase national recycling rates will help the developing Turkish industry to become more self-sufficient on raw materials and energy sources. It is also important to note that the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation is closely tracking the entry of illegal waste to Turkey, in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade. ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) welcomes the most recent decisions of Turkey in this regard and we always seek to connect with more partners on the issue of recycling through our Working Groups on Green Deal and Circular Economy.


Source: Republic of Turkey Ministry for Environment and Urbanisation Newsroom