Workshop on Environment-Friendly Production, Responsible Consumption and Effective Recycling held with UNDP participation.
The “Time to Act for Plastic Waste in Turkey: Workshop on Environment-Friendly Production, Responsible Consumption and Effective Recycling” was held in Istanbul. Attention was drawn in the workshop to the fact that the Mediterranean, an environmental heritage, became a sea with highest plastic pollution in the world. It was emphasised that civil society, academia and national & local governments should collaborate for more intelligent and sustainable plastic production. Meeting in the workshop organised by Boğaziçi University in cooperation with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN Turkey) and WWF Turkey, stakeholders in the plastics sector discussed problems, projects for awareness-raising on plastic waste, and principles of work for positive change.
The workshop started with the opening remarks from Prof. Dr. Üstün Ergüder, the former Rector of Boğaziçi University; Etienne Gonin, Programme Analyst from UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub, and Nergis Yazgan, WWF Turkey President and CEO. The striking results were publicised for the first time of the report “Out of Plastic Trap: Saving the Mediterranean from Plastic Pollution” published by WWF Turkey across the Mediterranean. Presented by Tolga Yücel, Communications Director of WWF Turkey, the report “Out of Plastic Trap: Saving the Mediterranean from Plastic Pollution” reveals that 60 million tonnes of plastics are produced and 27 million tonnes of plastic waste created every year in the world. The report emphasises that the plastic waste quantity in the seas tops the list of most important problems that call for global solutions, and plastic waste causes 13 billion dollars in damage to marine ecosystems. It also notes that 144 tonnes of plastic waste go to sea daily in Turkey.
The workshop also discussed the likely contributions from civil society, academia and national & local governments for more intelligent and sustainable plastic production. Konca Çalkıvık, Secretary-General of the Sustainable Development Association said: “Every minute, a truck-load of plastic waste is dumped into seas. Every year, 9 million tonnes of plastic waste is released to oceans. It is not possible to resolve the global issue of plastic waste without local-regional cooperation.” Çalkıvık underlined that voluntary basis would not suffice for the solution, legal regulations would be needed. Ahmet Varır, Head of Department of Waste in the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization said: “We must switch from the linear economy to the recycling-based circular economy” and noted that Turkey produced 31 million tonnes of domestic waste annually, 12% of which consisted of plastic waste. He indicated that the deposit system and various waste prevention plans should be included in priorities, reminded that the private sector had no waste prevention plan except for a few large organisations, and made a call to the private sector. He alerted that the current waste collection activities were not effective or sustainable, and emphasised that Turkey must switch from the linear economy to the recycling-based circular economy.
Varır informed that under the “Zero Waste” project initiated by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization aiming to facilitate the sorting at source of waste, they were able to achieve 15% of recycling to date and aimed to reach 35% in recycling by 2023. He said: “While these rates are low, they are 15 times higher than the figures in the 1990s.”