The first Global Goals Action Award of UNDP Turkey goes to the Zero Waste Project of the country

March 25, 2021

Photo: Levent Kulu. Ms. Şahika Ercümen, UNDP Turkey Life Below Water Advocate, H.E. Emine Erdoğan, First Lady of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Claudio Tomasi, Resident Representative of UNDP in Turkey. The award presented to the First Lady is a piece of art created by glass artist Ms. Hande Erbük. The piece has been created as a representation of the Earth’s fragility and has been formed by reusing and recycling glass and metal pieces.

“Zero Waste Project", launched in 2017 under the auspices of First Lady Emine Erdoğan, received the first Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) Action Award of UNDP Turkey for its considerable contributions to the goal “Responsible Consumption and Production”. The project aims to contain waste under sustainable development principles, leaving a clean and developed Turkey and a liveable world to future generations.

Ankara, 25 March 2021 - Claudio Tomasi, the Resident Representative of UNDP in Turkey, presented today the first Sustainable Development Goals Action Award of UNDP Turkey to the First Lady with a ceremony in Ankara, for the considerable contributions of the Zero Waste Project to the achievement of the goal “Responsible Consumption and Production”. The project was launched back in 2017 under the auspices of First Lady Emine Erdoğan.

12th of seventeen Global Goals for Sustainable Development, the goal “Responsible Consumption and Production” aims to substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse by the year 2030, among others.

For the year 2023, the centenary of the Republic of Turkey’s foundation, by operating “Zero Waste Management System” in 400,000 buildings, the Zero Waste Project targets 35 percent recovery rate, which is the proportion of waste recycled among all the recyclable materials in the waste stream.

As of 2020, Zero Waste Management System was launched in 76,000 buildings belonging to organizations and institutions. Recovery rate, which was 13 percent at the beginning of the project, reached 19 percent.

Between 2017 to 2020, the project helped save 397 million tons of raw material, 315 million kilowatt-hour of energy, 345 million cubic meters of water and 50 million barrels of oil. In the same period, 17 million tons of usable waste was collected, 2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions were prevented, and 209 million trees were saved by the project. The economic savings attained with these actions are calculated 17 billion liras (over 3 billion dollars). The project aims direct employment for 100,000 people, 20 billion liras of annual saving.

“Zero Waste” is a goal defined as waste management philosophy that involves preventing the wastage, using the resources more efficiently, reviewing the reasons for waste formation, preventing or minimizing waste formation, and collecting and recovering waste at source separately.

Zero Waste System is a seven-step roadmap developed by the Turkish Environment and Urban Planning Ministry, consisting of steps that companies, institutions or organizations should apply to be included in Zero Waste movement.

To better protect the seas and coasts of Turkey from the wastes, Zero Waste Blue Project was also launched in June 2019 within the same project. So far 760 leading organizations pledged to fight pollution of the seas by participating in the Zero Waste Blue project.

“Zero Waste Project is a small step in the responsibility of leaving a livable world to future generations. We hope to make this effort more efficient with the cooperation of our public and non-governmental organizations.” highlighted Emine Erdoğan, speaking at the event.

“Nature is a friend entrusted to us. Just as treating to a friend, humans must behave in the same way to nature. But unfortunately, the effects of industrialization have transformed this understanding, as in the whole world. As the consumption society expanded, environmental problems increased. Modern human alienated from nature and even attempted to dominate it. What we need today; is to close the distance between us and the nature - that has become “the other”. It is to regain his friendship. We share the universal values of organizations that offer global solutions, such as the United Nations. We try to contribute to these values with our cultural experiences,” added Ms Erdoğan.

The presidential complex was the first to switch to a zero-waste scheme and it was followed by ministries. Since 2017, thousands of public buildings have joined the campaign with recycling almost all the waste they produce, from paper to food.

In presenting the award, Claudio Tomasi, the Resident Representative of UNDP in Turkey, highlighted the importance of this project that promotes the efficient use of finite resources, curb and elimination of waste by prevention, minimization, reuse and separation at the source for better recycling and recovery. Tomasi said “Economic sustainability cannot be achieved without true environmental sustainability”.

"Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources. Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is extremely important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production. Our goal is to create a society that produces and consumes responsibly. We will produce, but the products we produce must also be recycled. Waste must be minimized. I think this is how we come closer to be a zero-waste society. With just 9 years left, we are in a period in which we need to engage in maximum action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic urges everyone to work together towards a better recovery, keeping the SDGs as our compass for transformative action. Transformation is possible and every individual action matters. We must make 2021 a turning point for people and the planet. In order to succeed, we need bold, ambitious plans and we must take action quickly and decisively now.” he said.

In late 2020, Turkish government set up an Environmental Agency, which will operate under the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization.

The agency aims at improving the environment and maintaining the Zero Waste project, launched by the ministry to collect and dispose of wastes effectively.

The agency will establish and operate waste management systems, ensuring the involvement of relevant departments and streamlining their working in line with the environmental strategies and policies formulated by the ministry.

Turkey uses about 10 million tons of glass, plastic, aluminium and metal packaging every year according to figures and plans to increase the recycling rate for packaging to 65 percent by 2026.

For details on the Global Goals:

For more information: Faik Uyanık, Head of Communications for UNDP in Turkey,