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Turkey is awash in plastic waste

Christian Fernsby ▼ | April 23, 2020
With China no longer willing to take in plastic waste created abroad, Turkey emerged as one of the main countries to pick up the slack.
Plastic waste
Plastic waste   Turkey is the second-largest manufacturer of plastic in Europe after Germany
Every year Turkey throws out millions of tonnes of plastic and its waste collection system can only deal with a fraction of it. The rest is either burned, buried or dumped.

Topics: Turkey

And yet, 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.

In December the Turkish government announced a restriction on garbage imports to limit the volume of waste entering the country. Under the new laws, companies must also cut their waste imports by 20 percent.

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

Turkey is also responsible for about a fifth of all plastic leaked into the Mediterranean, said the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Activists question why Turkey is importing plastic from other nations when it struggles to manage waste it produces.