Türkiye - 3.7 Waste Management and Recycling Infrastructure Assessment 


Türkiye generates about 30 million tons of solid municipal waste per year; the annual amount of waste generated per capita amounts to about 400 kilograms. According to Waste Atlas, Türkiye's waste collection coverage rate is 77%, whereas its unsound waste disposal rate is 69%. While the country has a strong legal framework in terms of laying down common provisions for waste management, the implementation process has been considered slow since the beginning of 1990s. 

The management of municipal waste is under the responsibility of municipalities as a regional management approach. 

The municipal waste is collected on a regularly scheduled basis. 

Türkiye's waste management system is not a priority policy area. The country regardless employs several waste management practices including sanitary landfills, incineration (only for hazardous waste), sterilization, composting, and other advanced disposal methods such as pyrolysis, gasification as well as plasma. The most common method of waste disposal in the country, especially for municipal waste, is landfilling. The municipal waste is collected on a regularly scheduled basis. The metropolitan municipality and other municipalities are responsible for providing collection, transportation, separation, recycling, disposal and storage of waste services. 

Türkiye uses a diffuse approach to manage waste by distributing duties and powers among many institutions and organizations. 

Legal framework 

Waste management in Türkiye is subject to numerous environmental laws. The country had only three laws concerning waste between 1983-2003, whereas ten more regulations were introduced between 2003-2008. Most environmental regulations in Türkiye are based on Article 56 of the Constitution, which states: 

It is the duty of the State and citizens to improve the natural environment, to protect the environmental health and to prevent environmental pollution. 

—  Article 56 

Turkish Law on Environment no.2872 creates the basis of the legal framework for waste management practices in Türkiye: 

It is prohibited to discharge all sorts of waste and residue directly or indirectly into receiving environment, storing them or being engaged in a similar activity. 

—  Article 8 

In addition, Law on Amendments in Law on Environment no.5491 (Article 11); Law on Metropolitan Municipalities no.5216 (Article 7); and Municipal Law no.5393 (Article 14 and 15) explain the duties of municipal authorities, whereas Law on Municipal Revenues no. 2464 (Article 97) establishes the polluter-pays principle. Finally, Articles 181 and 182 of the Turkish Penal Code no.5237 (under the section "Crimes Against the Environment") state that intentional pollution of the environment is punishable by law up to five years in prison. The degree of the punishment is decided upon the severity of the pollution and impact on the environment. 

Government efforts 

According to the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, the management of municipal waste is under the responsibility of municipalities as a regional management approach by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization. Since 2003, municipalities are implementing municipal waste management projects by cooperating with other municipalities in the region (through the municipalities union). Turkish government drew up a master plan for 2007- 2009 based on the recognition that uncontrolled and unsafe waste disposal is an integral part of daily life in Türkiye and poses a serious risk to the environment and to the health of the country's 70 million inhabitants. The number of controlled landfill sites was raised to roughly 3000 - a steep increase on the 90 that existed in the 1990s. As of 2011, there is approximately one sanitary landfill site per municipality. 

Ongoing initiatives towards improving the municipal solid waste management in Türkiye aimed to set up a waste management system acting in accordance with the related national legislation and EU legislation, covering the establishment of necessary waste treatment facilities (pre treatment facilities and landfills) and transfer stations, reduction of the amount of waste, ensuring recycling and reuse, and reducing the waste transportation costs. 

Uncovered landfills are potential sources of flammable biogases, carcinogen and toxic waste, as well as microbial diseases. 

Lack of public and sectoral environmental consciousness is a problem in Türkiye. 

Waste mismanagement practices 

The main question in the field of waste management is not the legal arrangement itself; but the deficiencies in implementing them. While Türkiye uses a diffuse approach to manage its waste, the effectiveness of application process has been negatively affected due to repetitions and gaps in sharing roles and responsibilities among different agencies. This situation, coupled with insufficient institutional capacity and weak technical infrastructure, limits the ability of related legislation to direct the implementation. Türkiye is also yet to develop a comprehensive and specific national strategic plan on waste management. 

Eurostat data indicates that Türkiye did not recycle any of its municipal solid waste between 2001-2010, although poor reporting, not performance, was given as the cause for the absence of data. The Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization reports the total amount of recycled packaging waste in 2009 to be 2.5 million tonnes, and certainly part of this recycled packaging waste is from MSW sources, but the share is unknown. Out of the approximate 30 million tonnes of municipal waste generated in 2010, 25 million tonnes or 84% were collected and about 98% of this collected waste was landfilled either in sanitary landfills (54%) or dumpsites (44%). 

As of 2013, Türkiye imposes no landfill tax. According to The Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, EU Landfill Directive (99/31/EC) will be carried out by 2025 

Impact of poor waste management 

The biggest problem in terms of waste management in the country stems from uncovered landfills, where the garbage is simply left to rot. Türkiye's waste financing system does not take into consideration the polluter-pays principle sufficiently, so economical tools are weak to deter pollution and financial sources are inadequate for investments. Usage of natural areas (forests, seasides etc.) still causes a great threat to the environment. In addition, insufficient capacity for treatment and disposal of hazardous waste leads to illegal dumping to the nature. Furthermore, recycling rates are poor due to the lack of adequate facilities and incentives in the waste sector. Uncovered landfills remain to be potential sources of flammable biogases, carcinogen and toxic waste, as well as microbial diseases due to the inadequate changes on their status since 1990s. Along with poor funding and reporting, recycling sector in Türkiye also suffers from poor environmental consciousness on both public and industrial level. 


Hazardous Waste Disposal 

Efforts for the reuse and recycling of hazardous waste often focuses on waste that requires simple technologies for collection and disposal. The most striking example of this could be recycling barrels and silver. Waste markets are established under the chambers of commerce, by Union of Chambers of Commerce and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) with the support of MOEF, in order to reduce the amount of industrial waste and allow their reuse.

As of 2008, there are 3 disposal facilities in Turkey for hazardous waste through incineration. Capacities of these facilities are inadequate in meeting the needs of industry. Except these, a pilot scale facility which received license for recycling hazardous wastes through gasification with a capacity of 29.000 tons/year is put into operation in Istanbul. Moreover some cement factories are accepting hazardous wastes as alternative fuels for purposes of energy recovery. Due to technological inadequacy of stack gas treatment systems in cement factories in eliminating stack gases that are produced as a result of hazardous waste incineration, these factories are only able to accept certain types of wastes. Among these are used tires, I. and II. category waste oils, paint sludge, solvents, plastic wastes etc. Energy recovery license is being distributed to allow the use of hazardous waste in cement kilns as an alternative fuel with 24 facilities already in possession of this license. Some of the hazardous wastes are also exported to be disposed in incineration facilities abroad.

Production industry in Turkey is annually producing more than 20 million tons of waste. Approximately 1.12 million tons of this amount is made up of hazardous wastes. 8% of this amount is being recovered, 47% is being disposed and 45% is being reused.

Approximately 80% of the established capacity of 6 facility licensed by Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF) for the disposal of industrial waste is currently in use. 5.586 tons of ash and slag coming from incineration facilities are disposed in sanitary landfills.

Provision of services by hazardous waste facilities in regions of high population density and high industrialization rates in Turkey is advantageous both in terms of costs, utility, and to keep the environmental loads at minimum.


Non-Hazardous Waste Disposal 


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