Plastic recycling sets 4.3 million ton goal by 2030

Workers sort plastic waste at a facility in Kuşadası, Aydın. (IHA Photo)

The plastic recycling sector raises the bar in plastic recycling as recycling efforts gather pace in Turkey. Selçuk Gülsün, head of the Plastics Industrialists' Association (PAGDER) says the current total capacity of recyclers is at 850,000 tons and with steady growth, it will reach 4.3 million tons in 2030.

The number of licensed recyclers stands at 1,039 and they employ more than 350,000 people, Gülsün told Anadolu Agency (AA). He says the sector is vital for the Turkish economy and also boosts exports. "For every one unit of import, the plastic scrap sector exports even units," he said. Last year, 436,000 tons of scrap plastics were imported for $116 million and a large portion of imports were converted into plastic raw material and products and exported, bringing in about $770 million in revenue.

Gülsün says a large amount of packaging waste was collected by unregistered collectors on the streets in Turkey and they were rarely processed or classified, creating a raw material deficit, adding this deficit is compensated with scrap imports.

The zero waste project launched in 2017 aims to raise awareness on recycling and is being widely adopted by the public and private sectors. Gülsün says the more the project spreads, the amount, quality and sustainability of recyclable waste will increase. Global plastic consumption is 370 million tons annually and Gülsün said it is expected to exceed 1 billion tons in 2050. "The fledgling global recycling sector is estimated to meet about 60% of demand in 2050. He pointed out that investments in the recycling sector in countries like South Korea, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Australia and the United States gained momentum in recent years and Turkey shows a similar trend. "With the current growth, we will reduce our deficit stemming from plastic raw material imports 35.1% in 2030," he said.

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