The growth of a country is decided not when the incomes are better or the firms make more profits, but only when it has enough resources to sustain and a plan to implement alternatively. We have reached that stage of globalization when we have to mindfully make use of our resources so that we don’t pose a threat to the survival of our next generation.
Many countries invest in sustainable development conserving water, learning ways to reduce pollution, and recycling various types of wastes. Turkey is one among such nations. In the world, the solid waste amount is predicted to reach about 3.4 billion tons in 2050 and within the next two years, Turkey itself will have an annual 38 million tons of only household waste, about 10% of paper waste, and 6% of plastic waste.
The Zero Waste Project found under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment & Urban Planning, is expected to expand across the entire Republic of Turkey, by 2023.
The Zero Waste project was initiated by Emine Erdogan, First Lady, in 2017 and is working with full force since then. Emine is one of the top 10 most influential Muslim figures and has been nominated for International Price Award.
Her vision concerning the implementation of the project in the agriculture sector was to be able to create a better technique to make use of byproducts and reduce wastage generated. Before this, the EBRD had launched a Near Zero Waste program for all industries. The hierarchy involved around it was Disposal of waste, Energy Recovery, Recycle, Reuse, and Prevention of wastes.
When the pilot scheme of the Zero Waste Project kicked off in Konya and Karaman provinces, about three tons of non-hazardous waste and 400 kilograms of hazardous waste were collected, of which the first type was recycled and was transformed into raw materials. These raw materials could produce flower pots, furniture, buckets, industrial fiber, drain pipes, car spare parts, etc. The hazardous waste was repurposed as alternative raw material.
In recent times, Turkey has prioritized waste management over global concerns of rising environmental damage, pollution, etc. The municipalities responsible for garbage collection have started upgrading their collection systems. The Parliament has also done its duty by establishing an environmental agency to coordinate the recycling work. A bill has been approved.
The authorities encourage the recycling of agricultural byproducts like hay, cobs, stems, plastic waste, etc among other things. The plan is to start the process of recycling from the time the seed is planted to harvest so that waste is recycled in each step. Waste collected from the pilot scheme was able to prevent about 117 kilograms of greenhouse gas and saved 16500-kilowatt hours worth of electricity.
A zero-waste management system was encouraged in association with the “1000 Farmers, 1000 Blessings” scheme. Farmers enrolled in the project are given special training, taught the use of digital agriculture tools, and are given consultancy service as and when needed. By 2030, the project targets to reach about 10 million farmers.
Not only that, the health of the agricultural fields is monitored via satellites as a backup. Developmental maps are created based on the data provided by the satellites to get the current state of the plant’s growth. This information about fields is also provided to the farmers at a later stage for inspection and to acknowledge them.
The Zero Waste Project helped Turkey fight climate change and prevent greenhouse gas emissions of up to 2 billion tons, saved around 209 million trees from being destroyed, saved about 315 million Kilowatts per hour of energy, up to 345 million cubic meters of water. It also saved 50 million barrels of oil from consumption and about 397 million tons of raw material by simply recycling materials.
With the aim of a go-green policy, Turkey is heading towards a planned sustainable development. Allocating separate bins for different kinds of waste is soon to be introduced in educational institutions, shopping malls, hospitals, and factories. For decades, the practice of carelessly dumping waste is being significantly addressed to and the country is moving towards its goal of increasing the recycling rate to 35% in the coming two years' time. This also opens the door of employment for about 100,000 people and will surmount to an increase in the annual revenue of the country. Thus, by taking such an initiative, Turkey has proved to become a role model for many other developing nations.
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