Turkey, EU discuss joint efforts to reduce waste traffic

The European Union and Turkey are in contact to tackle the problem of waste traffic around the world, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey, said Thursday.

“This is an issue that needs to be urgently solved. The European Union is currently developing a strategy on this issue and is working on steps to decrease this waste traffic,” he said while speaking at a climate summit at the Congresium Ankara ATO International Convention and Exhibition Center.

“In order to achieve this, we have to work together with the countries concerned.”

Turkey last year banned the import of polymer waste such as plastic bags and styrofoam cups following a public outcry over images of trash illegally dumped and burnt along roadsides.

The vast nation of 84 million people has turned into a prime destination of European waste.

A report published by Greenpeace last year said Turkey has turned into the main recipient of British waste after China banned the import of many types of plastic in 2017.

“EU member states exported 20 times more plastic waste to Turkey in 2020 than they did in 2016, with the volume increasing from 22,000 tons to 447,000 tons,” the Greenpeace report said.

Eurostat data shows Turkey received nearly a quarter of the plastic waste exported by EU nations in 2019.

“We have to change this pattern of waste being shipped around the world,” Meyer-Landrut added.

The ambassador elaborated that one of the areas the EU is working on is reducing the amount of waste by focusing on material that can be reused or ensuring that equipment is made in a way that lasts longer. Reducing packaging material is one of these steps, he added.

“If we want to reduce waste, we have to start by reducing products that do not go in the garbage immediately.”

The world’s first Economy and Climate Change Summit (Eko Iklim) kicked off in the Turkish capital Ankara where climate change and green transformation issues top the agenda.

In accordance with the European Union Green Agreement and the Paris Agreement, Turkey is faced with a 60 billion euro ($66.63 billion) “carbon tax” burden until 2053.

The summit, which was held as carbon neutral, was attended by heads of states, representatives of public institutions, more than 20 international institutions and organizations, academics from more than 30 universities, municipalities, organized industrial zones, technopolises and sector representatives.

Clean energy financing, the transformation of the industries in line with the global green policies and global strategies were among the topics to be discussed during the event. The event also elaborated on the carbon emission reduction policies, their economic effects on climate change efforts and policies of the governments.

Visitors had the chance to observe Turkey’s first domestic, fully electric car, several companies, including companies in the defense sector, efforts and works on climate, zero waste and green transformation, fashion created from sustainable, recyclable material as well as the 100% electric buses of the Ankara metropolitan municipality. The event featured exhibition stands, fashion shows and concerts.

Meyer-Landrut further spoke on Turkey ratifying the Paris climate deal, saying that it was a welcome step and that there are several areas in which Ankara and Brussels can work on.

Turkey, which became the last country in the G-20 group of major economies to ratify the Paris climate agreement, seeks to cut emissions. It currently ranks 14th among the countries with high greenhouse gas emissions, according to Global Carbon Atlas. The climate deal it ratified requires countries to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve a “net-zero” emission goal by 2053.