Turkey tightening rules around domestic recyclers

The Turkish government is expected to clarify rules and restrictions around the import of plastic wastes later this month with the introduction of measures such as stricter regulatory criteria for the country’s plastics recycling plants.

This will come as exports of plastics remain a contentious issue, with some UK recycling exporters reasoning that the export of suitable waste plastic material should continue while other recyclers as well as campaign groups, such as Greenpeace, arguing that it should not be sent abroad.

The Turkish government is to tighten rules around plastics recycling: pictured is the Parliament building in Ankara (picture: Shutterstock)

And, the Environment Agency has revealed that so far this year it has prevented “the illegal export of 104 containers of plastic waste to Turkey”.

The clarification on import measures in Turkey will come in the wake of the Turkish government agreeing on 10 July that polyethylene waste could be imported again. Earlier this year the country banned the import of mixed and engineering plastic waste imports.

Then on 18 May, polyethylene wastes were also placed on the import exclusion list.


However, sources in Turkey’s plastics recycling sector explained to letsrecycle.com that after “serious discussions” with government officials, the policy was revised and the polyethylene wastes placed on the “allowable import inclusion list” again on 10 July.

Turkey’s government is expected to introduce new regulations around waste import licenses. It appears likely that they will reduce the number of companies who can import waste plastics to better control the import of materials along with restrictions, extra rules and facility criteria.

Turkey is developing its plastics recycling infrastructure; pictured is a bottle collection point in Manavgat (picture: Olga Bugro, Shutterstock)


The UK’s Environment Agency spokesperson told letsrecycle.com: “We are liaising with the Turkish authorities to understand their waste plastic import restrictions. We expect all waste producers and exporters to be aware of and comply with import regulations in all destination countries before waste is shipped.”

The Agency has also said that if businesses are struggling to find outlets and think there is a risk that waste “will stockpile beyond allowable levels” then they should discuss the issue with their local Environment Agency team.

With more effort paid to ensuring rules around the export of waste material for recycling, the Agency in 2019-20, stopped 1,889 containers at English ports. “This prevented the illegal export of 463 containers, comprising 22,688 tonnes of waste,” Agency sources indicated.


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