Turkey bans plastic waste imports following Greenpeace investigation

Turkey is set to place a ban on imports of ethylene polymer plastic waste, according to reports, following a Greenpeace investigation which found waste imported from the UK dumped illegally.

The Turkish trade ministry has added ethylene polymer plastics – which includes plastic film and bags and containers for shampoos and detergents – to its list of waste materials that are illegal to import. The ban will take effect in 45 days.

Nihan Temiz Ataş, from Greenpeace Mediterranean, based in Turkey, told the Evening Standard: “We have been campaigning for years to stop enormous quantities of plastic trash coming to Turkey and making us Europe’s largest plastic waste dump.

“It’s around 240 truckloads every single day. The plastic trash overwhelms our struggling recycling system, gets into the environment and is burned, creating harmful smoke.

“We are very happy that the minister for environment is taking action to protect the health of our environment and our citizens.”

We are very happy that the minister for environment is taking action to protect the health of our environment and our citizens

The Greenpeace report featured photos of grocery packaging in piles of burning and smoking plastic in southwestern Turkey.

Greenpeace investigators documented piles of plastic waste ‘dumped illegally by the roadside, in fields or spilling into waterways and floating downstream’.

It said in many cases the plastic was on fire or had been burned and that plastic from the UK was evident at all of these sites.

It included packaging and plastic bags from seven of the top 10 supermarkets, Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, as well as other retailers such as B&Q, Debenhams, Poundland and Spar.

Alongside the report’s release, Greenpeace called on the UK Government to enact the Environment Bill, and use the powers within it to ‘ban all plastic waste exports’, not just to non-OECD members.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), the trade body representing the UK’s resource and waste management industry, said the reports from Greenpeace were ‘deeply disappointing’ and that that the resources sector needs ‘deeper government support’ to stimulate and increase the capacity of domestic recycling and reprocessing.

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