Istanbul — Turkey's plastics industry wants the government to ban recyclable plastics from landfills by 2025, mirroring what the PlasticsEurope trade group is pushing European Union governments to do.
The Turkish Plastics Industry Foundation, or Pagev, said the ban would help the environment by reducing littering.
But equally or perhaps more importantly, it sees a ban as an economic boost by helping to jump start recycling and providing new sources of plastic in a place heavily dependent on imported raw materials.
Pagev made the declaration at a Dec. 3 conference with leaders of the Brussels-based PlasticsEurope association, held on the sidelines of the Plast Eurasia 2015 trade show in Istanbul.
Pagev called for the government to “enforce a ban or phase out of landfilling of recoverable waste to stimulate resource efficiency, further develop the plastics recycling industry and create more jobs.”
“It's important for Turkey because if you recycle you import less material, and Turkey imports 80 percent of its [plastic] materials,” said Yavuz Eroglu, president of the Istanbul-based Pagev.
Any plans would have to be phased in gradually because Turkey needs time to develop its recycling infrastructure, he said, but it wants the government to move in that direction.
PlasticsEurope's proposal would allow plastics to be used in waste-to-energy facilities in addition to traditional recycling, and the group argues that landfill restrictions both increase recycling and energy recovery.
It said a landfill ban is need to “provide the legal certainty” for investments in waste management infrastructure.
Recycling is becoming a larger issue for Turkey's industry in other ways as well.
The country's plastics trade associations are currently fighting government restrictions, enacted in early 2015, which limit imports of some recycled plastic materials.
The new government requirements do not allow imports of some recycled granules, and that could cause problems for local plastics processors that depend on reprocessed materials, said Yagmur Cengiz, technical coordinator for the Istanbul-based Pagev.
For example, recycled material can save money manufacturing pipes and other products for the agriculture industry, she said.
And molders that supply Europe's auto industry sometimes are required to supply parts with a specified percentage of recycled content, Cengiz said: “If they could not find the material in Turkey, some of the companies say they could lose some projects.”
The industry has to fight perceptions that the recycled materials are hazardous or dangerous, said Jale Filiz, a project specialist with Istanbul-based Turkish Plastics Industrialists' Association, or Pagder.
“We should import the recycled materials to produce new materials,” she said. “They are as raw materials for us, not hazardous.”