Turkey bans most plastic imports

ANKARA: Greenpeace welcomed a ban by Ankara on imports of most plastic waste after the environmental group said it discovered exports, some possibly illegal, from Britain and Germany that created “mountains” of rubbish in southern Turkey.

The environmental group said its teams visited ten countries in Adana province and found plastic waste – most either burnt or on fire – mostly from the UK, Germany, Poland and other EU countries.

Plastics were left on the side of roads, in fields or spilled into water sources, she said in a report published Monday, with debris from UK supermarkets and German retailers found in all countries.

Turkey’s trade ministry said on Tuesday it had removed polyethylene plastic – used in shopping bags and many forms of packaging – from the list of polymers allowed in the country since July 3rd, formalizing a ban it had planned to introduce.

Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said customs would conduct ongoing checks to enforce the ban, which follows a block on mixed plastic imports.

While welcoming the ban, Murat Bakan, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told Reuters it was decided because the government could not properly oversee recycling.

Exporting plastic waste is illegal unless it is intended for recycling or incineration at a power conversion plant.

Goods made from polyethylene – including plastic shopping bags – need to be recycled quickly, usually within a month, otherwise they become non-recyclable, making them illegal if exported mixed with standard non-recyclable materials, Greenpeace said.

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