Industrial designer Yasemin Kose of Roka Design, says the recycling sector in Turkey truly began to develop in 2017 with the start of the Zero Waste Project. TRT World talks to her about the country's waste management.

Yasemin Kose’s Istanbul-based firm, Roka Design, focuses primarily on recycling systems. The industrial designer has been providing companies with recycling bins and containers for the past few years.

Her university masters thesis was called "Unused Waste Recovery with Industrial Design." She graduated from the Industrial Design Department from Istanbul Technical University and went on to publish her thesis as an ebook in February 2016.

Kose says she is personally troubled by the subject of waste. “Everybody should be responsible for their waste and live with this awareness,” she adds. “I have grandparents who have seen scarcity during war times and my parents have always been cautious about not wasting anything. They have valued all materials and used them well. So since I was a child I have had this awareness of not being wasteful.”

Kose believes that world resources have to be used efficiently, and that waste materials are as significant as source materials. It was in 2009 that Roka began to be formed, but it wasn’t until 2016 that it achieved brand status. Today, it offers user-focused design with recycling units and waste bins, and is a business that wants to increase awareness about waste products.

Kose says Roka’s aim is to create a sustainable environment by respecting the needs of today and tomorrow, while contributing to the continuity of the harmony of human and nature.

The founder of Roka Design, Yasemin Kose.
The founder of Roka Design, Yasemin Kose. (Ebru Yildiz / Courtesy of Roka Design)

Recycling has been at the forefront of Turkey’s conscious efforts for a while, and it gained speed after Turkey’s First Lady, Emine Erdogan, focused her attention on it.

For the last couple of years, Erdogan has been leading the country’s zero waste project, which aims to reduce the volume of non-recyclable waste.

Turkey aims to save $20 million annually and raise employment by implementing the zero waste project, Erdogan stated on December 10, 2019.

“I hope that we will accomplish spreading zero waste project all around Turkey in 2023,” she commented during her speech at Turkey's largest defence firm Aselsan’s Zero Waste Project Launching Ceremony in Ankara.

The government website that dedicates itself to this battle, says it is “a goal defined as waste management philosophy that involves preventing the wastage, using the resources more efficiently, reviewing the reasons for waste formation, preventing or minimizing waste formation, and collecting and recovering waste at the source separately.” 

The site gives concrete projection numbers, asking, “What to earn with 31,000,000 tons of waste per year?” It says this translates into 42 million trees, 585 million kg fewer greenhouse gases, 69 million cubic metres less water usage, 20 billion kWh lower energy use, and a total of 13 billion TL ($1.7 billion) annual value added.

Asked if recycling is important for Turkey and if it has made strides, Kose says the sector began to develop in 2017 with the start of the Zero Waste Project. “It is becoming more important day by day,” she notes. “Every day there are more firms that are developing products, technologies, services in this area.”

Kose also mentions some standards being put in place. As an example, she cites the Zero Waste Management System Guides published by The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning.

“Every day the recycling sector is developing,” Kose notes. “Before the 2017 Zero Waste Project, there wasn’t even a colour coding system for waste in our country.”
“Turkey is good about recycling waste products, but it cannot reach capacity for separation and collection. So unfortunately it imports waste. Yet still, recently, at the beginning of September, there were some limits imposed on this,” she adds.

According to AA, The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning has issued a circular, reducing waste import quotas by 30 percent to 50 percent. With the 50 percent quota, half the recycling sector’s yearly demand for raw material will have to be met by the local Turkish market.

“Everybody finds a solution to separating their waste in the neighbourhood they live in, but most people don’t have enough information,” Kose points out. “They can call their municipality’s waste/recycling hotlines and find out about the system used in their area for recycling, and send their waste to be recycled.”

“Most people lack information, and a lot of recyclable goods end up going to trash sites as waste products,” she concludes.

Source: TRT World