Waste management in Turkey: Where to dispose of household rubbish

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Grace Hillier

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If you’re living in Turkey, you may be wondering where to dispose of your household rubbish. 

Understanding waste disposal in Turkey can be a bit confusing, as the country has a complex waste management system. In fact a lot of waste from Europe is imported and sent to landfill in Turkey.

Understanding waste disposal in Turkey

If you’re living in Turkey, you’ll want to understand the waste disposal system to ensure that you’re disposing of your household rubbish properly. 

Types of waste

In Turkey, waste is typically divided into two categories: general waste and recyclable waste. General waste includes items such as food waste, diapers, and sanitary products. Recyclable waste includes items such as paper, plastic, glass, and metal.

Where should I put my household rubbish in Turkey? 

Unlike countries such as the US and the UK, Turkey does not allocate garbage bins to each house. Instead, each street has large bins that service all the houses in the area which are emptied regularly, sometimes several times a day – depending on where you live. 

In fact, along with the garbage trucks each morning come street cleaners who sweep the sidewalks and dispose of any rubbish on the street. 

Why is there rubbish on the ground in Turkey? 

It’s a good thing street cleaners come every morning, as you’ll often see garbage on the sidewalk by the end of the day. The laws are not quite as strict in Turkey as some countries like Australia where you can be fined for littering.

If you have ever visited Turkey, you have probably noticed the many stray cats and dogs roaming the streets, especially in big cities like Istanbul. And while adorable and a beautiful part of the Turkey experience, you must watch your step or you’ll step in poop. Thankfully, street sweepers clean the poop off the street each morning, so each day the streets start off clean.  

Waste disposal

Once waste is collected, it’s transported to a waste disposal facility. In Turkey, there are two types of waste disposal facilities: sanitary landfills and municipal landfills. Sanitary landfills are designed to prevent contamination of the environment and groundwater, while municipal landfills are designed for general waste disposal.

Landfills

Landfills are the final destination for most of the waste that is generated in Turkey. While it is not recommended to dispose of your household waste in a landfill directly, it is good to know where they are located. You can search for a landfill near your municipality if you need to dispose of large items or hazardous waste that cannot be collected by the municipal waste collection system.

Recycling in Turkey

Recycling is becoming increasingly important in Turkey, and the government has implemented various initiatives to encourage residents to recycle. 

Where do I put my recycling in Turkey?

Often all household waste in Turkish neighbourhoods goes into the same communal bin. However, this doesn’t mean that recycling doesn’t happen. Private waste collectors create businesses from walking the streets with their wheeled sacks and sorting recycling and selling it to recycling centres.

Having said that, you will occasionally find separate bins for recycling in parks, on street corners, and sometimes outside some grocery stores. More and more of these bins are being installed after Emine Erdoğan, wife of Turkey’s president, started the Zero Waste initiative in 2017. 

How can I recycle in Turkey if I can’t find a recycling bin?

Rather than putting all our household waste into one bag, we try to sort our garbage into separate bags to make it easier for the waste collectors to find our recyclable items. 

Some street corners have recycling bins, but the opening is small, so it means inserting each piece of recycling one a time. We have just noticed these bins and are planning on taking our recycling there. It’ll take a few extra minutes but appeals to us more than putting our recycling into the communal bin.  

What if I have large items, like mattresses and desks or building waste to be disposed of?

It’s not uncommon to see large items like mattresses simply stacked against the large communal bins. However, you can take mattresses and bulky items to a waste management facility and dump it for a fee. 

Recycling clothing in Turkey 

Large clothing bins are becoming more common and are generally installed next to the communal bins for household waste. This is a great way to not just dispose of old clothing responsibly, but to also donate to people in need. 

Where do I take items that I don’t need anymore?

You can sell second-hand household goods to antique stores or donate them to charity shops. Another option is to donate used goods to street sellers. They roam the streets with hand drawn carts selling second-hand items.

Recycling centers

There are recycling centers located throughout Turkey where you can drop off your recyclables. These centers are typically located in or near residential areas, and some supermarkets and shopping centers also have recycling bins. 

In addition to recycling centers, some private companies also offer recycling services. These companies typically provide collection services for businesses and households, and they may also offer drop-off locations for individuals. Some of the major private recycling companies in Turkey include Atık Yönetimi and İstanbul Çevre

Overall, while recycling in Turkey may not be as widespread as in some other countries, there are still options available for those who want to do their part in recycling.

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