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I read some­where that, con­cern­ing selec­tive sort­ing of waste prod­ucts, Euro­pean coun­tries could­n’t man­age to agree on col­or codes for the trash bins. So, in prac­ti­cal terms, they final­ly decid­ed to label them “Turkey”.

By boat­loads, by full trucks, the bins of plas­tic waste you sort­ed out so care­ful­ly, arrive, tens of thou­sand of tons upon tens of thou­sands of tons…in Turkey, for more than half of them.  In offi­cial figures,20 times more waste than in 2016 have crossed the Turk­ish bor­ders from Europe in 2020.

Ger­many, although already export­ing some to its Pol­ish neigh­bor, is well posi­tioned, just as are the Unit­ed King­dom and France, to name only those three.

The var­i­ous tax­es paid all along the plas­tic pro­duc­tion chain for recy­cling, usage and col­lect­ing, are thus used to trans­fer the waste onto Turk­ish shores.

I would love to know the famous CO2 coef­fi­cient for those fleets , pro­duced out of your tax­es, and cashed in by the spe­cial­ized com­pa­nies who prof­it from them.

Does this mean that Turkey holds some kind of secret con­cern­ing recy­cling ? No more than Mal­ta, in the most recent news, but it has more space in the long run, to get rid of the garbage, against cash pay­ments, the same way it already applies the same rules to stock­ing migrants Europe does not val­ue either.

A mar­ket. It’s a mar­ket, this indus­try that lays the guilt on you when you stock a few cen­tiliters of water in a plas­tic bot­tle to go on a walk. It does not hes­i­tate to show you seas of plas­tic, but hides the smok­ing boats ship­ping your “ges­ture for the plan­et” toward the burn­ing trench­es here and there, in Turkey. I find you’re look­ing green­ish around the gills, all of sudden.

I know that this traf­fic is noth­ing new, unfor­tu­nate­ly, and is total­ly legal on paper. Chi­na, and coun­tries in Asia and Africa have slow­ly been clos­ing their doors and their ports. Turkey so hap­pens to have plen­ty of busi­ness­men always gung-ho when it comes to entre­pre­neur­ship. Since prox­im­i­ty and short routes are all the fash­ion at the moment, Turkey has become Euro­pean when it comes to plas­tic. By push­ing back the piles of garbage we already had, these “entre­pre­neurs” have made room in which to cre­ate “recy­cling centers”.

Judg­ing by the smoke and the smells so many coun­try peo­ple com­plain about, ille­gal dumps are mul­ti­ply­ing in which the labels do not speak Turk­ish, and giv­en the con­di­tion of streams that are already rare, one can eas­i­ly reach the con­clu­sion there’s a prob­lem some­where. Alarms have been sounded.

A minute por­tion of these tens of thou­sands of tons of plas­tic refuse is tru­ly recy­cled, we know that now. To such an extent that the port in Izmir  found itself with  refuse accu­mu­lat­ing that had been turned down by their con­signees because it was not of “required quality”.

Watch it, you are not sort­ing in the right way!

plastic waste

Pho­togra­phie: Caner Özcan — Green­peace Turkey

Asso­ci­a­tions have been sound­ing the alarm and Green­peace has become involved. 40% of Great Britain’s plas­tic refuse, increased by Covid, is said to have arrived in Turkey.

Nihan Tem­iz, project man­ag­er for the bio­di­ver­si­ty project at Green­peace Mediter­ranean, based in Turkey, declared that 241 truck­loads of plas­tic refuse arrive each day from Europe into Turkey. This is how I heard about it. And this is how by search­ing a bit, I real­ized  this has been going on for sev­er­al years and is increas­ing, amid the deep­est  of silences from the “green industry”.

And thus, Turkey is accused of ille­gal­ly burn­ing or bury­ing what is in fact  garbage speak­ing Eng­lish, Span­ish, French, Ger­man, Swiss (?).

And since I wrote ear­li­er that prox­im­i­ty was in fash­ion, I also feel like adding that the only ones who need protest against this eco­log­i­cal crime dis­guised in green, are not the ones who already have their hands full with the regime’s repres­sion. You, Euro­pean ecol­o­gists, must not shut the lid on the bin with­out ask­ing what the des­ti­na­tion of its con­tent will be.

I only hope that when Euro­pean tourists show up on our beach­es – I would per­son­al­ly pre­fer that they boy­cott them – will not cast asper­sions on us for the “filth” of the sea and the inhab­i­tants in Turkey.

It is your job to take care of those groups and boss­es who, from Europe to Turkey and vice-ver­sa have orga­nized this legal traf­fic in the man­ner of “sweep­ing the dust under the car­pet” by pay­ing for this as they did for years towards oth­er des­ti­na­tions, well cam­ou­flaged behind the “recy­cling” logos. In any event, the oth­ers over here are in the cor­ri­dors of the pow­er and ben­e­fit ful­ly from the regime’s cor­rup­tion. Thus, they are the usu­al opponents.

I would like to end with a thought for poor Gre­ta on whom this three card monte is being played with garbage bins. I would like to tell her: “The bean is under the bin with a cres­cent on it.”

A video on this top­ic: HERE. (In French and German)

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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