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UN General Assembly accepts Turkiye’s zero waste resolution

The United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 14 has unanimously accepted a resolution regarding the “Zero Waste” presented by Turkiye, declaring March 30 as International Zero Waste Day.

The resolution, which mainly emphasizes the “Zero-Waste” project initiated by Turkish first lady Emine Erdoğan to reduce the volume of non-recyclable waste, was presented with the other 105 countries.

Accordingly, the U.N. chief will set up an advisory board committee comprising of experts selected based on their knowledge, experience and expertise to introduce zero waste initiatives on a national scale and worldwide.

This board will continue its duties on waste recycling for three years.

In addition, in order for member states to be able to implement and support zero waste initiatives on a national scale at different scales, a ground will also be created for scientific discussion of recycling practices.

According to this resolution, it was also recommended to the U.N. chief to add a “section dedicated to zero waste initiatives” to the organization’s Environmental Program, including other projects related to recycling.

Within the scope of the regulation, it was advised the U.N. will hold a one-day high-level meeting in New York during the 77th session of the General Assembly in 2023, where environmental problems, climate crisis and recycling issues will be discussed.

The first lady received the World Bank’s first-ever “Climate and Development Leadership Award” for the pioneering role she assumed in the fight against climate change with her Zero Waste Project in July.

The project is held by the coordination of the Environment, Urbanization and the Climate Change Ministry and is effectively implemented in many public institutions across the country.

Accordingly, Erdoğan and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres signed a declaration of goodwill for the global promotion of the project in September.

Guterres called on U.N. member countries to expand the project globally, as environmentalist projects are “among the most important issues the U.N. is struggling with.”

Apart from Guterres, UNICEF’s Turkiye Representative Regina De Dominicis also signed the declaration of goodwill on the project to show her support to the initiative.

Between 2017, when the project was launched, and January 2022, 16.5 million tons of paper and cardboard, 4.1 million tons of plastic, 1.7 million tons of glass, 400,000 tons of metals and 1.5 million tons of organic and other wastes have been recycled, Erdoğan said earlier, noting that total waste recycled amounted to 24.2 million tons over this period.

The recycling rate in Turkiye was 13 percent when the Zero-Waste Project was initiated, but the rate is presently around 22.4 percent, she said. “We aim to increase the recycling rate further up to 35 percent in 2023.”

The first lady also said that plastic bag usage has declined as much as 75 percent, thanks to the regulation that requires businesses to charge consumers for use of plastic bags.


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