Within 2021, the Turkey government banned, revoked, and then introduced new laws surrounding packaging waste management, which aimed to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment. These laws were introduced following a study by a leading independent global campaigning network, which found that a lot of the plastic waste imported to the country from European countries were left to burn or dumped on the roadside and the beaches.

However, with many countries revisiting the familiar Mediterranean market to diversify the supply chains, what do these new regulations mean for Turkey sourcing?

Here, we discuss the full implications of these new regulations and what this means for companies trading from the Turkish markets in the coming days.

Principles of the plastic import ban in Turkey

Turkey is one of the largest consumers and importers of plastic in Europe, with 440 plastic bags per person compared to 15-25 in most European countries. This significantly higher plastic consumption is an environmental disaster and indicates the inefficient use of natural resources.

The primary aim of the new plastic import regulation aims to ensure the timely collection of plastic waste, within the scope of a zero-waste management system. Every organisation and legal entity involved in these new regulations is now liable to “implement the measures necessary to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste” and have joint liability over the expenses for recovering the environmental damage caused by plastic waste management.

Impact of the plastic import ban: developing the plastic sector in Turkey

With these new regulations, there will be a significant drop in demand for plastic bags, which are primarily manufactured by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Without support programs and subsidies, these SMEs will face the direct brunt of the market and fail to sustain going forward.

However, this is also a welcome opportunity for these businesses to rethink their business models. Turkey sourcing is on the rise again following supply chain disruptions in China, and the Turkish plastic sector needs to deploy a strategy based on innovative products. The import balances reveal that the market currently relies heavily on commodity applications, with little to no exposure to engineering plastic or HTPA segments.

The division of responsibility among producers, suppliers, and stakeholders is an excellent way to pave the way for innovation to newer products and achieve the national strategies and policies introduced this year.

What do these new regulations mean for Turkey sourcing?

With the concept of the “Polluter Pays Principle” introduced in these new regulations, the Turkish plastics sector can set up an innovation agenda and explore new products that can replace plastic bags conveniently without hampering the supply chains.

Moreover, brands looking to reinvest in the Mediterranean market and explore Turkey sourcing need to come up with alternative packaging solutions or invest in plastic waste management to reduce the impact on the environment and human health. The new regulations should not, however, drastically impact the manufacturing and textile supply chains unless the producers fall under the categories defined in the regulations.

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