Turkey announces waste import controls


The Turkish Government has brought in new import controls that are likely to have a significant impact on UK packaging waste exports.

In the first 6 months of 2020, the UK exported 114k tonnes of plastic packaging waste to Turkey, nearly 30% of all plastic packaging waste exports and over two thirds of the total exported in the whole of 2019. The UK is the largest exporter of this material to Turkey, in 2019, nearly double the next highest - Italy - and over a quarter of their total plastic packaging waste imports.

The recent BBC report highlighted concerns over the quality of some material sent there and over the last month, the EA has been carrying out checks on Turkish destination sites. But it seems that the Turkish Government has now decided to stem their growth of imported material and have announced a series of measures that could severely dent the UK's reliance on that market.

Any waste leaving the country of export after last Thursday will be subject to the new rules:

  • Turkish importers will be required to apply for an import permit. This will require details of their existing recycling capacity, their existing license and details of their 2020 imports to date.
  • They will need to prove they are supplied by at least 3 different domestic suppliers.
  • After the first year, the Turkish Ministry will allocate a quote which if exceeded, will be reduced in future years.
  • For the rest of 2020, they will only be able to accept up to 50% of their reported capacity as imports.
  • Any 'inappropriate' waste will be returned to the country of origin at the importers expense.

Anyone exporting to Turkey from last Friday should therefore be aware that unless their export destination has met the above requirements, there is the potential that the waste may be repatriated.