This programme is co-funded by the European Union and Replublic of Turkey
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As is seen in the whole world, rapid urbanization and population growth in parallel with technological developments and industrialization is increasing the pressure of human activities on environment in Turkey. Wastes produced have reached to threatening levels with their quantity and hazardous contents. If sent to landfill, biodegradable organic waste (bio-waste) releases noxious substances as a result of natural degradation, causing soil and groundwater pollution and spreading large amounts of the greenhouse gas (GHG), methane. Methane (CH4) is by far the most important non-CO2GHG - a relatively potent GHG responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2GHGs.

As a developing country, the waste in Turkey contains a high proportion of organic matter. According to research, the most remarkable aspect of the municipal solid waste (MSW) composition in Istanbul was the rather high organic matter content of 54.09%, with the paper/board group was next in ranking with a proportion of 15.57%. Preventing even a fraction of that amount from going to dumps/landfills by composting makes an enormous impact on global climate change and protecting the environment. According to Turkstat, in 2013 the highest portion of methane emissions in Turkey was originated from waste disposal with 58%.The EU Landfill Directive (1999/31/CE) requires that the amount of bio-waste be reduced by 65% compared to 1995 levels by 2016. Turkey has also implemented a composting regulation in 2015, mandating all municipalities to separate bio-waste at source opposed to sending to landfills. However, the know-how on logistics, operation and financial sustainability on composting is largely missing.


There is much less methane in the atmosphere than CO2, about 1800 parts per billion (ppb), compared with an estimated 390 parts per million of CO2. However its potential for global warming has been estimated at 25 times greater than CO2. And as with other GHG, methane levels have been rising; atmospheric methane reached a new high of about 1819 ppb in 2012, or %260 of the pre-industrial level, due to increased emissions from anthropogenic activities. Half of current emissions are human-related which includes landfills, agriculture and coal mining. Landfills provide ideal conditions for methanogenesis, with lots of organic material and anaerobic conditions prevalent. The huge amounts of waste that are buried in landfill sites can mean that methane is produced for years after the site is closed, due to the waste slowly decaying under the ground.

Organic wastes do not contain methane. It is only when they are placed in an anaerobic environment that methane is produced. Composting, while not perfectly aerobic, will generate very little, if any, methane.Municipal composting is collecting food waste and green waste form the gardens separately and sending it to a composting facility as opposed to landfills. Then the food waste and green waste from gardens – grass and hedge clippings, prunings – is roughly shredded (to a width of 400mm) and then mixed with a small quantity of compost activator (contains micro-organisms and enzymes to promote efficient composting). Depending on the content, the moisture and the air temperature, the bio-waste turns into compost, which can be used as fertilizer.


Composting not only helps fight global climate change, it also prevents leachate leak from dumps/landfills, saves land from being used as from trash collection, and provides green-collar employment. Bio-waste that goes to landfills and dumpsites cause methane gas that accelerates climate change, its transportation has a big ecological footprint. It pollutes the soil and water with leachate, take up land that would be otherwise left alone.


Compost is highly beneficial for degraded soil. USDA research indicates that compost usage can reduce fertilizer requirements by at least 20%, thereby significantly reducing net GHG emissions. Compost can greatly enhance the physical structure of soil. In fine-textured (clay, clay loam) soils, the addition of compost will reduce bulk density, improve friability (workability) and porosity, and increase its gas and water permeability, thus reducing erosion. When used in sufficient quantities, the addition of compost has both an immediate and long-term positive impact on soil structure and may provide greater drought resistance and more efficient water utilization. Therefore, the frequency and intensity of irrigation may be reduced. Research also suggests that the addition of compost in sandy soils can facilitate moisture dispersion by allowing water to more readily move laterally from its point of application. The incorporation of compost also has the ability to buffer or stabilize soil pH, whereby it will more effectively resist pH change.


Currently in Turkey, the laws for separate collection and handling of the bio-waste is in place, however the regulations remain on paper. The reason is lack of political incentive which stems from lack of know-how and information. Turkey Composts! Project will work with all the decision makers in the sector, ranging from the governmental bodies, the municipality unions, the media, the CSOs and the public. As proper handling of bio-waste, particularly composting is a fairly new concept in Turkey, getting Turkish and European stakeholders together and visiting best practice sites are of major importance. The conference will also set a platform for the European and Turkish stakeholders get together and develop partnerships, thus, strengthening the civil society dialogue between Europe and Turkey.

Since composting and bio-waste are fairly new concepts for Turkey, it is crucial to find the right partner for Turkey Composts!.Large scale municipal composting requires a different kind of expertise and know-how than Bugday already has, that is missing in Turkey and that is one of the very reasons that make Bugday and ACR+ very compatible partners for achieving the targets of this project. Founded in Pamplona in 1994, ACR+ deals with waste prevention and waste management, with 11+ years of expertise in bio-waste and composting. ACR+ works with EU-15 countries, new member states and South-Mediterranean countries. With 100 members, which consist of mainly local and regional authorities representing around 1100 municipalities, ACR+ will put Turkish municipalities in direct contact with European municipalities which have accomplished successful bio-waste and composting projects. ACR+ also serves as a network open to other key players such as NGOs, academic institutions and private organisations, which are the main target groups of the project.

According to the Metropolitan Municipality Law (10.7.2004 - 5216) and the Municipality Law (3.7.2005 - 5393), sole responsibility for the management of municipal waste falls on the municipalities. They are responsible for providing all services regarding collection, transportation, separation, recycling, disposal and storage of solid wastes, or to appoint others to provide these services. Nevertheless, while fulfilling their duties in collecting and transporting the solid waste to a great extent, they do not show the required level of activity and attention in MSW management.

Waste generation and management have been recognized as a priority for Turkey and policies are being developed to overcome existing obstacles. The By-law on Landfill of waste (No: 27533 2012) aimed to decrease the amount of landfilled biodegradable municipal waste in a scheduled period. Currently, 8 composting facilities and 6 facilities for electricity production from methane gas are operating.

In March 2015, in an attempt to better the waste handling situation in Turkey and bring it up-to-par with developed countries, Turkish Ministry of Environment released a regulation on collection and recycling (composting) of bio-waste in Turkey Composting Regulation (No 29286, 2015). The recently adopted regulation mandates that all district municipalities are responsible for collecting and treating bio-degradable waste separately. The regulation also mandates the technical criteria of the composting facilities and the quality criteria of the final compost product. In order for the regulation to work, municipalities need transfer of know-how and experience, which Turkey Composts! Project will help provide.

For other EEA member countries the environmental benefits of better MSW management have been calculated based on a model on GHG emissions. Unfortunately, this model does not cover Turkey at the moment. Although it has shortcomings in its implementation, the MSW management system has been improved based on new regulations and supported by studies, according to the Turkish MoEU. The amount of collected MSW in 2010 was 25 million tonnes, equivalent to 84 % of the total generated MSW. The share of MSW going to landfill was increased by 5 % in the years between 2001 and 2010. The number of sanitary landfill sites increased from 15 in 2003 to 68 in the 3rd quarter of 2012.

Since a sound waste management infrastructure is not established yet in Turkey, each and every year, millions of tons of natural resources, the employment opportunity for thousands of people, a wealth of millions of dollars are wasted and the revival capacity of environment is rapidly exhausted. The great majority of solid waste in Turkey is still not being disposed in accordance with the legislation. Because of that, solid waste and wastewater data are lacking in Turkey, definitions are not uniform, and interannual variability is often not well quantified.


The European Union demanded that the amount of biodegradable municipal waste dumped in landfill must be cut to 75 per cent of 1995 levels by 2010, and to 50 per cent by 2015 and to little more than a third by 2020. Meeting the first target would mean an 8 million tonne reduction.In EU, the amount of municipal waste generated per person in 2013 amounted to 481 kg, down by 8.7% compared with its peak of 527 kg per person in 2002. Since 2007, the generation of municipal waste per person has constantly decreased in the EU to below its mid-1990s level. Of the 481 kg of municipal waste generated per person in the EU in 2013, 470 kg per person were treated. This treatment followed different methods3: 31% was landfilled, 28% recycled, 26% incinerated and 15% composted. The share of municipal waste recycled or composted in the EU has steadily increased over the time period, from 18% in 1995 to 43% in 2013.

Compost is used in agriculture (about 50%), for landscaping (up to 20%), to produce growing media (blends) and manufactured soil (around 20%), and by private consumers (up to 25%). Countries which produce compost predominantly from mixed waste and have undeveloped compost markets tend to use it in agriculture (ES, FR) or for land restoration or landfill cover (FI, IE, PL).Seeing the win-win outcome of composting bio-waste before it enters the landfills, some of the European countries are going beyond the EU requirements; such as France banning the supermarkets from trashing the expired food – it will be either given away to the poor or composted.


The recently adopted Waste Management Regulation (No. 29314, 2015) mandates that all district municipalities are responsible for collecting and treating bio-degradable waste separately. Although the regulation is in place, its application is very limited. The main reason is lack of knowledge and incentive. Turkey Composts! Project aims to reach out to district and metropolitan municipalities by the help of Turkish Union of Municipalities, provide education, spread knowledge by visiting best-practice areas and by putting together a national conference on composting.

Turkey Composts! project tackles several major environmental and sociological problems all at once: The climate change (by preventing release of methane gas into the atmosphere), the pollution (by preventing leachate pollute the soil and water sources), the biodiversity (by saving land from being diverted to landfills) and Turkey’s stagnating environmental record (by transfer of know-how and dissemination).

The target groups of Turkey Composts! are municipalities in Turkey, handling the municipal solid waste (MSW). There are a total of 1397 municipalities in Turkey. They are over-burdened with the excessive waste disposal volume and lack the know-how of properly handling it. They are bound and held responsible by the regulations to separate the bio-waste at source and recycle by composting but most of them don’t have the access to the technology and the know-how. Turkey Composts! project aims to show them the best practices in Europe, to provide a handbook and trainings to representatives of municipalities.

Representatives of 21 municipalities will be taken to Europe to visit the best composting facilities. The compost conference will reach out to at least 150 stakeholders, decision makers. The trainings which will be provided to the Unions of Municipalities will enable the beneficial effects of the information multiply. The media outreach will help educate both the media and the public, which will put pressure on the decision makers and increase the numbers of individual composting in gardens and balconies, thus reducing the amount of bio-waste that ends up in trash.

Specific objectives

  1. To increase composting practices in the municipalities of Turkey

  2. To support local governments in Turkey to implement the Regulation on Waste Management and in bio-waste management

  3. To increase awareness of compost in the general public in Turkey

  4. To increase cooperation between the local governments and CSOs working on waste and composting in Turkey and EU

Estimated results

  1. A needs analysis report on composting in municipalities in Turkey

A needs analysis will be conducted with an online questionnaire sent to all the municipalities in Turkey. The analysis will bring to view the individual situation, needs and opinions, previous activities, future plans, funding resources for composting activities of the municipalities in Turkey with regard to compost.

  1. A handbook for local governments on compost practices

A handbook on composting including best practices, basic guidelines on various aspects of compost, and resources for further information will be prepared in English, translated to Turkish and French.

  1. Increased know-how and awareness in the municipalities and other stakeholders in Turkey in terms of compost and waste management through field visits, conference and briefing meetings

21 representatives of municipalities from the 7 geographical of Turkey will visit the 3 best compost practices in EU. This visit will broaden the viewpoint of the municipalities with regard to compost, show them what is possible and what can be done, contribute to the transfer of know-how from municipalities in EU, guide them in the areas where they need and build contact and cooperation between local governments in EU and Turkey.

The conference on compost organised in Istanbul, Turkey, where the current situation in EU and Turkey will be presented, best practices in the EU will be shown and suggestions for Turkey from EU experts will be given, will also increase the knowledge of compost and waste management in the municipalities and other stakeholders.

The briefing and training meetings to be conducted will contribute to this increase in know-how and awareness and to increase the capacity of municipalities and Unions of Municipalities for setting up compost facilities, infrastructure for compost and waste separation and waste management.

  1. Cooperation and dialogue established between CSOs and local governments of Turkey and EU

This project is expected to be the first step in a long-term relationship, dialogue and cooperation between Bugday and ACR+ and its member organisations. It will also increase the cooperation between ACR+ and local governments in Turkey.



The duration of the project is 12 months; starting from 15 February 2016 to 15 February 2017

  1. Needs analysis for composting in Turkish municipalities

A needs analysis will be conducted to identify the situation, short-term and long-term needs, their strengths and weaknesses and opinions of the municipalities in Turkey with regard to compost. Their previous activities, future plans, financial instruments, funding resources for composting activities will be inquired. Both the short-cycle of bio-waste, including on-site composting and long-cycle referring to off-site composting, with prevention, selective collection, treatment options, compost, use of compost, marketing of compost, etc. will be analysed.

  1. Research and collection of good composting practices in EU

Based on the results of the needs analysis, ACR+ will look into the compost practices in EU countries and identify the practices that will meet the needs of Turkish municipalities in the best possible way. These best practices can include on-site and off-site systems, selective collection systems, and treatment options according to the results of the needs analysis.

3 of these best practices will be identified to be the cities visited. The rest will be considered to be included in the handbook on compost to be prepared.

  1. Field visits to best practices in EU

After the identification of the 3 best practices in EU, the visit schedules will be prepared and travel arrangements will be made for the visits in autumn 2016.

9 people from Turkey will travel in each visit. The 21 municipalities to send a representative will be selected according to the 7 geographical regions of Turkey.

  1. Preparation of a handbook on composting for local governments

A handbook on composting will be prepared. The handbook will include best practices, basic guidelines on various aspects of compost, and resources for further information.

The handbook will be printed and and distributed to municipalities and other stakeholders.

  1. Compost conference in Turkey

A 1-day compost conference will be organised in Istanbul, Turkey in January 2017. At least 150 people are expected from municipalities in Turkey, unions of municipalities, İlBank, interested parties and stakeholders, ministries and government institutions.

In the conference, the current situation in EU and Turkey will be presented, best practices in the EU will be shown, examples of practices from Turkey will be presented and suggestions for Turkey from EU experts will be given.