Sustainability and the circular economy

The EBRD’s business model of investments, technical assistance and policy dialogue is helping Turkey to cut down on waste and minimise environmental damage

As the world’s population increases, the pressure on natural resources is going to be more intense. For a long time we have been living in a linear economy, based on a “take-make-use-dispose” mentality. In a linear economy, value is created by maximising the amount of products produced and consumed.

To minimise our impact on the environment, the logical step would be to move towards a circular economy where we can take advantage of the existing material flows for additional use or improve the material efficiency of products across value chains. This means reducing the extraction of virgin materials where possible, in addition to recovering, re-using and recycling materials.

However, this is certainly not the path of least resistance in many developing countries. The key challenges for transition to a circular economy are the lack of know-how to drive innovation, absence of a strong regulatory framework and access to finance for implementing resource efficiency investments.

In December 2015 we took a step towards a circular economy with the Near Zero Waste Programme (NØW) in Turkey. The Programme supports waste minimisation and valorisation investments (such as the the re-use of waste or under-used materials in the production process) in Turkey by employing the EBRD’s typical business model of:

  • investments and projects – blending the EBRD’s finance with concessional funds
  • technical assistance – providing companies with technical assistance to support them with project preparation
  • policy dialogue – engaging with the government and relevant ministries to improve the regulatory framework to promote sustainable development.

Despite the great work and efforts made in technical assistance and policy dialogue to mainstream waste minimisation projects in Turkey, there is still a lot to do to make sure the impact of these activities gains visibility (and traction).

To minimise our impact on the environment means reducing the extraction of virgin materials where possible, in addition to recovering, re-using and recycling materials.

Bengisu Kilic Gokberk


Turkey Materials Marketplace

The EBRD has funded and launched Turkey Materials Marketplace (TMM), a cloud-based platform designed to facilitate cross-industry materials (waste, by-products and unused raw materials from production processes) to re-use among Turkish companies. The project is based on a secure marketplace software platform through which project members are invited to share materials data from their operations.

With assistance from the project team, companies work collaboratively to identify, evaluate and implement material re-use and valorisation opportunities, which are crucial components of the circular economy. Today, TMM has reached 75 members (most of whom are EBRD clients) and successfully completed 5 material transactions among member companies.

Introducing end-of-waste (EoW) criteria in Turkey’s Waste Management Regulation

Almost all requirements in the EU’s Waste Framework Directive were harmonised in the Turkish Waste Management Regulation except the “end-of-waste criteria”. This concept sets certain conditions which identify when a type of waste ceases to be legally classified as waste (end-of-waste criteria). It is particularly important for the glass, iron and steel, aluminium and copper industries, which can easily substitute their raw material input with scrap materials. Currently, the scrap materials from these industries are waste by definition and therefore are subject to administrative controls and trade restrictions.

Lack of EoW definition in Turkey’s waste management regulation is one of the obstacles to putting the circular economy concept into practice in Turkey. The team worked with the Ministry of Environment to develop a roadmap to incorporate EoW criteria into the Waste Management Regulation.

To move away from linear consumption practices, markets and businesses will need the support of conducive policy frameworks and access to dedicated finance from institutions such as the European Union and the EBRD, along with a clear understanding of how to align their operations.

In this context, the EBRD hosted a panel discussion on 16 May 2019 in Brussels, during the EU Green Week in Brussels, on “Fostering investments in support of the EU’s Circular Economy Package”, explaining the role of policy and financial support programmes to enhance circular economy investments and green innovation activities.

TMM has reached 75 members and successfully completed 5 material transactions among member companies.