Suruç Environmental and Zero Wastes Projects

Suruç Municipality is redoubling its efforts to protect the environment and reduce waste. With the support of Qudra 2, a new project aims to develop a waste management system which contributes to minimising waste generation while at the same time promoting efficient recycling.

Since 2020, Suruç Municipality has been working on environmental protection and zero waste with the support of the Qudra 2 programme, including setting up a dedicated unit to address these challenges. The municipality is starting to implement its fourth project phase focusing on youth and progressing towards “zero waste”.

All four projects of the municipality aimed to develop a waste management system which contributes to minimising waste generation and efficient recycling. Awareness raising among the local community in Suruç has been a critical part of the intervention. The projects contribute to a cleaner city and improve residents’ everyday lives. Better and more equal access to services also reduces tensions in the community. Social cohesion is strengthened through tackling common challenges and working together towards a shared, cleaner environment.

The first two projects focused on textile recycling. 15 textile waste collection boxes were placed in the district, and a Municipality laundry room was re-established to clean the collected textile wastes and prepare them for reuse. A second-hand clothing store was established, where those in need could get free clothes. Information sessions and awareness-raising campaigns were carried out to encourage people living in Suruç to use the textile boxes and recycle their textile wastes. Young people and women showed a particular interest in the project. 610 people attended awareness-raising training on recycling, and 2,500 benefited from second-hand clothing support. Although the project ended in April 2021, the laundry and shop continue to operate. So far, 18,000 people have benefited from clothing support.

In its second project, the municipality sought to build on the interest shown by young people and women to tackle the issue of waste. The second project raised awareness of the importance of environmental protection while improving packaging recycling. The municipality organised competitions between youth and adults to encourage waste collection in the district. 260 young people who collected the most waste participated in a breakfast event with the mayor to convey their needs and expectations and benefitted from educational support. Ten adults who collected the most waste benefitted from small-value market vouchers to support their families. In total, 1,760 people were reached through the awareness-raising campaigns.

In addition to collecting packaging waste, stale bread and fruit peels were collected and converted into ethanol. The ethanol was used to produce disinfectant spray in a laboratory set up by the municipality under the project. The first disinfectant was distributed to vulnerable community members to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The keen interest of young people was a welcome surprise for the municipality’s team. Their participation in the project contributes to addressing a critical challenge in Turkey. Research has found that children and youth often feel overlooked and excluded [1]. Effective channels for participation have to be created to counteract this, allowing young people to discover their strengths and feel part of their local communities. The recycling project in Suruç has proven to be one such opportunity.

Suruç’s fourth project cycle will build on the motivation of its young community members. It will focus on actively involving young people to contribute to a sustainable environment. In this project, young people will work together towards common goals, regardless of nationality or gender.

Recycling activities will continue. In addition, the project will promote “upcycling”. Young people will be supported to give “waste” a new lease on life by learning to transform by-products, waste materials, and useless or unwanted products into new materials or products with, for example, artistic or environmental value.

Furthermore, the ethanol production laboratory will host activities for young people interested in cologne and soap-making. The process of turning food waste into alcohol will be explained, and the final products will be distributed among vulnerable households.

Throughout the project, increasing participation and positive social interaction aim to contribute to social cohesion by building relationships among people of different origins and strengthening a sense of belonging in the community and trust in the municipality.

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