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UN chief salutes leadership of Turkish government, first lady in fighting waste

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lauded on Thursday the leadership of the Turkish government and First Lady Emine Erdogan in combatting global waste, which he said is “making a mess of our world.”

“Humanity is treating our planet like a garbage dump. We are trashing our only home. We’re spewing a torrent of waste and pollution that is affecting our environment, our economies, and our health,” Guterres told the UN General Assembly as it commemorated the first Zero Waste Day, part of an initiative led by the Turkish first lady.

“I want to recognize and salute the leadership of the government of Türkiye and First Lady Emine Erdoğan on this vital issue,” added the UN chief.

In 2017, under the auspices of Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan, Türkiye launched the zero waste project to highlight the importance of eliminating waste in fighting the climate crisis. The project has drawn international praise.

Last December, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on a zero waste initiative presented by Türkiye declaring March 30 as the International Day of Zero Waste.

According to the World Bank, an average of 0.74 kilograms of waste is produced daily per person worldwide. This value ranges from 0.11 to 4.54 kilograms. It is expected to add up to 3.88 billion tons per year by 2050.

As of 2022, an average of 82% of municipal waste is collected worldwide and 55% is sent to waste treatment facilities. Food loss and waste have significant environmental, social, and economic consequences.

Some 10% of global greenhouse emmissions can be chalked up to the growing, transport and storage of food that is never used, which Guterres said is “an outrage” when 800 million people around the globe go hungry every year.

“Waste is a killer. Of people. Of our planet. Of our natural resources and ecosystems. Of economies, which lose billions each year from waste. And the gobs of garbage keep growing,” he said. “Garbage is laying waste to our planet. It’s time to fight back.”

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