“Kaynayştır (Wastecycling) Project” won the TURMEPA Sabri Ülker Environment Award, worth 100,000 Turkish lira. • Asst. Prof. Dr. Yunis Karaca, a lecturer at the Dumlupınar University, received the TURMEPA Sabri Ülker Environment Award, which was given out for the first time this year to commemorate late Sabri Ülker, the founder of Yıldız Holding. • Channels integrated into buildings, such as homes, offices, and hospitals, allow all sorts of waste, including used oil, glass, plastic, paper, and batteries, to be easily separated and stored under the buildings. From there the material is sent for recycling and its value returned to the economy. Considering the fact that one liter of used oil pollutes one million liters of water, this system prevents pollution of our water resources by tens of thousands of liters of used oil, or the creation of mountains of trash on land and sea. • Yunis Karaca obtained the patent for the Wastecycling Project, and the first implementation occurred in collaboration with the Tokat Municipality last year. Karaca’s automatic separation system is drawing interest not only domestically, but also from abroad.

Water holds crucial importance for all living creatures as it is vital to leading a healthy life.  We need oxygen to continue living and water to sustain oxygen, as we get 75 percent of our oxygen requirement from water resources.  However, there is rising pressure on water resources in our country, as in the rest of the world, due to population growth, industrialization, urbanization, global warming, pollution, and irrational use of water. The United Nations considers a country to be experiencing water stress if less than 1,500 cubic meters of water are available per person annually. Given this definition, data from the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works places Türkiye among countries with a water shortage. With our rising population, our country is facing the risk of becoming water poor in the coming years.

 Yıldız Holding has a conscientious approach in regards to sharing its advancements and sustainable production. As such, it initiated an environmental award this year to commemorate its founder, Sabri Ülker, and to encourage individuals and organizations that come up with applicable projects for the preservation of environmental and water resources.  DenizTemiz Association/TURMEPA presented the first TURMEPA Sabri Ülker Environment Award, which was established to increase individual and social examples of ensuring sustainability of water resources. 

There were over 200 applications made to the competition. The “Wastecycling Project,” submitted by Kütahya Dumlupınar University, was selected as the winner among the 112 projects that met the application criteria. The project aims to prevent water pollution by separating garbage at its source. Asst. Prof. Dr. Yunis Karaca, a lecturer at the Kütahya University, has been working on the project since 2010.  Karaca’s “Wastecycling Project” makes it possible to separate all kinds of waste at homes, or other common living spaces, without jumbling them together. The system consists of an electromechanical channel and a smart container that can be integrated into the exterior walls of the buildings. It also involves a 50×50 cm waste chute, which takes up a small amount of space and can be installed in kitchens or balconies at any stage of the project. Pressing one of the buttons on the smart panel opens the chute where the waste has been piled up and then the waste is sent through the channel to be collected in the smart container. First of its kind in Türkiye, and in the world, the system allows environmentally clean collection of waste oil, which is a major factor in polluting water resources. 

Yunis Karaca, the inventor and the owner of the project, received an award in a NASA contest with a team he provided scientific consulting to.

 We selected an exemplary project that benefits our consumers. 
 Ali Ülker, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, spoke at the award ceremony and emphasized that preserving limited water resources has to be a priority for all individuals. “Awareness for the environment begins at home at early ages, just like many other habits.  Today, if homemakers knew that each liter of waste oil they pour into the sink or the trash pollutes one million liters of usable clean water, they would change this habit. Nevertheless, we need to take this up with them by providing practical solutions. That is why this project is so valuable. I consider this project significant and applicable in terms of going beyond wishful thinking and showing what we actually can do.  As 80 percent of water resources are polluted by humans,” he said.
Ülker reminded that of the 350,000 tons of waste vegetable oil created in Türkiye each year, only 100,000 tons are collected and the remaining 250,000 tons of uncontrolled waste oil pollute water resources. “Wastecycling Project” could protect the environment as well as water resources through an effective recycling system. Ülker continued, “I hope there will be more exemplary projects next year to motivate the masses.” 

Ülker underlined the fact that throughout the world, a child dies every 20 seconds as a result of water-related diseases. “Each year, 1.8 million children under the age of five die of water-related diseases. Thus, we believe in the importance of managing sustainable water resources and in the need to support and share the research conducted and the projects implemented in this field with the public. Only then, would these exemplary applications be expanded and our water resources be sustained,” 
From homemakers to farmers, everyone applied; the winning project was selected among 112 applications.
Tezcan Yaramancı, Chairman of the Board of Directors at TURMEPA, said when the jury assessed the projects they took pains to select the one that could make an impact and create awareness on a broad scale, as well as expanding exemplary projects. He continued to explain the award process; 

“It was very hard to select the winner. We implemented two pre-screenings as there were many strong applications.  A selection committee of experts in their fields presented three of the 112 applications that met the announced criteria to the jury. The applications were sent from all corners of Türkiye. There was interest not only from SMEs, municipalities, and universities, but also from a diverse range of organizations, homemakers, and farmers. Nevertheless, we had to select only one winner. The most important factor in awarding this project was that it has already been implemented and its success has been proven. Esteemed professor Yunis Karaca has put the system into practice with great success at the TOKI housing units in Tokat with the support of the Municipality. Moreover, we had already stated in the award criteria that we would be rewarding applicable and proven projects. The Award got off to a good start.”

Each waste type goes into its own trash container with a single push of a button 
 Asst. Prof. Dr. Yunis Karaca, a lecturer at the Kütahya Dumlupınar University and the inventor of the Wastecycling Project,  is the architect of the automatic separation at the source system in Türkiye, and in the world.  Karaca has also obtained the patent on the system. The project, which he has been working on since 2010, has been put into practice in the TOKI housing units in Tokat with the support of the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning, and Tokat Municipality. Yunis Karaca explained how the system works: 
“Today, unfortunately, no household trash is put through effective recycling. Recycling vegetable and animal oil alone could result in 25 percent less pollution of domestic wastewater. Furthermore, while protecting the environment and water resources, one liter of biodiesel could be produced from one liter of waste oil, and therefore give it economic value.  “Wastecycling Project” stands for separating at the source; it is an automated system that sorts glass, plastic, paper, liquid oil, and domestic garbage at homes and community dwellings, such as building complexes, schools, or hospitals. The current manual separation system has been completely left to the discretion of individuals, and it operates with only a 15 percent efficiency level. Whereas, with the new system, a chute is opened on every floor, or in the kitchen, with a button for each type of trash.  You press “glass” when you want to dispose of waste glass and push “plastic” when you want to dispose of waste plastic. Then, the cover opens to send the trash to its own container underneath the building. The only thing you have to do is press the button on the panel showing the type of trash you want to dispose of. This makes it possible to collect waste oil, which is the primary cause of water pollution, without bringing harm to the environment.” 

The system is guaranteed to open and close 10 million times.
 According to the information provided by Karaca, the project has a self-cleaning canal system. The Municipality workers come and collect the sorted garbage to recycle it and create economic value.   “Recycling facilities will be able to increase their earnings by ten-fold thanks to this system as the waste is brought to the facility at a 100-percent ready state. Whereas, pouring one liter of waste oil into the sink pollutes one million liters of water.  It costs a lot more to separate oil from water. On the other hand, collected oil has value as biodiesel.  It took Kayseri Municipality three years to get back only 300 of the 7,000 barrels it had distributed to collect waste oil,” he said. 

Yunis Karaca stated that there were eight other municipalities, like Zeytinburnu and Ankara Muratpaşa, that are interested in the system.  He said a chute could be added to the system for used articles to have them delivered to the needy. Karaca pointed out the patent was obtained by Teknokent, an affiliate of the university. “The system provides a guarantee to open and close 10 million times. It also promises to pay for itself in a matter of a few years in a 40-unit apartment building, since you can sell your separated trash at a cost,” he said. 

Purpose of the TURMEPA Sabri Ülker Environment Award:
Following are the brief reasons for selection of the “Wastecycling Project” as the winner among all the applicants: 

 Eighty percent of ocean and freshwater resources are polluted by human waste from the land. All of the waste water pours into the sea via the sewage from homes, offices, hospitals, and factories, and most of it merges with our water resources without being treated. Considering the fact that waste oil is responsible for 25 percent of water pollution, “Wastecycling Project” offers a practical and unique solution for disposing of and recycling waste oil generated at homes and businesses. It separates garbage and waste at the source before reaching water resources, creating value for the economy by keeping the waste usable at the highest level. “Wastecycling Project” also provides the easiest solution for all consumers to perform their individual responsibilities to help preserve natural resources. The project stood out with the following features it offers;
• There are examples of successful implementations,
• It offers a practical solution to protect our environment,
• It is very easy for everyone to participate in the environmental movement at homes and businesses where this model is being used,
• It brings added value to the economy,
• It offers an innovative approach to waste management. 

Gains brought by the system
• Recycling facilities work at a productivity rate of 25-30 percent with the current garbage collection system, whereas the “Wastecycling Project”  can improve this rate to 100 percent.
• “Wastecycling” makes it possible to recycle plastic packaging waste and produce fiber for textile items, water pipes, and vinyl floor coverings from it.
• Metal packaging waste is melted  for re-use as raw material.
• Glass packaging waste is crushed to re-use in production of glass containers or souvenirs. 
• 99 percent of aluminum waste is recycled, reducing polluting emissions from smelting operations.
• Recycling one ton of paper/cardboard waste prevents cutting down 17 trees.
• Recycling one ton of plastic waste results in a 95 percent energy savings.
• Recycling one liter of waste oil saves one million liters of water from pollution. 
• “Wastecycling” will allow the environment to be 100-percent hygienic and odor-free as a result of disposing waste easily in living spaces, nearly 100 percent efficiency will be achieved in recycling, and water resources will be preserved from waste oil to a great extent. 
TURMEPA Sabri Ülker Environment Award – Selection Committee 
Dr. Ahmet Baban (TUBITAK Marmara Research Center, Environment and Cleaner Production Institute – Chief Expert)
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Erkan Kıdeyş (ODTÜ Deniz Bilimleri Enstitüsü Müdürü)
Prof. Dr. Bayram Öztürk (President of the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TÜDAV)) 
Güven İslamoğlu (Television Program Producer and Presenter on the Environment)
Prof. Dr. Hulusi Barlas (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) Türkiye Director) 
Prof. Dr. Nilgün Cılız (Boğaziçi University Sustainable Development and Clean Production Center Director)
Prof. Dr. Osman Kamil Sağ (President of Piri Reis University)
TURMEPA Sabri Ülker Environment Award – Members of the Jury 
Ali Ülker (Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Yıldız Holding)
Dr. Zeki Ziya Sözen (Food, Frozen Products, and Personal Care Group Director of Yıldız Holding)
Tezcan M. Yaramancı (Chairman of the Board of Directors of TURMEPA)
Eşref Cerrahoğlu (Board Member and Previous Chairman of the Board of Directors of TURMEPA)
Kerem Okumuş (Vice Director of the Regional Environment Center National Program)

Background of Asst. Prof. Dr. Yunis Karaca  
Asst. Prof. Dr. Yunis Karaca lived in Uzbekistan for five years after completing his university education at the Gazi University Faculty of Education between 1989 and 1993. He received a Ph.D. in Zoology from the Fergana State University in 1998 and returned to Türkiye as a lecturer at Fatih University. Karaca won an award in an invention contest in 2008 called NASA JPL Invention Challenge with an ignition system he built. He worked as a project coordinator for NASA until 2011. Karaca received six gold, one silver and five bronze medals in a variety of projects he participated in.   Karaca continues his accomplished career by giving seminars on technology and science, promoting the books he presents his views in, and with the six projects he has obtained the patents for.


It protects our natural resources  

 Natural resources are being depleted each day due to rising world population and changing consuming habits. For this reason, it is necessary to use natural resources more effectively by reducing material use and recycling valuable waste.  Glass, metal, plastic, and paper/cardboard packaging are generated through the use of natural resources such as forests, water, petroleum, etc. in the production processes. After packaging makes its way into the market, it becomes waste and gets sorted according to its type before being delivered to the recycling industry. Then, these recycled materials are used as secondary raw materials during the production stages of other products. Using fewer natural resources benefits nature. For instance, recycling one ton of paper prevents cutting down 17 trees. While recycling plastic packaging waste helps save petroleum. Each ton of recycled glass saves 100 liters of petroleum.

It provides energy savings 
 Recycling yields energy savings by reducing the number of processes in material production. For instance, during the recycling process of metal beverage cans, metal is transformed into new products by being melted, thus eliminating the need for new metal ore. Recycling an aluminum can in this manner can provide a 95-percent energy savings when compared to production from raw material. Similarly, the energy that is needed to recycle paper is 50 percent less than what is required to make new paper.  It also provides a 45 percent savings in water consumption. Likewise, significant energy savings can be obtained from recycling glass and plastic waste.

It makes a contribution to the economy
 Recycling is an effective long-term economic investment. Fast-depleting raw materials and natural resources may cause economic problems.  Recycling can make a positive impact on the economy. Reducing the consumption of energy and natural resources is critical for the country’s economy. Moreover, a reduction in the consumption of materials, such as petroleum from foreign countries, helps keep money within the country and improve the economy.  Also, by exporting products like synthetic fiber generated by recycling, foreign currency flows into the country.

It reduces waste 
 Recycling cuts down the amount of waste that goes into garbage.  Less space and energy are required to move and store the waste.  Density of domestic waste is nearly 0.6 kg/m³ while, the figure is 0.3 kg/m³ for packaging waste. This decline is not much in terms of weight for domestic waste, but it is significant in terms of volume. It has been established that domestic waste can be compressed by 75-80 percent, while this figure is around 25 percent for packaging waste. When packaging waste is recycled, it is possible to collect more of it in domestic waste collecting vehicles and thus reduce the cost of collection and transport. Storage facilities that cost a lot to build can be used for longer periods of time with fewer trips to collection areas.

It is an investment for the future 
 Effective use of the natural resources, which the world we live in provides for us, is critical so as to ensure that future generations do not experience resource issues.  The more prudent we are in using the world’s natural resources the fewer issues the next generations will have with them. The recycling industry is growing each day in our country. This growth will prompt establishment of new facilities and creation of new jobs.