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Environment

Ali Mendillioğlu

Ali Mendillioğlu Advocates the Rights of Recycle Workers

On 11 November 2010, Sabancı Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" program hosts Ali Mendillioğlu, a recycling worker who organizes other recycling workers to advocate for their rights.

Calling himself a recycle worker, Ali Mendillioğlu is actually a garbage collector, who represents a marginalized community in Turkey. Every day, recycle workers walk around with their two-wheeled carts and look through garbage containers in order to find materials that can be recycled. They are on the sidewalk across from the streets, they are right next to the garbage containers where cars are parked, yet they are the most invisible.

A 2004 regulation regulates the recycling process and authorizes the municipalities and licensed firms to do the recycling in Turkey. However, problems in the implementation cause the recycle workers; who do this work out of despair, fill in the gap. It is the conditions of unemployment, internal migration, crime, and many other social and economic problems of Turkey which force people to work as recycling workers in Turkey. They have nothing but the garbage to turn into to make a living. In this sense, it is not a voluntary choice but a last resort. The irony is that what is garbage in one household creates an income for another.

Within this context, Ali Mendillioğlu, a recycle worker himself, helps to promote the problems of the recycling process and recycle workers on Turkey's agenda. Establishing a union with 400 active members and creating a Facebook group with 2.753 fans, Ali Mendillioğlu aims to serve one single purpose: to create a space for voices to be heard. For 8 years, he has been publishing a periodical for and by the workers. At its 9^th volume, a recycling worker states his opinion as such: "Most people just turn their faces away from us, it is always us, who stay out of the life, the game. What we want is to become visible, noticeable, and involved in the game just like others..."

Season 2 - Epsiode 6

Date: 11.11.2010

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