Research on ‘street waste pickers’ in 11 districts
The ‘street waste pickers’, who contribute to the recycling of materials such as paper, glass, and metal for the benefit of the environment and the economy, has become the subject of scientific research in Izmir. Conducted by three academics from Izmir University of Economics (IUE), the research involved face-to-face interviews with a thousand people from 11 districts, revealing noteworthy results. With a funding of 353 thousand Turkish Liras from TUBITAK, the study highlighted the significant role waste pickers play in environmental preservation, and the general success of their integration into society.
Prof. Dr. Şükrü Özen from IUE Department of Business Administration and Prof. Dr. Seda Can from IUE Department of Psychology also contributed to the project, led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Metehan Feridun Sorkun from IUE Department of Business Administration, as researchers. The study titled “The role of street waste pickers in individuals' waste separation behaviors” took place in Balçova, Bayraklı, Bornova, Buca, Çiğli, Gaziemir, Güzelbahçe, Karabağlar, Karşıyaka, Konak, and Narlıdere districts of Izmir.
POSITIVE PERCEPTION FROM IZMIR RESIDENTS
Participants were asked to respond to questions by scoring from 1 to 7. According to the research results, Izmir residents expressed positive views, with an average score of 6.2 for the statement ‘Waste pickers contribute to environmental preservation’, 6.4 for ‘They deserve the income they earn’, 5.9 for ‘They do not hinder municipalities from cleaning the environment’, and a 5.9 for ‘I am not bothered when I see waste pickers’. Izmir residents also indicated that waste pickers could be more proactive in terms of social integration.
WILL BE DISCUSSED IN DETAIL
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Metehan Feridun Sorkun stated that the results of the research and the impact of street waste pickers on individuals' waste separation behaviors would be thoroughly discussed at a meeting in February, hosted by IEU and attended by experts. Sharing details about the project, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sorkun said, “Our research revealed that people in Izmir approach the issue of waste pickers in two dimensions as ‘the social adaptation of waste pickers’ and ‘their contributions to society’. The high appreciation of Izmir residents for the contributions of waste pickers was a notable result. People in Izmir believe that the work of waste pickers is beneficial to society. However, they also suggest that adhering a bit more to social rules while performing their duties would be beneficial.”
THEY ARE INCLINED TO HELP
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sorkun continued, “We also reserached the willingness of Izmir residents to help waste pickers in this study. For example, they mentioned that they could separate their trash for waste pickers, making their job easier. Due to their positive attitude towards waste pickers, Izmir residents are inclined to help them. Many factors such as climate change due to global warming, increasing population, and the depletion of natural resources impose individual responsibilities on everyone regarding recycling. Perhaps we are not aware that the street waste pickers play a crucial role in recycling and waste utilization. We can say that they perform a societal duty in this regard. One of the aims of our project was to demonstrate the public's attitude towards street waste pickers, and we accomplished that. We believe that the findings obtained in Izmir are important in showing the overall attitude in Turkey.”