Despite its posh upcycled art installation, a quick visit to Israel’s Hiria dump demonstrates the extent to which materials that could be recycled, and should be recycled, are instead buried. There are cages available in some neighborhoods where people can stash their plastic bags and bottles, and sometimes batteries, and Koala Recycling Solutions recently started an aluminum recycling program, but mostly, Israel’s recycling system needs serious help. That could change if the Knesset approves a new law that puts the onus of recycling on the manufacturers’ shoulder.The Environment Protection Ministry will require local and international manufacturers to ensure the packaging used for their products is collected and recycled. It does not matter whether the packaging is reused, burned for energy, or recycled. It only matters that it does not land in the dump.
If passed, the law will ensure that Israel no longer wastes nearly $300 million dollars worth of raw materials each year, according to the Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
“Instead of burying raw materials worth a billion shekels in the ground every year, the packaging will be collected from citizens’ homes and recycled. Implementing the law will add thousands of new jobs,” he told Haaretz.
Companies will be responsible for collecting and recycling paper, glass, plastic, and metal, but local citizens will have to step up to the plate as well. Even if the Environment Ministry provides the tools to sort and recycle waste, some kind of measures will be necessary to educate the public about the merits of recycling. Judging by Friday morning shopping excursions, where everyone and their grandmother troop around the souqs with armfuls of plastic bags, this will be no easy feat.
This law could also create a regulatory nightmare if local citizens don’t fulfill their end of the bargain, by sorting their waste into provided receptacles, and companies have to foot the bill for their apathy.
Still, it’s an important step, because manufacturers will be forced to become more innovative with their packaging. Perhaps biodegradable cartons will become more mainstream, or perhaps companies will use less.
To begin with, companies will have to account for 60% of the packaging they generate, and by 2020, the goal is to recycle 100% of all packaging so that literally nothing goes to waste. Failure to do so could cost nearly $700 per ton of waste.
A mighty impressive step in the right direction if it passes, and if everyone plays fair.
More on the Hadera dump and recycling in Israel:
image via kevingessner