Israelis recycled approximately 29 large plastic bottles per person in 2012, a 7 percent boost in their recycling behavior from the previous year, new data from the ELA recycling corporation reveals.

ELA and Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) jointly released a survey of the country’s plastic bottle recycling behaviors for 2012 on Sunday night, in conjunction with the latter’s Fifth Annual National Recycling Conference held during the day on Monday. On average, each Israeli citizen recycled about 29 family-sized (1.5 liter) bottles – or 1.26 kilograms of plastic – during 2012, in comparison to the approximately 27 bottles that they recycled in the year 2011, the data said. In line with the survey results, the two organizations also granted “Outstanding Recycling Badges” to several municipalities and regional councils whose residents recycled bottles on a significant scale.

The Central Arava Regional Council topped the charts for 1.5 liter bottle recycling, achieving an average of 139 bottles – or 5.85 kg. – per person for the year. Trailing Central Arava in this sector was Hevel Eilot Regional Council, with 86 bottles – or 3.62 kg. – per person for the year, and Binyamina-Givat Ada, with 82 bottles – or 3.47 kg. – per person for the year.

The municipality with the highest number of the 1.5 liter bottles collected in total in 2012 was Sha’arei Tikva, with 50,178 bottles, followed by Elkana with 41,888 bottles and Givat Shmuel with 41,283 bottles, according to the organizations.

Also receiving merit badges were those cities and local authorities that showed the greatest transformation in their recycling sectors.

Among the local and regional authorities, Kafr Kasim showed an increase in 240% recycling half liter bottles from 2011 to 2012, with residents recycling 1.7 tons in total instead of their former total of a half ton. Also showing marked improvement was Sedot Negev, with a 203% rise, and Shfaram, with a 195% rise, the data said.

In the cities category, Modi’in Illit showed the biggest improvement, with an 87% increase in bottles deposited per person for the year – 23 in 2012 compared with 12 in 2011. Ramle bottle recycling rose 62%, while Tiberias recycling rose 57%.

“The extraordinary success of the recycling revolution in plastic bottles brings Israel in line with Western European countries, where the process began two decades ago, and Israel passes the United States,” said Nehama Ronen, chairwoman of ELA. “There is no doubt that the success of the revolution is in no small amount thanks to the children, who are the most enthusiastic ambassadors of the recycling subject today.”

In the past decade since ELA was established and under the framework of the Bottle Deposit Law that was initiated by Adam Teva V’Din, the Israeli population has recycled more than 5.5 billion family-sized bottles and other bottles requiring deposit. In the last year, ELA has added 3,000 new recycling bins in 90 municipal and regional authorities across the country, bringing the national total to 19,000 recycling bins, the company said.

While the data demonstrates that many cities and local authorities have internalized the importance of recycling and mobilizing toward environmental protection, the Israeli public still faces an enormous challenge in reducing the amount of waste it generates, according to Amit Bracha, executive director of Adam Teva V’Din.

“Hundreds of thousands of kilograms of plastic bottles that are collected each month only reminds us how important it is to consume less and to reach a state of ‘zero trash,’” Bracha said.

Meanwhile, although plastic bottle collection has become increasingly successful, the mayors of cities and heads of local authorities must work to promote programs that will encourage the separation of household organic and packaging waste at source, which together constitute 60% of municipal waste, added Gilad Ostrovsky, head of waste and recycling at Adam Teva V’Din.

“The success of bottle recycling proves that the public is prepared to invest in and work for the environment,” Ostrovsky said.

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