To solve a growing garbage problem, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee has adopted a master plan for transforming solid waste “from nuisance to resource” by establishing a treatment facility in an industrial area in the Jerusalem region, the Interior Ministry announced on Monday.

The Jerusalem district produces about 1,400 tons of garbage every day, all of which is currently transported to the Abu Dis landfill, in the Ma’aleh Adumim district, and to other waste transfer stations outside the region. Abu Dis is overflowing with trash and is expected to close by the first half of 2013, according to the Interior Ministry.

Already, as of June, the Environmental Protection Ministry reduced trash shipments from Jerusalem to Abu Dis to 750 tons daily and to 400 tons in October.

By April, no Jerusalem garbage will be entering Abu Dis, and only 300 tons from around the country total will arrive there.

After reviewing the proposed master plan for a waste treatment facility, the committee, under the direction of Dalit Zilber, decided to adopt its measures, which stipulate the plant be built in an industrial area only, and that no open space be rezoned for this purpose.

Among the likely choices for the facility’s locations are Jerusalem’s Atarot industrial area and the Nahum industrial zone near Beit Shemesh. Alongside the facility’s construction will be a host of co-requisite environmental tests in order to prevent any disturbance to the surrounding nature and residents, according to the Interior Ministry.

As of April, the firm Jerusalem Wastewater Purification Enterprises, a subsidiary of the city’s Hagihon water company, had reported that after signing a contract with the city, it was in the initial stages of planning a solid waste treatment facility for the region, likely to end up in the Atarot zone. At that point, environmental and engineering consulting firm DHV had suggested five options for managing the city’s trash – the second of which was the one chosen:

1. Transferring solid waste directly for burial at the Mishor Rotem landfill site in the South.

2. Using mechanical-biological treatment, where mixed solid waste is mechanically sorted at a transfer station into dry, recyclable parts, as well as a liquid stream that undergoes anaerobic digestion.

3. Separating waste at the household stage, and then sending the dry waste for recycling and the liquid waste for anaerobic digestion.

4. Separating the waste at the household stage, but using composting rather than anaerobic digestion for the liquids.

5. A combination of the second and third options, in which separation at the household stage will increase gradually until it reaches 34 percent by 2020.

The new master plan was drafted by a steering committee that included representation from the Interior Ministry, Environmental Protection Ministry, the local authorities of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, the Israel Lands Authority and the Health Ministry.

Zilber praised the comprehensive work that went into the master plan’s preparation, according to her office, and said she was confident the project will provide a long-term, sustainable solution to the solid waste problem in the district.

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