Overhaul planned for treatment of building, demolition waste

Just 2 million of the 7.5 million tons of waste produced per year in Israel reach official sites.

October 29, 2008 20:53
2 minute read.
Overhaul planned for treatment of building, demolition waste

construction 88 224. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Environmental Protection Ministry is working on an arrangement to transfer responsibility for hauling away construction and demolition (C&D) waste to the local authorities in the coming months. At present, responsibility lies with the individual or contractor, a largely unsatisfactory situation because most C&D waste does not reach authorized sites, Uri Tal, the ministry's coordinator of C&D waste treatment, told The Jerusalem Post this week. Just 2 million of the 7.5 million tons of waste produced per year in Israel reach official sites, Tal said. Of that 2 million, 1 million is recycled and about another million is deposited in landfills. The rest is dumped illegally all over the country, frequently on the side of the road in nature reserves and other deserted areas. The waste constitutes both a serious health risk, as particles are released, and a blight on the country's open spaces. Over and above pirate dumpers, there is another problem, explained Momi Zach, CEO of the C&D waste recycling company Ecology. Much of the recycled material doesn't get sold and languishes in warehouses instead. Ecology treats about half of the 800,000 tons that are recycled. "Recycled material is never sold as grade A, even if it might be high quality. It is usually sold as grade B or C, which is much cheaper," he told the Post. Ecology, which has a factory at the Hiriya site near Tel Aviv, has an agreement with the Ariel Sharon Park to buy most of its product. Ariel Sharon Park (formerly the Ayalon Park) is in the process of being built. However, Zach said, other companies did not have such contracts and were struggling as a result. Tal acknowledged that there was little market for recycled material. "The word 'waste' in the title makes it suspect," he said, adding that the biggest customer should be the state, but it was taking time to convince the ministries. "The Treasury and the Transportation Ministry are slowly coming around to our view," but there is still a ways to go, Tal said. The state road-building authority uses some recycled material but not enough, he said, and Israel Railways has committed to using recycled waste, but has yet to do so. Tal said he hoped to have an agreement with the local authorities worked out in the coming months to take responsibility for C&D waste, as they do for household waste. In the meantime, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) and the Forum 15 - the forum of independent cities in Israel - have spent the past two years producing draft regulations that spell out how the local authority would handle waste. It was not clear what the connection was between the regulations and the deal Tal was working on. IUED solid waste specialist Gilad Ostrovsky told the Post that the ministry was actually opposed to the draft regulations. Tal refused to comment directly on IUED and the Forum 15's efforts. "We need to totally change the rules of the game - giving municipalities the responsibility to deal with C&D waste is the cure to the disease. Enforcement is important, but not enough by itself," he said.

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