In a move that could significantly reduce the presence of plastic bags in Israel, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Monday approved Environment Protection Minister Amir Peretz’s proposal to ban their free distribution.
The government bill would mandate that every disposable plastic bag would cost consumers 40 agorot. Prior to enforcing a ban on free plastic bags, however, the ministry would supply multi-use baskets for distribution at retail chains for a limited time period.
All funds generated by the plastic bag purchases would go to financing the program, as well as compensating the producers of one-time use plastic bags, the ministry said.
“Shopping without bags is the cleanest shopping,” said Peretz. “Soon there will be no excuse for anyone. It’s time to become a part of progressive countries whose citizens have understood that the minimal comfort they received from free bags in the past will create severe harm to the environment and great damage to our children’s future.”
Plastic bags are distributed free of charge to customers, though their estimated total annual cost is about NIS 80 million and influences the prices of products in stores, the ministry explained.
According to a ministry poll, more than 70% of Israelis support an end to free plastic bag distribution. Currently, each Israeli uses about 275 plastic bags each per year, totaling approximately 2.2 billion bags annually for the entire country, the ministry said.
If the bill becomes law, fines against violators could amount to thousands of shekels, the ministry added.
In response to the committee’s approval of the bill, the Forum of Plastic Bag Manufacturers accused the Environmental Protection Ministry of taking advantage of the security situation to hit manufacturers and consumers negatively, adding that Economy Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to oppose the bill.
“Despite our request to allow representatives of the manufacturers to present their arguments about the bill, the Environmental Protection Ministry did not permit many of the manufacturers’ representatives, who are under missile attack, to attend a meeting last week on the subject,” a statement from the forum said. “We demand that the Environmental Protection Ministry curb the promotion of the bill.”