Israel celebrates a decade of recycling

Over five billion bottles recycled prevented over half a million tons of plastic from getting to country's landfills.

November 1, 2012 05:57
2 minute read.
Recycling bins outside TA school

Recycling 311. (photo credit: Courtesy ELA)


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Israelis have recycled over five billion beverage containers over the past decade, since recycling activities began in Israel.

The total amount of bottles recycled, equivalent to six Azrieli Towers, has prevented over half a million tons of plastic from making its way into the country’s landfills, according to ELA, Israel’s Recycling Corporation, which has been overseeing the recycling process. From the bottles recycled, the public has saved over NIS 1.2 billion, ELA reported.

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“Israel has conducted a revolution in the past decade – more than 50% of beverage containers that are consumed are recycled,” said Nehama Ronen, chairwoman of ELA.

“This figure is higher than that of many other countries in the world,” she said.

Of the 5 billion beverage bottles recycled in the past decade, 4.4 billion of them were either the result of required recycling, or were handed in for recycling tempted by the receipt of bottle deposit fees. These containers consisted of 1.4 billion glass bottles, 1.5 billion plastic bottles and 1.45 billion cans.

The other 750 million deposits were all voluntary, ELA data said. Containers used by families – predominantly 1.5-liter bottles – have been voluntarily recycled and altogether represent 33,000 tons of plastic.

There are currently about 18,000 recycling bins stationed in more than 300 cities and towns across the country, as well as 21 urban stations for bottle collection that ELA maintains. The recycling station in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood receives approximately 8 million containers each year, according to the ELA data.

Around the country, 30 trucks patrol for recycling collection each day, and every truck can carry up to 120,000 containers at once. The recycling record occurred this year, when the trucks collected 3.12 million bottles in a single day, the company said.

Educational, military and other organizations account for 12% percent of the annual recycling effort, and in the past decade, students have collection about 20 million containers in parks and schools. The school to return the most containers is the Beit Rachel Strauss School in Jerusalem, which has turned in 640,000 containers over the years, the ELA data said.

Taking a look at school demographics, students from the Arab-Israeli sector have recycled over 1.4 million containers, students from the ultra-Orthodox community have recycled over 3.3 million containers and students from the general public have brought in over 13.6 million containers, according to ELA.

In return for their deposits, the students have received a total of NIS 5.5 million for their schools.

Meanwhile, the IDF has collected over 7.6 million containers, with the reigning army recycling champion being Unit 8200.

Comparing Israel to the rest of the world, the country recycles 50.3% of all polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, more than the United States at 29.3% and almost as high as Europe at 51%, according to the company.

“Recycling has become an integral part of the daily life of the public in Israel and we can certainly say that we have a country that recycles,” Ronen said.

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