Packaging bill approved for final committee readings

Measure would hold manufacturers, importers directly responsible for recycling.''

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
December 21, 2010 05:12
3 minute read.
RECYCLING PLASTIC bottles, such as these, costs th

Recycling Station 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The proposed Packaging Law was approved for its second and third (final) readings by the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Monday after dozens of hours of discussions spent hammering out the details.

The main thrust of the bill is to shift responsibility for recycling to manufacturers and importers over the entire lifetime of the product – including recycling its packaging.

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The legislation represents a serious upgrade to the recycling system. Currently, paper, plastic bottles and glass bottles from restaurants and other establishments that are recycled under the Deposit Law are the easiest for the user to recycle.

Cans, electronics, batteries and CDs can be dropped off at some urban recycling centers but are not as accessible as the receptacles that have been set up on city streets for paper and plastic bottles.

The Packaging Law will require an entirely new system for people to dispose of their garbage – source separation.

Residents will be provided with suitable trash cans to separate their garbage into “wet” and “dry.”

“Wet” trash is anything organic, while “dry” is the rest, much of which will now be dealt with under the Packaging Law.

Quotas have been set for types of trash over the next four years. The legislation will outlaw interring any sort of packaging in landfills by 2020.

Packaging represents about a million out of the 4 million-5 million tons of urban waste Israelis generate per year, according to the Environmental Protection Ministry. It represents a large proportion of the volume in landfills.

The goal is to recycle at least 60 percent of packaging within four years. Specifically, the goal is to recycle at least 60% of cardboard and paper, 50% of glass, 22.5% of plastic and 12% of wood by 2014.

The Federation of Chambers of Commerce complained that the six months given to begin implementing the legislation after it becomes law was not enough time to set up a corporation to deal with the recycling of packaging and to institute source separation.

The federation also argued for, and received, clarification that administrative fines and penalties would be instituted before criminal ones.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan lauded the development.

“Israel joins the most advanced countries in the world today. Instead of burying in the ground raw materials worth NIS 1 billion every year, the packaging will be collected from residents’ houses and recycled. Implementing the law will add thousands of new jobs and placing responsibility for recycling on the manufacturers and importers will allow the public to take an active part in the recycling process, through separating garbage into different trash bins,” Erdan said in a statement.

Several European countries adopted a packaging law over a decade ago, and some, such as Belgium, have reached recycling rates of 95%.

The ministry estimates that the law will generate 20,000- 50,000 jobs at a rate of 10-15 new positions per 1,000 tons of waste.

Amit Bracha, head of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam, Teva V’din), praised Erdan for pushing the bill through to its final readings.

A private member’s bill that was partly written by IUED was merged with the government- backed measure during the committee’s deliberations.

“Approving the Packaging Law in the Knesset plenum will be an important step in completing the recycling revolution in Israel. There is no doubt that this law, in conjunction with the Deposit Law and a bill regarding electronic waste that is being promoted now, will put Israel on the list of Western countries that understand the importance of dealing with waste and understand its value as a resource,” Bracha said in a statement.

Erdan has made waste treatment one of the top five goals of his ministry.

Meanwhile, the Ela recycling corporation has posted an interactive map to help people find the recycling receptacles closest to their home. The map can be found on the corporation’s website, www.ela.org.il.


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