(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Environmental Protection Ministry has begun encouraging another step in shifting the country from dumping its garbage to recycling it.
The ministry has set aside money from its Cleanliness Preservation Fund over the next three years to build sorting stations and organic material recycling factories across the country. Last week, about 100 interested people attended a workshop on how they could apply for the funds.
Reduce, reuse, recycle is the second part of the ministry's plan to regulate and standardize waste treatment in Israel. The first phase was to create official landfills for municipal and industrial use. That project began in the 1990s and culminated in 2007 with a dumping levy for each ton of material deposited.
Phase 2 of the plan is to encourage recycling infrastructure both within communities and cities, and to build larger facilities to treat waste outside population centers.
Last year, the ministry put aside NIS 40 million to help municipalities build recycling infrastructure, such as receptacles for paper and bottles as well as recycling centers for glass, cans and plastic.
This year, the ministry has allocated as much as NIS 105m. for the planning and construction of larger sorting stations and for factories to deal with organic waste. Wednesday's workshop helped entrepreneurs and other interested parties understand how to apply for the grants.
The money for recycling projects comes from the dumping levy.
The ministry's initiative gets its impetus from a basic fact: landfill space is running out. Therefore, a change in policy is a must rather than just another environmental objective.
Organic matter comprises about 40 percent of household trash, so the ministry has decided to focus on recycling it to reduce the amount of garbage dumped in landfills. The overall goal is to reduce the amount of garbage dumped in landfills by 50% or more by 2020.
The highest quality organic matter from households is received when it is separated at the source by the family members before being thrown away, according to the ministry document detailing the criteria for receiving funds. Therefore, what the ministry is looking to encourage is the separation of garbage into two streams: the dry and the wet.
Every household would have two separate garbage cans: dry material could be thrown away or recycled in ways that are available now - paper, glass, cans, plastic bottle recycling - and eventually packaging. Wet material would be transferred to a recycling factory to either become compost or anaerobically treated to produce gas for energy.
"We are looking to encourage larger factories which deal with the waste from several different municipalities or authorities [rather than a local factory]," Naama Ashur Ben-Ari, head of recycling at the ministry, told The Jerusalem Post the day after the conference.
At present, there are no recycling factories in Israel. There are a number of sorting stations dotted throughout the country.
"The minimum size factory eligible to be funded is one which can handle 250 tons of organic matter per day from at least 167,000 residents," she said. Factories can cost anywhere from NIS 20m. to NIS 200m., she added.
Another focus of the plan is to encourage the recycling of construction and demolition waste (C&DW). While some of it is dumped properly, much of it ends up being discarded on the sides of roads in nature reserves where truckers can operate unseen. Part of the funds will be available for turning C&DW into recycled aggregate, according to Ashur Ben-Ari.
Without educating the public, the factories will stand unused, so the funds are also available for all sorts of publicity campaigns.
Moreover, while recycling is good, reducing consumption and reusing items are better, so the campaigns will also have to try and change public attitudes to consumption in the first place.
Ashur Ben-Ari said she considered the workshop a success. There was a nice turnout and people asked good and interesting questions, she reflected.
Since requests only have to be filed by the end of October, the ministry has not yet received any, but Ashur Ben-Ari said it knew of many initiatives that would be applying for funds.