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The average Israeli produces more than one and a half kilograms of garbage every day, the environment ministry reported on Wednesday.
According to the ministry's annual report, Israelis produced some 5.7 million tons of waste in 2005 - an average of 560 kg per person per year, or 1.53 kg of garbage per day. The figures include industrial waste.
Plastics make up about 35% by volume of the garbage disposed of in Israel, while paper products and cardboard account for about 29% (1995 figures). Organic waste makes up 15% by volume, but 38% by weight.
In 1993 the government ordered the closing of most of the country's smaller garbage dumps and the channeling of most solid waste to authorized disposal sites. Hundreds of dumps were closed down over the next decade or so, resulting in a shortage of available disposal space.
Environment Minister Gidon Ezra said the percentage of waste being collected for recycling has been growing in recent years. The rate of recycling has gone up from just three percent of total waste collected in the early 1990s to 23% in 2005.
Israel lags several years behind Europe and the United States in recycling. Ezra estimated that a joint effort by the environment ministry and local authorities could increase the rate of recycling to 35% - the current level in the US - by 2010.
Currently, local authorities are required to collect at least 15% of waste for recycling.
Ezra said that recycling could be increased by levying a garbage disposal tax and by encouraging the development of new recycling technologies. A garbage tax would help defray the true cost of disposal, he said, which includes associated costs - such as air and water pollution - not paid by the consumer.
Israel employs a combined plan known as Integrated Solid Waste Management that aims to make waste disposal more efficient. The plan combines traditional burial of solid waste in dump sites with efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle waste materials.
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