Developing Israel: The Hiriya project

From trash to treasure: Israel's Hiriya landfill is now a global symbol for environmental change.

Hiriya landfill (photo credit: courtesy)
Hiriya landfill
(photo credit: courtesy)
Israel’s infamous “garbage mountain” shone on the silver screen last month when a two-minute short film on its transformation from dump to destination took home first place at a ceremony in Durban, South Africa.
The film, called The Hiriya Project: A Mountain of Change produced by Eitan Dotan, won first place in the Clean Development Mechanism Changing Lives Photo and Video Contest 2011, which was part of this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which took place in Durban.
Narrated in a child’s voice, in English, the animated movie goes through the birth, demise, and remake of the Hiriya landfill, highlighting the dangers posed by the overwhelming amount of garbage there. It also presented the recycling facilities and park that sprawl above the trash and methane gases today. Dotan created Mountain of Change on behalf of the Hiriya Recycling Park and Dan Region Association of Towns.
"It’s really great what is happening here,” the young male narrator of the Israeli film begins, as a sign for 1953 appears on the screen.
"Once, this whole area was flat. Then all the garbage from the center of the country began to be dumped here. More garbage... and more garbage.”
On the screen, sketched gobs of lime green garbage appeared next to photographs of the real trash that had begun piling up 60 meters high.
"It grew into a mountain of garbage. It was huge and really stank,” the boy continues.
The boy warns that the problems caused by the garbage mountain, such as toxic gases seeping into the atmosphere, were by no means over, as gases were still dangerously escaping into the air. To solve this issue, the Dan Region Association of Towns took charge by drilling 84 wells throughout the mountain, which began capturing gas and transferring it to a nearby factory that required “good clean energy.”
"A landfill, producing a biogas, uses it for the factory. The land pipeline sits six kilometers away from here. It’s unbelievable, a huge success,” comments Moran Ben-Ziv, CEO of Ayalon Bio-Gas.
The narrator adds, in amazement, as rays of orange and blue sunlight beam up from the ground, “Who ever thought that garbage could power up a whole factory?” Afterwards, the Hiriya recycling park was soon opened on the former landfill grounds, as was an environmental education center for visiting children like himself, the boy explains.
"Coming here and seeing all of these children and youngsters getting more aware about environmental problems is the most important thing there is,” adds Doron Sapir, deputy mayor of Tel Aviv.
The movie pans from video footage of visiting children to the wooden pergolas set up on the top of the mountain today before showing a sweeping view of the greenery that now sprawls over its surface.
"The mountain now rises as a symbol, a reminder, that big problems can be solved with the help of creative ideas. And environmental change is possible.”