Construction begins at Atarot recycling plant

State-of-the-art facility to begin accepting Jerusalem’s trash upon closure of Abu Dis site.

The Atarot recycling center 370 (photo credit: Rubinstein-Ofer Architects)
The Atarot recycling center 370
(photo credit: Rubinstein-Ofer Architects)
In the concrete oasis of Atarot in Jerusalem’s north, Environmental Protection Ministry officials and industry entrepreneurs on Monday laid the cornerstone for the future recycling center that aims to replace the increasingly problematic – but soon to be terminated – Abu Dis landfill.
The overflowing Abu Dis landfill, located just east of Jerusalem, is slated to close down on December 15.
In addition to receiving all of Jerusalem’s garbage, the landfill currently absorbs waste from other towns in the region as well as from some Palestinian villages.
In order to provide a more environmentally friendly solution for the capital’s garbage, the company Greenet has begun constructing a state-of-the-art NIS 60 million recycling facility in the Atarot neighborhood, which includes an NIS 17.6m. contribution from the ministry.
“This is really the hi-tech of garbage,” Yossi Israeli-Shalev, the CEO of Greenet, told launch ceremony participants at the site on Monday afternoon.
Once constructed, the new facility will take in approximately 1,200 tons of garbage every day from Jerusalem proper, with some additional trash coming from nearby Mevaseret Zion and Abu Ghosh, Israeli-Shalev told The Jerusalem Post following the ceremony.
The maximum amount of waste that the facility will be able to handle is 1,500 tons daily, he explained.
Greenet is jointly owned by two other companies – the Teco Group, which specializes in recycling, and YSB, an infrastructure firm.
When the plant begins to operate this December upon the closure of Abu Dis, it will initially simply act as a waste transfer station, allowing the city’s waste to go from small urban trucks to larger intercity trucks that carry the waste to other disposal sites, Israeli- Shalev said.
In around September 2014, however, the plant will begin performing in full capacity its role as a sorting facility with high-end technology that enables recycling up to European standards, he continued.
Approximately two years from now, the company will launch Israel’s anaerobic digestion facility at the site, with an additional NIS 25m. grant from the ministry, Israeli-Shalev said.
Meanwhile, the municipality will also be opening a visitors center for children to teach about treating waste and recycling, he explained.
Israeli-Shalev praised the city of Jerusalem for choosing to handle the brunt of its garbage within its own bounds. In addition to saving money on transportation and landfill levies, the city will also be able to provide more than 100 places of work for people at the plant, he said.
“The way we see it, it’s a very good and responsible act to treat waste inside your city,” Israeli-Shalev added.
“We don’t want NIMBY – not in my backyard.”
Excluding that of east Jerusalem, the Palestinian waste coming into Abu Dis will not be going to the Atarot recycling center in Jerusalem. Rather, it will go to a brand new landfill in Al- Maniya – near Gush Etzion – which is slated to open in mid-December as well, the ministry said.
After the El-Bireh governorate’s Psagot landfill shut down in early August, the waste formerly dumped there was temporarily reassigned to go to Abu Dis and Zahrat al- Finjan, until the Al-Maniya site opens. However, the El- Bireh trash is not actually moving adequately to Abu Dis and Zahrat Al-Finjan as planned, and the civil administration said that there are plans to build a transfer station soon.
As far as Jerusalem’s future Atarot site goes, however, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz urged Greenet to develop the facility as quickly as possible, as “caring for the environment is caring for society.”
“Jerusalem is a city with a very big challenge because it is one of the poorest cities, where there are very difficult environmental problems, primarily due to the diverse population – Arabs, ultra- Orthodox, other populations,” Peretz told the Post following the ceremony.
“This facility will definitely achieve an important goal, but it will need to have the cooperation of the city’s residents, because without this it will be very hard to advance here in Jerusalem. I hope that we are in the right direction,” added.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat stressed that this project will contribute to the positive changes that the city is continually working to implement.
Like Israeli-Shalev, he, too, stressed the importance of maintaining the site within the municipality’s bounds.
In terms of waste management, Barkat said, Jerusalem has the potential to go from being “the tail of the state to the head of the state.”
“We will do everything we can to help this project succeed,” Barkat added. “This is a day of celebration in Jerusalem.”