Israelis recycled 50 percent of the country’s plastic bottles in 2011, overtaking Europe and the United States, with figures of 48% and 29%, respectively, the ELA recycling company reported.While the country only recycled about 16,000 tons of plastic PET bottles in 2010, the 2011 figures reached about 20,000 tons, according to ELA.In total, Israel collected about 77% of all beverage containers – plastic and glass – requiring deposit in 2011, exceeding the government’s target of 73% and amounting to about 600 million beverage containers, ELA said. Families recycled about 41% of their total beverage containers in the same year, also surpassing a target of 35% and equivalent to about 300 million beverage containers. This week, the four billionth such beverage container was deposited.“A year since the Packaging Law came into force – we succeeded in surpassing the goals set for us by the Environmental Protection Ministry,” said Nehama Ronen, chairwoman of ELA.Through recycling efforts that have been everincreasing in the past 10 years, the public has returned to itself about NIS 1.04 billion worth of bottles, ELA reported. In the past year alone, 140 municipalities and regional councils across the country – including 20 new participants – installed about 4,400 new recycling bins, bringing the country’s total number of bins to about 15,000, according to ELA data. Bnei Brak alone went from having only seven bins to installing another 400.The most successful recycling cities in 2011 were Kiryat Ono and Givat Shmuel, each with families recycling 2.2 kg. per person; and Tel Aviv, 2.1 kg.per person. The most successful regional councils were the Arava, 3.7 kg. per person; Yoav, 3.4 kg.per person; and Kfar Shmaryahu, 3.2 kg. per person.“On the eve of the implementation of a waste separation law in Israel, this data demonstrates that the Israeli public is committed to the subject of recycling and to the separation of say, waste, for the garbage and bottles to the recycling bin,” Ronen said, referring to a separation of wet and dry garbage that the Environmental Protection Ministry has been promoting.ELA attributes much of the recycling triumphs of late to a massive public relations campaign that reached the public throughout the past year, during which the number of those refusing to recycle at all fell from 14% to 9%. A recent study conducted by an external company called Geocartografia found that in addition to the 62% of the population that already had recycled, another 11% of respondents indicated that they began recycling bottles after they heard about the campaign.