It's not too late to rectify environment minister's surrender to big business, green activist says

Its not too late to rec

Israel Union for Environmental Defense head Tzipi Iser Itzik told The Jerusalem Post Monday that it was not too late for Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) to correct the agreement he had reached with the bottling companies regarding recycling. Erdan plans to submit a correction to the Deposit Law for Knesset Economic Affairs Committee approval on Tuesday after reaching an agreement with the Central Bottling Company. "It's not too late for him to change it," she said. Iser Itzik slammed the agreement itself, saying: "It's basically the same agreement that [previous environmental protection minister] Gideon Ezra (Kadima) tried to push forward. We attacked him and he capitulated to the pressure and stop trying to advance it. Now, Erdan is pushing it." When we met with him last Thursday, he realized that he had gone too far in acquiescing to the bottling companies demands, she said. She blasted the agreement for its less than ambitious goals, attributing them to Erdan's capitulation to Shas and Coca-Cola, which owns the Central Bottling Corporation. The draft agreement worked out between Erdan and Roni Kovrovsky, the president of Coca-Cola, does have some new elements to it, which would improve recycling. However, its major flaw is that it does not include 1.5 liter or larger bottles into the Deposit Law, which would ensure a far higher recycling rate for them. At present, only bottles smaller than 1.5 liter are returnable to stores for an NIS 0.25 deposit. For the first time, the manufacturing and import companies would accept the legal responsibility for recycling bottles. The new agreement would also readjust the collection goal for ELA, the recycling corporation, from 85% to 70% in 2010 and gradually rising to 77% by 2014. Of the bottles collected, the goal would be to recycle 90% of them. If the company does not meet the goals, then there would be a fine per every bottle not collected. According to the agreement, the deposit fee for bottles under 1.5 liters will be increased to NIS 0.30 from NIS 0.25. However, bottles 1.5 liters and bigger will still not be included under the Deposit Law. Shas has objected to bumping the price of bottles up by 30 agorot because they contend it would be a huge burden on their constituency, which buys dozens of such bottles a month. Shas apparently ignores the fact that the difference would have been made up if their constituents, large haredi families, had returned the empty bottles and received the deposit fee. However, the drink manufacturers have agreed to be held responsible for recycling the bigger bottles even if the Deposit Law does not include them. While the law will mandate 50% of bigger bottles collected starting December 31, 2013, the companies would begin collecting in 2010 starting at 28% and gradually work up to half by 2013. However, without inclusion under the Deposit Law, it is up to the individual to bring them to the receptacles in their neighborhood. The companies also agreed to add another 12,000 receptacles around the country by 2014 in addition to the 8,000 which exist today. They also agreed to pay for educational and PR efforts to encourage recycling. Iser Itzik also criticized the fact that the entire draft agreement was conditioned on the recycling corporation receiving the approval of the Israel Antitrust Authority. "That prevents competition in the market and green initiatives," she said.