Environment, Economy ministers compromise on free plastic bag eradication

Ban on free disposable bags was approved in July; Bennett says while law is important, consumers should not be hurt.

Environmentally friendly bag (Illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Environmentally friendly bag (Illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Removing an obstacle that threatened to impede the widescale reduction of plastic bag use, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett reached a compromise on Sunday regarding the cost of such bags to consumers.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved in mid-July a bill proposed by Peretz that would ban free disposable bags, initially stipulating that all grocery stores would need to charge at least 40 agorot per plastic bag.
Voicing concern about the potential impact on consumers, Bennett filed an appeal against the bill in its original form.
On Sunday, however, the ministers agreed to lower the prices on the plastic bags. Assuming the Knesset approves the legislation, for the first two years consumers will have to pay only 30 agorot per bag – a price that will then drop to 20 agorot. Four years after the bill is legislated, the tariff will again drop and stand permanently at 10 agorot, the ministries said.
“There is no dispute on the importance of the Bag Law, but we wanted to implement it without disproportionally hurting consumers,” Bennett said.
“According to our agreement with the minister of environmental protection, the tariff was lowered to NIS 0.10 as we demanded in our appeal. I believe reducing the cost of living should guide every decision we make as a government and as legislators, and this was the case here.”
The compromise between Bennett and Peretz comes just a week-and-a-half after the CEOs of several grocery chains pledged to purchase Environmental Protection Ministry sponsored reusable bags, to distribute for free in their stores upon the bill’s Knesset authorization.
Assuming the bill does pass, households are set to receive two coupons, likely in their electricity bills, for a total of seven reusable bags that they can pick up at stores.
The bags are slated to be of two types: the first, a 15-kg. “stylish” bag made of Dacron – the material used for military uniforms – that can be folded into a multipack, and the second, a 20-kg. “tough” bag made of polyethylene material similar to that of the bags sold in Ikea. The bags will be equipped with shoulder straps and will include slogans on their sides discouraging the use of disposable alternatives.
“The use of plastic bags has become a dangerous and pollution- inducing addiction,” Peretz said. “The entire government is now united to rid Israel of plastic bags, aligning it with the most progressive countries in the sector. I am sensitive to the claims by bag manufacturers in Israel and will see to it that they are compensated so that they sustain little financial damage and will become part of the answer in the new market that will be created.”