A different equation: Losing jobs

The law would solve one problem by creating another.

Eyal Dekel, Secretary-General of the Society of Israel Plastics and Rubber Industry, doubts how effective Henin's legislation will be in actually reducing the amount of plastic bag wastage. According to Dekel, only 40 percent of Israel's population buy plastic garbage bags for household trash. He asserts that the remaining 60% reuse plastic shopping bags as garbage bags. He says that if people stop using plastic supermarket bags, they will revert to buying plastic garbage bags. The law would thereby solve one problem by creating another. Dekel estimates that the proposed law would therefore reduce the total waste of plastic bags by only 5%. However, this simple analysis does not take into account the fact that not every plastic supermarket bag gets reused as a garbage bag. It does not consider whether the number of plastic bags taken each day from the supermarket (approximately 2.2 bags per person) really equals the number of bags required per person for their daily garbage. If the law were successful in stopping people from using plastic shopping bags, 200 - 300 plastics industry employees could potentially lose their jobs, according to Dekel. Dekel suggested an alternative solution to Israel's plastic bag waste. He recommends following the lead of certain European countries, where each household has separate bins for recyclables and garbage. A "small tax" could be charged for garbage collectors to pick up the recyclables separately, he said. This would make it convenient for householders to recycle, and reduce the amount of garbage that reaches the landfill. Alternatively, more work could go into sifting through mixed garbage to extract recyclables. Perhaps the solution is not one at the expense of the other. It is possible for Israel to address the plastic bag problem through Henin's proposed legislation and - additionally - provide each household with separate bins for recyclables and waste. "There is never only one solution," said Olander.