Recycling programs in new ecology push – Jerusalem Post

By JTA/JESSICA STEINBERG 02/11/2012 00:50
Proponents of recycling say that little by little, Israelis are learning to become more conscious of their environment.
recycling in Jerusalem By Yossi Zamir/JTA

The still-new recycling center in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem is fairly quiet on a crisp winter afternoon. Several people drive in to drop off their recycling — from old printers and batteries to aluminum pans, plastic containers and cardboard — in bins clearly labeled for each type of material.

These people, however, are the outliers.

Queen of the urban compost heap

Most Jerusalemites don’t recycle at all. The city has no curbside recycling program and, as in the rest of Israel, recycling is not mandatory here.

“In the State of Israel, we’re used to just dumping our garbage,” Yakutiel Tzipori, a spokesperson for the Environment Ministry, told JTA. “We’re a developing country and everything else was more important, like security and defense; the environment just wasn’t at the top of the list. But now that’s changing.”

In 2011, the ministry received a relatively large influx of cash from the state budget — approximately $74 million — that helped pay for new recycling sorting facilities, bins for composting in certain cities and environmental education.

It may be a long road ahead, but proponents of recycling say that little by little, Israelis are learning to become more conscious of their environment.

Israel started its recycling program in 1999 with plastic bottle recycling cages on street corners, then a project of various youth movements that was later adopted by the municipalities. The government also implemented a deposit law for beverage containers, expanding a decades-old program that applied to some glass bottles to all glass and cans.

According to Chagit Hoshen, the marketing manager of ELA Recycling, the nonprofit organization that handles recycling collection countrywide, an average of 41 percent of plastic bottles were recycled in 2011.

It’s not just bottles.

The government is spending some $90 million on trial recycling programs for composting — separating wet and dry garbage — in 31 towns and cities, including infrastructure and local education.

It’ll be a while before Israelis in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are separating their garbage for curbside pickup because those cities still don’t have the infrastructure and budget for it, but they’re already moving ahead with composting.

Jerusalem has more than 20 communal composting gardens where residents can learn about gardening and bring their waste to be composted.

Oded Meshulam, who teaches seminars on compost and makes and sells composters, says composting is important “because wet, heavy garbage is a significant addition to the landfill.”

Modi’in, a city of some 75,000 midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, already is learning to compost.

With an environmentally aware population and the physical infrastructure to succeed, including large garbage rooms for apartment buildings and houses, as well as success in recycling paper and bottles, “we knew we wanted to cooperate,” said Eyal Shani of the city’s municipal environmental unit.

Modi’in is also home to Hava and Adam, an eight-acre ecological farm whose name plays on the biblical Adam and Eve and hava, the Hebrew word for farm. Established by local educators, environmentalists and social activists as an ecological educational center, the farm aims to live by example and has always composted, recycled and built with all of its waste or trash.

When Modi’in began planning its recycling program, it was clear that the Hava would be involved in teaching Modi’iners how to separate their waste at source.

Beginning last spring, the farm and municipality began gathering forces, finding people who were interested in learning and teaching kids and parents how to separate trash at home, using the brown composting bins being handed out by the city.

“When kids see me on the street they yell, ‘Brown bin, brown bin!’ ” said Jo Maissel, a tour guide and mother of three who now goes to classrooms and private homes to teach them how to use the bins. “My son calls me a ‘rubbish teacher.’”

There have been glitches, such as too much liquid gathering at the bottom of the bins (they advise putting a newspaper at the bottom), or confusion between the blue, brown and green bins in the communal garbage rooms, but residents mostly seem willing to take on composting.

But Modi’in is an unusual case.

“Just try this in a city like Beersheba,” Maissel said. “It’ll never happen.”

Modiin is investing approximately $400,000 per year for the program, on top of the $2.6 million or so it spends each year on sanitation removal. Yet there are the “hidden levies” every city pays for dumping garbage in landfills, Shani says. If the city really succeeds in separating garbage, its fines will be lowered.

“It’s a project that requires a change of behavior,” he said, “and that will be a big part of its success.”

Israeli ministers back bill mandating recycling of electronic scrap – Haaretz

Local government officials warn that the move is improperly funded, and may require hikes in municipal taxes to pay for them.
By Zafrir Rinat

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Monday approved a government-sponsored bill mandating that electronic scrap be recycled, paving the way for a Knesset vote on the issue.

The bill joins several others on recycling packaging, tires and soft-drink bottles, as well as regulations to separate organic waste ‏(food remnants‏), which are to be passed shortly.
recycling plant – Abdulalh Shama

The Zohar recycling plant in Acre.
Photo by: Abdulalh Shama

The Environmental Protection Ministry sees these bills as an environmental revolution, but local government officials warn that the moves are improperly funded, and may require hikes in municipal taxes to pay for them.

The bill approved on Sunday states that within five years, manufacturers and importers of electronic equipment will have to collect and recycle 40 percent of the weight of the electronic equipment they have sold or imported per year. The government-sponsored bill is to be unified with another bill on recycling electronic waste, presented by MK Nitzan Horowitz ‏(Meretz‏). That bill, which Horowitz initiated together with the Union for Environmental Defense, would allow consumers to return products to the stores where they bought them, and the stores would then send them to be recycled.

There are only a few industries in Israel that currently collect and recycle electronic scrap. One such company is located at Kibbutz Yasur and employs people with special needs who turn the materials into usable products.
Electric scrap info

Another is Zohar Recycling Industries in Acre. “We take in thousands of tons of refuse containing products like computers or military communications equipment,” Arthur Hirschfeld, a company director, said yesterday, adding that the company then extracts metals such as gold, copper and aluminum and sells them to factories in Israel or abroad.

The business is “definitely profitable,” Hirschfeld said.

According to the Union for Environmental Defense, Israel produces about 100,000 tons of electronic scrap per year. The toxic metals in the scrap constitute an environmental hazard, but most of them can be recycled, the group says.
Gilad Ostrovsky, of the Union for Environmental Defense, says: “The law requires importers and manufacturers to reach a collection quota and therefore they will be willing to pay more to the recycling company. We see that such moves have already influenced the big companies, which are now making equipment that can be dismantled for recycling.”

According to the Environmental Protection Ministry’s Tal Shohat, rather than consumers putting electronic scrap in collection bins like other recyclable materials, they will bring them to centers or back to the store where they bought them.

“We support these moves and understand them, but we are very concerned that this has happened too quickly and local authorities will not be able to manage,” Shlomo Dolberg, director general of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, said Sunday, referring to the cost of building the necessary infrastructure.
Dolberg points out as an example the bill for recycling packaging, which, he says, places greater financial responsibility on the local authorities than on the industries. He says that local authorities fear they will have to raise municipal taxes to paytheir share.

The Union of Local Authorities says that the bill mandating the separation of organic waste would require a collection and separation system that would cost almost NIS 1 billion. The agency says the money the Environmental Protection Ministry is contributing toward the cost is not enough.

According to Dolberg, the Environmental Protection Ministry is trying to achieve in a few years what it took Europe a decade to accomplish, and that more long-term and comprehensive planning is required.

The Environmental Protection Ministry says it is planning a number of moves that will help local authorities deal with recycling. More than NIS 300 million have been given to 31 local authorities recently to separate dry and wet waste. Funding was also provided to plan and built recycling facilities for the separated waste.

“We’ve given quite a long time for getting organized, about 10 years, for separating and treating organic waste. Local authorities very much wanted to get in on the process and we had to reject some requests,” Shohat said, adding that the project would be started in major population centers.

Naama Ashur, head of the waste department the Environmental Protection Ministry, said she understands the concerns of the local authorities, but adds:

“They will really have to undergo a change, and instead of depending on one contractor for all garbage removal, they will have to separate it. But that will require them to streamline and in the end it might not cost more. One thing is for sure − we can’t remain where we are today.”