New survey for Clean Up Day: Israel makes five times more garbage than Switzerland. Researchers: Israel has a wasteful consumption culture and low awareness to treating waste

Amir Ben-David
Published: 09.09.13

Data published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicates that an average Israeli family creates over 60 gallons of garbage a week; twice as much as families in France, three and a half times more than families in Canada, and almost five times as much as families in Switzerland.

In Israel, as in many other countries, Monday marks International Clean Up Day. Some of the activities, overseen by the Jewish National Fund, will see thousands of students and youth group members collecting trash from open land.

But that waste is only a small part of the massive amounts of waste Israelis produce every day, waste that ends up in landfills, emitting greenhouse gasses.

In recent months, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management in the University of Haifa collected data for a comprehensive OECD survey. The data was gathered by internet, with 1,168 families in Israel answering questions, and with results comparable to ten other countries.

Biggest trash maker in Europe
The data suggest that while an Israeli produces over 18 gallons of trash a week, the international standard (in countries such as Sweden, Spain, Holland, Japan, France, Chile, Canada and Australia) is around 11 gallons.

Researchers were asked to weigh in on the difference. “Israel has a wasteful consumption culture and low awareness to treating waste,” staff from the University of Haifa said.

“The situation of a lack of an infrastructure to separate waste is starting to change today. In countries where trash is taxed, there is less trash; Israel also has more children per household than the other countries surveyed, and that may affect results.”

Education affects waste production
The survey further suggested that couples in Israel produce more waste than individuals living alone or couples with children: Averaging 19 gallons per couple, as opposed to 18 for an individual and 16 for a person living in a four-member family.

Other findings reveal that the higher the age and education, the smaller the volume of garbage, and the higher the willingness to separate garbage. The more often the authorities clear trash—the higher waste production goes up.

The survey did not examine the content of the trash. These days another survey is being made as more cities are making recycling and separating trash mandatory.

A 2005 survey showed that Israeli waste is made up of 46% plastics, 28% paper and 10% organic matter; as there is more intense recycling of plastics, current data is expected to be different.,7340,L-4427512,00.html