The closure of the Sharonim recycling plant could damage one of the Environmental Protection Ministry’s main campaigns – to encourage the separation of garbage for recycling.
By Zafrir Rinat | Dec.31, 2012

One of central Israel’s largest waste recycling facilities, located in Taibeh, lacks a business license and is the source of environmental nuisances, according to the Taibeh Municipality and the Environmental Protection Ministry, which are threatening to close it down.

The closure of the Sharonim recycling plant could damage one of the ministry’s main campaigns – to encourage the separation of garbage for recycling. However, the ministry says it will not allow the plant to operate without the proper permits, including those for handling of toxins. The city has tried to elicit the courts’ aid in closing down the plant, but the courts have so far been unhelpful.

Sharonim, which is privately owned, sorts waste that is then sent for recycling. It takes in 600 tons of garbage daily from Hadera, Netanya, Kafr Qasem, Kalansua and many small rural communities.

The facility has also begun receiving garbage from the Hefer Valley area of the coastal plain, which it separates into wet (food remnants ) and dry (plastic and paper ) components. The site has a system for separating the waste, and nearly a third of all the waste it separates goes for recycling.

The owners of the facility say they have been unable to obtain a permanent license to operate. Claiming the backing of environmental expert Dr. Shmuel Brenner and of past Environmental Protection Ministry experts, they say the site is not a nuisance, but rather solves environmental problems.

After the owners realized they could not obtain a permanent license, they sought a permit to operate the plant for a three-year interim period. “During this period we will build a new facility in Kfar Sava. We have an agreement with the municipality on a site,” says Rafi Kahlon, one of the owners.

However, Kahlon says if the current plant is closed before the new one opens, the owners will lose their clients and there will be no point in opening the new plant.

“Our position is that waste must be treated according to the law,” the Environmental Protection Ministry said in a statement. “The current site is operating without a business permit, without a toxin permit and without [inclusion] in the municipal master plan. A closure order was issued and is now before the courts. If it closes, municipalities will have to send their waste to Hiriya,” the ministry said, referring to the recycling plant southeast of Tel Aviv. “We are now working to advance additional solutions, which will provide the needed answers and increase the rate of recycling.”

But Sharonim’s owners say Hiriya does not offer a viable alternative to the services Sharonim provides. Hefer Valley authorities agree with them. Eldad Shaham, deputy chairman of the Hefer Valley Regional Council, said: “The site’s closure will seriously impede our waste separation project, which the Environmental Protection Ministry supports. It’s absurd to send truckloads of waste to Hiriya when there is a working solution.”