ELA Recycling Corporation chairwoman says Israel surpassed the US and Europe in meeting its plastic recycling goals this year.

In honor of Earth Day the ELA Recycling Corporation, a non-profit organization promoting recycling, and the Israel Association of Community Centers (IACC) announced a new recycling initiative on Tuesday.

Hundreds of community centers throughout the country and some half a million children are expected to participate in numerous educational programs and the collecting, sorting and recycling of beverage bottles.

“Israel has made a giant leap forward this year when it managed to surpass not only the US but also Europe in meeting its goals for recycling plastic containers.

These achievements are a direct result of education and awareness and therefore we see great importance in cooperating with organizations involved in education and leisure,” said Nehama Ronen, chairman of ELA Recycling Corporation.

The project is a continuation of the efforts to educate and actively involve the younger generation in taking care of the environment and learning to recycle.

To date, recycling projects were focused mainly in schools and kindergarten activities – with students throughout the country recycling some 2.8 million beverage bottles this past year. The new initiative aims to expand this effort to after-school activities at community centers.

“This is an unusual project with values in which children and youth take responsibility of society and additionally the environment. Already today community centers are participating in cleaning projects, separating garbage, waste utilization and community gardens and now in this venture for collecting bottles and cans at an overall organizational level,” said Raz Frohlich, director-general of the IACC.

In addition to the educational content and activities, the children will be able to bring beverage bottles to their local community centers each week for recycling.

In return, the community centers participating in the project will receive the deposit fee of NIS 0.30 per recycled bottle.

These funds will serve to renovate and improve the community centers, as well as fund new activities, performances, equipment and games for children.

Over the past year, schools that participated in the program received some NIS 840,000 for the students’ recycling efforts.

Furthermore, as part of the initiative, community centers around the country will aim to hold national competitions during summer vacation.