A report by the environmental group Union for Environmental Defense reveals that the extent of recycling of household refuse is 10 percent below the the Environmental Protection Ministry's target - and stands at only 13 percent.

A report prepared by the ministry for the Organization of Economic Development places the rate of recycling of household garbage at 18 percent, which still falls far short of its target of 50 percent within five years.

The Union for Environmental Defense called on the Environmental Protection Ministry last week at a conference on recycling to move ahead on a law requiring the recycling of packaging and for local authorities to separate wet and dry waste and sending it for recycling.

Ra'anana Mayor Nahum Hofree and Zichron Ya'akov Mayor Eli Abutbul told the conference that both their communities would within two years be separating wet and dry waste and sending it for recycling

The Union for Environmental Defense says most local authorities would be able to lower the overall cost of refuse treatment if they separated wet and dry refuse and transported it for recycling, mainly because trucks would not drive to distant landfill sites and would not have to pay landfill fees.

Even if garbage is separated, Israel lacks sufficient facilities, such as Delilah, a facility near Kibbutz Kfar Menachem on the southern coastal plain, to turn the material into products like fertilizer. Some landfills also charge particularly low fees, among them the ones serving Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva. "You can't beat those landfills economically," Gilad Ostrovsky, of the Union of Environmental Defense, said.

The Environmental Protection Ministry is - for the first time - going to exclude scrap metal in its recycling figures for household garbage, which has lowered overall recycling figures. The scrap-iron recycling facility in Acre, which burned down three weeks ago, and the Yehuda Pladot plant in Ashdod meet Israel's construction needs for iron. If the Acre plant does not reopen, Israel will have to import iron, increasing building costs. One source of foreign scrap iron is Turkey. However, given the current tensions, import may not go forward. Turkish scrap-iron plants are also said not to meet environmental requirements.