A construction waste site in Petah Tikva.
A construction waste site in Petah Tikva. Photo by Alon Ron
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The Knesset will in the coming weeks complete legislation of a bill banning the dumping of construction waste in open spaces. Such dumping is considered the most widespread form of environmental damage in Israel today. Under the new law, local authorities will be responsible for collecting and removing construction-related garbage to proper dump sites, thereby significantly reducing the problem of construction waste materials being dumped in open areas.

Three months ago, the Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee endorsed the first reading an amendment to the garbage removal law, which imposes responsibility for removing construction waste on local councils.

Under the amendment, a local authority will be required to remove construction waste created within its jurisdiction. After a contractor announces its intention to engage in construction work, the local authority will have to stipulate conditions for collecting the waste, designate a party responsible for its removal, and slap waste collection and removal fees on the contractor who creates the waste.

The Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam, Teva V'Din ), which was involved in drafting the proposed amendment, claims that only a fraction of the 4 million tons of construction waste created each year reaches proper dumping grounds. A large portion of the waste is dumped in open spaces or smuggled into unauthorized sites on the other side of the Green Line (such unauthorized removal of waste avoids transportation and other costs ).

"Trucks conveying construction waste cross into Judea and Samaria freely, and thereby violate a directive issued by the Civil Administration," Adam Teva V'Din declares in a position paper. "This happens even though the enforcement costs entailed in stopping such trucks are not high; such costs aren't nearly as high as the price paid when the waste is dumped in unauthorized areas."

The amendment was drafted in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Union of Local Authorities and the 15 Forum, comprised of delegates from the country's largest cities. "We endorse this [amendment], which is designed to bring order to construction waste removal," a spokesman from the Union of Local Authorities relayed on Thursday.

Attorney Linor Sagi, who directs environmental projects for the 15 Forum, explained Thursday that local authorities have two reservations regarding the proposal. "We argue that we should be allowed more flexibility in terms of setting the fee imposed for waste removal. Also, the law should not impose criminal responsibility upon a local council that does not heed its requirements; it should have administrative - not criminal - responsibility."