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The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee is scheduled to start hearings today on proposed changes to the bottle deposit law.

The proposals would decrease targets for the amount of small bottles and cans to be collected and recycled.

In addition, beverage manufacturers and importers would be required to collect and recycle half of the larger containers, those at least 1.5 liters, but such containers would still not be subject to deposits.

The Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam Teva V'Din) asked the committee not to allow Shas MKs to participate in the debates, as reported yesterday in Haaretz, claiming they have a conflict of interest. Various bodies and individuals affiliated with the ultra-Orthodox party have business connections with beverage producers - a claim Shas has rejected categorically.

The committee's policy is that as long as MKs do not declare they have such interests, they may participate in the meetings.

The Environmental Protection Ministry clarified yesterday that the proposals would give the drink importers and manufacturers direct responsibility for collection and recycling, which is not the case now. Currently responsibility rests with a corporation, which is also the body that is fined for not meeting recycling targets.

The change would fine importers and manufacturers for shortfalls in recycling, based on their market share.