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The Beverage Containers Collection Corporation, operated by the beverage producers and importers, said yesterday it believes it will be able to collect and recycle 40 percent of the larger containers, from 1.5 liters upwards.

The estimate outranks the goal set for bottle recycling by the Environmental Protection Ministry for this year, and the association hopes to increase the recycling ratio to 50 percent within three years.

The agreement between the ministry and the Manufacturers Association of Israel does not include large bottles in the law setting a 30 agorah reimbursement for a returned bottle. Instead, it was decided that the beverage producers and importers will collect them themselves, and if they fail to begin collecting half of the bottles by 2014, these containers will be added to the reimbursement law.

Nechama Ronen, director of the Elah collection and recycling corporation, said that the bottle collecting rate has increased this year for several reasons, including the spread of bottle collection cages, now numbering at 13,000.

The corporation also launched several informational campaigns, which Ronen said helped raise awareness of recycling.

An increase in the work of the sorting stations that receive and classify various kinds of municipal waste also contributed to the rise.

"About 10 percent of the bottles we get today come from the waste sorting stations," Ronen said. "We hope that by the end of the year we will have collected 300 million large bottles, which form some 40 percent of all containers."

The recycling corporation is now trying to engage the Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities, which have historically shyed away from recycling. Ronen said that setting up recycling points in ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak was met with huge success, and completely disproved the commonly held prejudice that ultra-Orthodox are apathetic to environmental issues.

"We intend to begin introducing recycling cages into Arab towns and cities soon, beginning probably with the city of Nazareth. We'll also launch an informational campaign in preparation for the move," she said.

The numbers of large and small beverage containers already being collected by the corporation can help the manufacturers meet the plastics recycling goals set in the new packaging recycling bill, due to come into force later this month.

But a new initiative to have households separate "dry" and "wet" trash may hurt bottle recycling as consumers toss out containers with the dry.