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When Rishon Letzion resident and environmental activist Ofra Peleg wants to dispose of the plastic bottles her family has used, she bundles them into her car and drops them into recycling bins in nearby Nes Tziona or Holon on her way to work.

That's because until now, the fourth-largest city in the country has not sported its own plastic recycling bins; instead it said that bottles got sorted at the waste processing plant.

"It really made us angry that we didn't have recycling bins for years," said Peleg. "They gave all kinds of excuses as to why they didn't set them up."

But now Peleg won't have to leave the city she has lived in for 40 years just so she can toss out her used bottles. The Rishon Letzion municipality is now placing about 200 plastic recycling bins throughout the city, and is considering putting up an additional 100 bins.

"Placement of the bottle recycling bins has been a personal campaign of mine for 10 years now, from my days in the opposition, and I'm glad that I have finally managed to bring it to fruition," said Rishon Letzion Mayor Dov Tzur. "We're putting the green issue at the top of the priority list, and the bin placement is part of the implementation of that policy."

The move brings Rishon Letzion into line with most other cities in the country, which began introducing such bins a decade ago.

"The first contracts with the municipalities were in 1999, and the critical mass was in 2000-2001," said Dafna Ben Yaakov, marketing manager for Aviv Recycling, which will now be collecting bottles from Rishon Letzion. The recycling company collects bottles from more than 160 municipalities, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Be'er Sheva.

Hygienic concerns

Still, Rishon Letzion isn't quite the last place to provide recycling bins. The Emek Lod regional council does not have any, and though bins were placed in Bnei Brak, they have since been removed.

Some of the first municipalities in the country to get plastic bottle recycling bins include Tel Aviv, Ra'anana, Ramat Gan and Herzliya, while some of the last include Kiryat Motzkin, Kiryat Gat and Ma'alot-Tarshiha, Ben Yaakov said.

Rishon Letzion hasn't provided the bins until now because it was concerned that they didn't look attractive and could be unhygienic, said Doron Milberg, who served as director general of the municipality between 2003 and earlier this year.

Although the city was in the final stages of negotiations to get the bins and had an offer to use containers with a decorative design, the deal fell through, said Milberg, who now serves as director general of the Lod municipality.

"We wanted a narrower opening and a more hermetic closing so mice and animals wouldn't be able to get inside and so that people wouldn't be able to throw out trash, because that's hazardous," he said.

The Rishon Letzion municipality said the recycling bins do not pose any danger, and plans to place 500 containers for recyclable bags intended to help dog owners clean up after their pets.