Environment Ministry Seeks to Lower Target for Recycling of Bottles

Company responsible for bottle collection, ELA, claims collection target too high, threatens the company financially.

The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee will review a bill on Monday submitted by the Environmental Protection Committee to retroactively reduce the number of bottles that were supposed to be collected in 2007 in order to be recycled.

The body responsible for collecting the bottles is ELA (the Hebrew acronym for Collection for the Environment). The ministry request has been met with furious opposition from environmental groups, led by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, who claim that it goes against the law regulating the deposit of bottles.

The law stipulates that 85 percent of all bottles under one and a half liters must be collected for recycling, but the Environment Ministry seeks to lower that target to 67 percent.

In recent years, the Economic Affairs Committee approved several reduction requests, due to ELA's claim that the collection target is too high and threatens the company financially.

The Environmental Protection Ministry has also initiated an amendment to the deposit law meant to place responsibility for collection directly on drink manufacturers, thereby improving the rate of collection. However, the Economic Affairs Committee has not yet approved the amendment.

"I'm trying to quickly advance an amendment to the deposit law," said Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra last week. "The chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee froze in the meanwhile the treatment of the law and I'm trying to convince additional committee members to advance it," he explained.

"This is a saga that repeats itself every year and stands in clear opposition to the law," said Gilad Ostrovsky from the Israel Union for Environmental Defense. "It's time to advance the amendment to the deposit law so that the situation doesn't repeat itself."