Bill Offers NIS 5,000 Reward for Reporting Illegal Waste Dumping

Citizens who record and report incidents of illegal construction waste dumping could receive NIS 5,000 in compensation, under a bill in the works.

The bill, proposed by MK Gideon Ezra (Kadima) when he was environmental protection minister, has passed its first reading, and is being reviewed in the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee today, in preparation for the second and third readings.

Ezra is resubmitting the bill as an amendment to the clean streets law.

According to the bill, anyone who documents a vehicle dumping construction waste at an unlicensed site will receive NIS 5,000 from the Environmental Protection Ministry if the offender is convicted. The bill allows the ministry to make the offender pay the NIS 5,000.

The offense will have to be photographed or videotaped, or recorded in another manner clearly identifying the offender, the vehicle license plate, and the time and place of the offense.

The justice ministry insisted that the person who documents the offense testify during the offender's trial.

"It doesn't work like that in the Shin Bet or the tax authorities, and I wanted to ensure anonymity for the informants in this case as well," said Ezra. "But I had to agree to the ministry's demands."

Ezra believes that the bill will still be effective.

"Five thousand shekels is what you get for collecting 10,000 plastic bottles," he said. "I'm sure people who want the money will come forward with the information."

The Environmental Protection Ministry has been trying to crack down on illegal construction waste dumping. According to the ministry, more than 1 million tons of construction waste are left at makeshift dumps around Israel, and several hundred thousands tons are illegally carted off to the West Bank.

A recent study by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies suggests that the ministry catches someone in only one out of 1,000 cases.

The bill has the support of the Recycling Companies Forum, which includes the operators of legal dumping and recycling sites.

Forum chairman Liad Ortar said: "The site operators have to face the issue of criminal dumping on a daily basis, and it threatens their very existence. They invested considerable funds in systems to treat and recycle waste, and if the waste never reaches the sites, all this money goes down the drain."

"Recycling in Israel depends on law enforcement. Getting the public involved might help the ministry," Ortar said.