Court-ordered Closure of Landfill in Central Israel Leads to Garbage Dumping in Open Areas

The dump’s closure has put pressure on the transfer stations where the waste is sent

Waste by the roadside near the Shoham dump site last week
Shuli Buchnik

Ever since a major landfill for construction waste in the center of the country was closed by court order earlier this month, the waste has increasingly been dumped in nearby open areas instead. 

The dump’s operators say this is a direct result of the Ramle Magistrate Court’s decision.

On Sunday, they even submitted photographs to the Lod District Court of widespread trash fires in the area. Firefighters had to be summoned to keep the fires from spreading to the nearby Kula Forest.

The Ramle court ordered the Bareket landfill closed at the request of the town of Shoham’s planning and building committee. The committee said the dump had violated the building code and created environmental hazards, including a terrible stench. 

The operators, E.S.P.Y. Environmental Systems and Projects and Global Green, denied these accusations, but the court ordered the site to cease operations and refused to delay the order’s implementation. The operators then appealed to the district court, which is supposed to hear their appeal on Tuesday.

The dump’s closure has put pressure on the transfer stations where the waste is sent before going to Bareket. At least one station, in Holon, has informed the Environmental Protection Ministry that it can’t accept any more waste unless the landfill reopens.

The landfill has operated for decades, initially with the support of both the ministry and the Shoham local council. But in recent years, Shoham has turned against the dump and refused to renew its business license.

The Bareket site is crucial to the proper treatment of construction waste in the center of the country. Some of the waste sent there is buried, and some is crushed and reused as building material. The landfill also has a special site for burying asbestos, which requires special protections.

The ministry said that even though the court has ordered Bareket to cease operations, “On the face of it, the site’s closure shouldn’t have any special impact on the handling of waste, due to alternative solutions that provide a suitable response for handling the region’s construction waste. In addition to these alternatives, the Israel Lands Authority is moving forward with the establishment of a new waste site next to Bareket, which is also slated to serve the area.”

According to a report recently published by the ministry, Israel produces between 3.6 million and 6.2 million tons of construction waste every year. But only 2.7 million tons of this waste ever reaches treatment facilities or organized landfills. The rest is simply dumped in open areas, where it severely pollutes the environment. 

The economic cost of this failure to properly treat construction waste is estimated at 140 million shekels ($39 million) a year. The amount of construction waste that has accumulated in open areas over the last decade is thought to total about 20 million tons.