The Israeli seaside cities of Eilat and Herzliya have announced that they will ban the use and sale of disposable plastic bags on their beaches in an effort to reduce plastic consumption as a whole. This is the first such initiative in Israel as cities join a global trend to reduce the use of plastics.
Environmental organizations say a wide range of alternatives exist for such products, such as reusable bags, multi-use plastic cutlery and utensils, as well as products made out of aluminum.
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The two cities will pass new municipal bylaws to implement the initiative. Herzliya mayor Moshe Fadlon announced last week that he would present the matter to the city council over the course of the year which would ban the use of plastic bags and cutlery on the city's beaches just north of Tel Aviv. The new law is currently being drafted.
Herzliya, on the Mediterranean coast, said the law would be enforced by city inspectors on the beaches who will impose fines on violators. The ban is part of a wider city initiative to make Herzliya a plastic-free city in an attempt to encourage public bodies and educational institutions to stop using such plastic goods.
On Sunday, Eilat city hall announced a two-stage plan to protect Red Sea beaches in Israel's south, which are polluted by accumulated plastic. The first stage will include educating businesses in the city along the coast to avoid using plastic and later new local bylaws will be enforced to ban the use of disposables along the sea.
The city will also launch a campaign to raise awareness among residents and vacationers to the great damage done to the coral reefs, fish and other marine animals by plastics. The city council will meet on Wednesday to amend the bylaws, which will then need to be approved by the Interior Ministry. Eilat city hall said plastic water bottles will be exempted from the ban. City inspectors will first issue warnings and only later will they impose fines.
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Plastic makes up 90 percent of marine waste with at least 58 percent of the waste coming from those on the beach, data from the Environmental Protection Ministry shows.
Six months ago, the ministry called for scientists to propose studies to monitor plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea and Gulf of Aqaba, and a number of those proposals are now under examination.
The ministry is also interested in investigating how much plastic that washes up on Israel’s shores comes from other countries, and how much comes from internal sources such as runoff from streams and rivers.