The Environmental Protection Ministry announced last week that it would allocate 41 million shekels ($12.8 million) for the installation of dishwashers in state preschools, with the aim of reducing the use of disposable eating utensils.
However, receiving this funding will depend on local authorities committing to purchasing multi-use plates and cutlery. Moreover, local authorities will have to provide maintenance and repair services of these dishwashers for six years, and to verify that they are being used.
The use of disposable utensils in the school system creates enormous amounts of waste which does not break down for many years, harming the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, this adds up to 2,400 tons a year.
The ministry recently issued a call to local authorities, whereby they could apply to get dishwashers for kindergartens under their jurisdiction, to the tune of 3,000 shekels per kindergarten class.
This will cover the purchase and installation of a dishwasher, as well as the cost of electricity, water and dishwashing tablets for one year. The budget allocated should cover the 13,000 preschools affiliated with the Education Ministry, in which lunches are served (out of a total of 20,000 ministry-affiliated preschools). An extra four million shekels will be allocated for the dissemination of information on the issue of reducing the use of disposable items.
The plan was devised at the Environmental Protection Ministry over the last year, in tandem with increasing protests by parents against the use of such utensils. Some municipalities, such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, announced last year that they would be switching to multi-use utensils, but the coronavirus crisis postponed the implementation of these plans, and disposable items have continued to be used in recent months.
The Jerusalem municipality told Haaretz last week that the project has been frozen temporarily, and will be resumed after the pandemic passes.
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The Tel Aviv municipality said that so far, 70 kindergartens in its jurisdiction have been equipped with dishwashers, and that 70 additional ones will be installed by March. It now intends to respond to the ministry’s call for applications.
According to Deputy Mayor Zippi Brand, the city is promoting another move that will oblige food providers to deliver food in multiple-use stainless steel containers. This is due to environmental reasons as well as coming in response to concerns by parents about heating food in low-quality plastic containers.