The Environmental Protection Ministry has fined tire importers 1.77 million shekels ($470,000) for not reporting their mandatory recycling of tires on time. As opposed to most other environmental laws, in this case fines for missing tire recycling targets cannot be reduced.
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In recent years, importers and sellers of tires have been obligated to send old tires for recycling, with a target of recycling 85 percent of this waste. The tires are sent to plants that shred them and use the material for manufacturing various products.
Two related tire importers, Raly Traffic Accessories and Daka Tires, say that in 2013 they upgraded their computer systems and as a result, for six months they could not precisely estimate the total weight of the tires they sold, and therefore also could not calculate the amount of tires they needed to send for recycling. The companies decided to rely on data from previous years, but in the end it turned out that they recycled more tires than their annual quota.
As a result, the two companies included the excess recycling in their reports for the following year, 822 tons in total. They did not receive approval from the Environmental Protection Ministry to do so, but assumed the law allowed it.
The ministry decided to levy the fines after holding a hearing for the companies and then informed them that the law did not allow carrying over recycling from one year to the next, and agreeing to such a change would affect other companies in the business and could lead to problems in achieving recycling goals.
In the case of most other environmental laws, companies – including those who caused real damage to the environment – can appeal their fines and asked to have them reduced, and often the companies are given a break. But in the case of tire recycling, the law does not have any such mechanism for reducing fines, even if no damage was caused to the environment.
In response, the two companies sued the ministry in the administrative court in Jerusalem, asking to cancel the fines. Their lawyers claimed the Environmental Protection Ministry does have the legal authority to allow transferring tire recycling quotas from one year to the following year, and has even done so in the past. In addition, they claim the ministry has the authority to use its judgment in levying the fines.
The Environmental Protection Ministry declined to comment on the petition because the matter is still being heard in court.