Jerusalem City Hall Faces Fine for Failing to Separate, Recycle Packaging Waste

The city says the Environmental Protection Ministry is pushing 'unreasonable separation procedures.'

A packaging room assembly line of the company Agrexco.
Eliahu Hershkovitz

The Environmental Protection Ministry has told the Jerusalem municipality it will fine the city 690,000 shekels ($180,000) for failing to establish procedures for separating packaging materials from other waste.

If the city does not appeal, it will have to pay the fine within two months. For its part, the municipality called the penalty “scandalous and rash,” adding that it would fight the decision.

According to the law on recycling packaging material, Israeli local authorities must contract a company called Tamir, which collects such waste and sends it to separation and recycling facilities.

Tamir was established by manufacturers and importers of packaging material to streamline the collection of such waste and incentivize an increase in volume collected. Without this company there would be no way to monitor the volume of packaging material collected.

Tamir has been operating for four years but the Jerusalem municipality has yet to sign an agreement with it. The Environmental Protection Ministry has sent several warnings to city hall and held meetings with city officials. Six months ago the municipality was given 60 days to set up procedures for waste separation and to sign a contract with Tamir.

At the end of this period the ministry requested a progress report but the municipality declined to respond. The ministry therefore announced that it would fine the city, both for not setting up waste separation and for not contracting Tamir.

In Tel Aviv Wednesday, Tamir displayed its new technologies and methods for handling packaging waste. CEO Kobi Dar said Tamir had signed contracts with 211 of 250 local authorities.

The deputy director general of the Environmental Protection Ministry, Yoram Horowitz, said Tamir had reached its targets for 2013, while its numbers for 2014 were under review.

Tamir’s agreements are tailored to each local authority. Some authorities prefer one large orange bin that takes all types of packaging material, while others prefer recycling centers or stick with a system similar to the one for bottle deposits.

In any case, the Jerusalem municipality harshly criticized the ministry’s decision.

“This is a scandalous and rash decision by some official at the ministry. It is completely disconnected from reality and from the past failures in the ministry’s handling of waste separation, which the minister himself admitted to,” the municipality said.

“The monopoly called Tamir is trying to impose unreasonable separation procedures on local authorities ....The city is conducting professional discussions with the ministry, and this should continue instead of these unilateral steps that are tasteless and embarrassing. The city will fight for the cancellation of such actions with all legal means at its disposal.”