Organic Waste Separated Out for Compost Dumped in Jordan Valley

Meir called on the Environmental Protection Ministry to investigate to find the perpetrators and determine whether the terms of its composting licenses were violated.

A sorting and recycling facility for construction waste near Shoham.
Tomer Appelbaum

Some of the wet (organic) waste sorted out by hundreds of thousands of Israeli households in the belief it would be recycled into compost was instead being dumped in open areas in the Jordan Valley, according to an area environmental officials.

The head of the Samaria Municipal Environmental Association, Yitzhak Meir, said that after hearing about the dumping some weeks ago he discovered “dirty” compost, containing nonorganic waste scattered over large areas near the Tirtza stream, west of the Adam Bridge, as well as near the Auja stream, north of Jericho.

Meir called on the Environmental Protection Ministry to investigate to find the perpetrators and determine whether the terms of its composting licenses were violated.

The ministry said it had received similar reports and that a meeting had been scheduled with law enforcement agencies on the matter.

In the past two years Massua Compost has accepted large quantities of wet waste from household bins and centralized facilities such as one that began operating in Jerusalem last year.

Massua Compost, in the northern Jordan Valley, is a large facility with machines that stir the organic waste to aid in the composting process.

In a response, the company’s owners said it complies with the terms of it business license and the demands of the Environmental Protection Ministry. “We stress that the compost is sold only at authorized sites and in keeping with the terms of the license,” Massua said.

The Environmental Protection Ministry said the head of environmental affairs in the Civil Administration determined that finished compost was being stored at a site near the community of Massua in an area not intended for this purpose and the subject was being clarified with the individual storing the compost.

This is not the site Meir found in his survey.

Massua Compost said it was unaware of any examination by the Civil Administration in the West Bank.

From Meir’s descriptions it is clear that at least in some cases, very large quantities of compost in varying stages of decomposition were being discarded in various areas that were environmentally unsuitable for this purpose. The Tirza and Uja streambeds in the Tirza and Uja could be damaged by undecomposed food remnants as well as by the compost itself, which is intended for cultivated areas.

According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, nearly half a million households in Israel in 49 local authorities separate their wet garbage. The ministry had planned to assist a number of facilities in taking in the wet waste for processing but so far it has not done so. This type of waste requires high-quality processing to remove materials like household glass. Farmers are particularly concerned about glass in the compost because they are afraid it will impair their ability to market produce cultivated with it.