Israeli Recycling Corporation: 52% of Large Bottles Are Recycled

Israel is on course to reaching recycling target of 55% within two years, mandated by Deposit Law.

Nir Kedar

The Ela Recycling Corporation, which collects beverage containers as per the Deposit Law, reported on Sunday that this year it collected and transferred for recycling 52 percent of the large beverage containers (1.5 liters and over) sold in Israel, and is only a few percentage points away from the collection target mandated by law. The non-profit organization also announced that it is examining its possible participation in launching the first plant in Israel to manufacture beverage containers from recycled plastic.

Under an amendment to the Deposit Law, Ela is supposed to reach a collection target of 55 percent of large beverage containers two years from now, without collecting deposit money. In order to meet this target the corporation relies on recycling bins for voluntary collection of plastic bottles from the public, of which there are already 20,000 dispersed around the country.

Now the corporation reports that this year it will collect about 350,000 large beverage containers, constituting about 52 percent of all the bottles.

Ela’s board chairwoman Nehama Ronen also reported that the corporation had passed its target for collecting bottles for which a deposit is paid (those smaller than 1.5 liters). This year the collection rate is 80 percent of all small bottles sold, while the target is 77 percent.

In the past, sources in the waste industry have questioned the accuracy of the figures for collecting the large beverage containers, claiming that they are lower. “We stand behind the figures that we cross-referenced from several sources, while using the inspections of accountants and statistical inspections,” said Ronen Sunday morning.

Ela reported an improvement in collection from supermarket chains of bottles on which a deposit is paid, and the chains now collect one-fifth of these containers. Ronen said that the two main reasons for the improvement are a monetary incentive paid by the corporation to all the supermarket chains for collecting containers, and vigorous enforcement activity by the Environmental Protection Ministry. There has also been a real improvement in the use of recycling bins in ultra-Orthodox cities such as Bnei Brak, she said. She also noted a trend toward improvement in Arab communities, but many of them lag significantly behind other sectors.

Ela is now examining the feasibility of building a plant for producing bottles from recycled plastic (“Bottle to Bottle”). Until now the plastic that was collected was transferred to recycling plants that shredded it and used it as raw material for various products, but not as initial packaging for food and beverage products. The new plant will be able to manufacture bottles, a significant percentage of which will be composed of shredded plastic that has undergone cleaning processes.

While Ela reports that it is meeting recycling targets, the Environmental Protection Ministry admitted recently that it is examining a possibility of eliminating the Deposit Law and including beverage containers in the Packaging Law – a parallel law that designates one corporation responsible for collecting all types of packaging from designated bins. The rationale is to create a uniform system for collecting many types of waste and simplifying the collection process.

Ronen said this initiative is liable to lead to a regression to the situation prior to the Deposit Law, in which there was less recycling and widespread dirt. “You also have to remember that the importance of implementing the Deposit Law is not only to meet the collection targets but to transfer large quantities of metal, plastic and glass to recycling plants,” she said.

Ronen added that there is an advantage to collecting plastic separately from other packaging, as this ensures that material of a higher quality reaches the recycling bins.