New Haifa Recycling Program Relieves Pressure on Landfills

Haifa has embarked on a novel effort to recycle old electronics, stationing 24 blue collection bins throughout the city so that people can deposit computers, radios or fax machines.

The waste is then transferred to Mifalei Shikum, a plant that employs people with disabilities, thereby killing two birds with one stone: recycling electronic goods and providing employment for the disabled.

The experiment has been up and running for three weeks. So far, three tons of old electronics have been collected.

"We station the bins in each of the [four] districts in a fixed location, on a fixed day, for two days, and them move them to another location [in that district]," explained Gil Ashbal, who heads Haifa's sanitation department. "That way, the public knows that on a given day of the month, it can throw out its electronic waste."

Details about dates and locations are available via the municipality's Web site and hotline.

However, not everything will be accepted.

"The bins are not meant for computer screens or televisions, since they might break and emit poisonous gas," said Ashbal. "These items should be placed alongside regular trash bins, he said, and will be carted away during the municipality's regular pick-ups."

Ashbal said that while electronic waste accounts for only 2 to 3 percent of total household waste, it occupies a large volume, so recycling will help reduce the strain on landfills.

So far, he added, public cooperation has been impressive: In the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood, for instance, about half a ton of waste was collected on the project's very first day.