Environmental Group Picks Recycling Company for Pollution 'Award'

Environmental group Life and Environment to give the Black Globe award for companies that harm the environment to E.L.A., the body that controls bottle collection for recycling.

E.L.A., the body that collects bottles for recycling as part of the implementation of the Deposit Law, by definition acts in behalf of environmental protection. But E.L.A. (Isuf l'Maan Hasviva, Collection for the Environment) is slated to receive the embarrassing Black Globe of environmental umbrella group Life and Environment.

The "award" is given to organizations that harm the environment.

E.L.A. was nominated for the "honor" by Adam Teva V'Din (the Israel Union for Environmental Defense), which says that E.L.A. deserves the award because it failed to meet the goal of reclaiming bottles as provided by the law, and is constantly acting to limit these goals, including a public campaign against expansion of the law to include larger bottles. Adam Teva V'Din also characterized E.L.A. as being under the control of crime families and so jeopardizing public support of the entire deposit process.

Nehama Ronen, former director general of the Environment Ministry, who heads E.L.A., is furious and says E.L.A. may take legal steps. "This is an attempt to prevent us from expressing a legitimate opinion that the law should be implemented differently," said Ronen.

E.L.A.'s legal counsel wrote to Life and Environment, saying his client has collected more than 1.5 billion bottles since 2001, thus preventing the disposal of 170,000 tons in garbage dumps. The letter also notes that award of the Black Globe is conducted by a review panel whose composition is unclear, and without having provided E.L.A. the opportunity to present its position.

A spokesman for Life and Environment responded yesterday that "the recycling corporation will be provided the opportunity to respond on stage during the award ceremony. The Black Globe award will be given during the Green Globe award ceremony that will be held to honor Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski for his efforts to halt the Safdie construction project in western Jerusalem.

The Life and Environment spokesman said the dubious award reflects "the legitimate concerns of public environmental organizations." He added: "This is a foolish attempt to threaten and gag legitimate criticism on an issue that is the subject of lively public debate."