Israel’s New Waste Strategy and the Introduction to Chemical Recycling

Last month Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry released a promising and bold strategy that plans to see a sharp increase in the country’s recycling rate and a dramatic decrease in landfilling by the year 2030 – a remarkable change from the pro-incineration policy of the previous minister. The strategy will result in a combined saving of billions of shekels over the next 10 years. It could put Israeli waste management on par with the European Union’s advanced environmental standards if the transition to a 20% landfill target is met.

An Environment Ministry team, chaired by Director General David Yahalomi, conducted a cost-benefit analysis, looking at both direct and indirect costs. The option of 54% recycling, 20% burial and 26% incineration came out at NIS 1.9 billion ($580 million) per year, compared with the most expensive, the “business as usual” scenario, which was priced at NIS 3.1 billion ($947.5 million) annually.

What is the New Waste Strategy? The new policy will require action from the public. Waste separation within households will be promoted with various incentive structures being discussed. Procurement from “clean” or “green” sources for business and industry will also be rewarded. The goal is to move the country from the current linear consumption model to a circular economy.

One of the most exciting components of this new strategy is the formal, first-ever-in-Israel introduction of chemical recycling as the new and complementary route to current recycling. While it may take still some time before the strategy becomes a policy and law, recognition of chemical recycling as one of the means of recycling waste in Israel is already a huge step in the right direction.

“This is the first official mention recognising chemical recycling and putting it into the spotlight in Israel. For us, one of the players in chemical recycling in Israel, this means that the government supports new, clean ways of recycling. We hope that this will lead the way as an example for other countries to do the same,” said Yariv Eldar, Clariter’s VP of Business Development.

Soon, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers can cooperate with Clariter to turn their waste into raw materials either for themselves or for others, closing the loop on a more circular economy. This will allow companies to meet their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) commitments, contribute to many UN Sustainable Development Goals, and create a better environment for future generations.

Long-standing criticism over Israel’s poor recycling rates and high waste production may finally have a solution. The ministry will create a roadmap for the next decade, which will see the 179-page New Waste Strategy come to fruition. Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said: “After more than two decades in which Israel has barely moved in terms of waste treatment, it is time for a change and transition from a linear economy to a circular economy. The State of Israel will move from about 80% landfilling today to 20% landfilling in 2030 and will transfer 54% of municipal waste to be recycled. The new strategic plan we are presenting today adopts the standards used in advanced countries for waste treatment and turns waste from a hazard into a resource.”

Could this be the start of a “greener” mindset for the entire population?

This is an opinion article written by Clariter.

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