Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry has distributed a memorandum on a draft Packaging Law to government ministries that the ministry says has been constructed to minimize the environmental impact of packaging waste, while transforming the waste into a resource and preventing the waste and pollution of land resources. This is to be achieved through reuse, recycling, and reduction of the quantity of waste transferred for landfilling.
The law is based on the principle of extended producer responsibility (ERP),
whereby the manufacturer or importer is responsible for the collection and recycling of the packaging they produce or import for sale. The law adopts the guidelines and targets of the European Directive on packaging and packaging waste.
Says Environmental Protection minister Gilad Erdan, "The Packaging Law constitutes a revolution in the treatment of household waste. Imposing responsibility for the recycling of waste on all manufacturers and importers will facilitate a reduction in the quantity of waste that is landfilled and the development of a local market for recycling. The packaging reform will enlist the active participation of the public in the recycling process, by means of separation of waste at source to different bins. This will enable Israel to finally join the ranks of advanced countries in this field."
Waste in Israel has been growing at an average annual rate of 5%, with some 5.5 million tons of municipal solid waste accumulating each year. The weight of packaging waste in Israel is estimated at a million tons, some 15% of the total weight of municipal solid waste in the country. Notes the ministry, this waste takes up a large amount of space in landfills, leading to the waste of precious land resources and to increased emissions of greenhouse gases.
Provisions of law
The main provisions of the proposed law and its impact on the public include the following:
• Type of packaging—The proposed law will apply to packaging from different materials and for a wide range of products. The law differentiates between single and multiuse packaging in order to encourage the use of multiuse packaging.
• Recycling targets—By 2014, manufacturers and importers will be required to recycle 60% of the total weight of single-use packaging of the products they sell or import each year. The producer will have to comply with annual recycling targets according to type of material: glass, water, and cardboard - 60%; metal - 50%; and plastic - 22.5%.
• Accessible infrastructure for the sorting of waste in local authorities—The proposed law will enable local authorities to adopt advanced models of treating and separating waste at source, financed by the producers and importers themselves. Benefits to the economy include savings in the direct and external costs of current waste treatment methods. The law will also encourage the development of local employment in the field of recycling and recovery.
• Marking of packaging—The manufacturer will mark each packaging with information on its designation for recycling, recovery, or reuse, type of raw material, weight, hazardous waste content, and identity of the corporation from which the producer received the services.
• Zero waste for landfilling—According to the Environmental Protection Ministry's comprehensive policy on solid waste treatment, the landfilling of packaging waste will be prohibited as of January 2020, as a complementary step and in order to reach the recycling and recovery rates characteristic of developed countries.
• Fines and financial sanctions for noncompliance—The financial sanction for noncompliance with the recycling targets is 5,000 shekels (approximately US$1,300) for every ton for which a violation is committed. For most of the provisions of the proposed law, a financial sanction of 67,000 (US$17,700) shekels was set. Violation of the provision prohibiting the landfilling of waste carries a proposed sanction in the sum of 202,000 (US$53,000) in light of the concrete environmental repercussions associated with this form of disposal.
The proposed law will join existing legislation in Israel aimed at reducing the quantity of waste destined for landfilling, including the landfill levy, the Deposit Law on Beverage Containers, and the Tire Disposal and Recycling Law.