Residents of Tel Aviv are the country’s most wasteful citizens, according to a study (Hebrew link) from the Environmental Protection Ministry released last week. Tel Avivians throw away approximately three kilos of trash per day, while the least wasteful city is Ashdod, where residents throw away half of their city neighbors to the north.
The Environmental Protection Ministry said that the vast difference between 3.1 kilos (6.8 pounds) of trash per person per day in Tel Aviv and 1.49 kilos in Ashdod is due to Ashdod’s successful organic waste disposal program, which encourages residents to separate food scraps from their trash and put it in separate collection containers for transfer to a compost facility. More than 40,000 households in Ashdod have compost collection bins.
Tel Aviv also throws out much more than other large cities around the world. New Yorkers throw out approximately 1.1 kilos per person per day, according to the NYC Independent Budget Office. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that across the USA, the average person throws out approximately two kilos per person per day, compared to 1.4 kilos per person per day in the European Union and 0.3 kilos per person per day in China.
Food scraps account for 31% of Tel Aviv’s trash, most of it uneaten fruit and vegetables, according to the ministry.
In addition to the high amount of overall waste per person per day, Israelis are also one of the most wasteful countries when it comes to throwing out food, according to the OECD. Israelis throw out approximately 14% of the food they buy, the second-highest country in the OECD survey, trailing only behind South Korea, which pitches 15% of its food. According to the OECD, Australia and Canada throw away 10% of their food, while France throws away 6%.
— OECD Environment (@OECD_ENV) August 12, 2014
Another large portion of Israel’s trash is plastic bags, which account for approximately 7% of the country’s waste. Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz drafted a law that would charge customers 40 agorot (approximately 10 cents) for each plastic bag they use when making purchases. The purpose of the law is to encourage people to use reusable bags rather than plastic bags. According to the ministry, the average Israeli uses 275 plastic bags per year.