Wasting no time

Jerusalem promises not to leave residents without bottle recycling cages

Following numerous calls to ToI, municipality clarifies that it has removed 200 out of 1,500 cages in run up to new bottle deposit rules coming into effect on December 1

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

A woman throws a bottle into a recycling bin in Jerusalem. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A woman throws a bottle into a recycling bin in Jerusalem. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Municipality has started removing bottle recycling cages in the run-up to bottle deposit law changes coming into force on December 1.

But a spokeswoman said that while 200 out of a total of 1,500 such containers have been withdrawn, there are still enough cages throughout the city to serve recycling needs.

A year ago, in a victory for environmental groups and particularly for the advocacy organization Adam Teva V’Din, which championed the cause, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced that a deposit law on drink containers would be extended to bottles of between 1.5 and 5 liters (1.6 to 5.3 quarts) — a move calculated to save consumers some NIS 60 million ($17.8 million) a year.

Since 2001, when the government passed the Deposit Law on Beverage Containers, a refundable sum — currently 30 agorot ($0.09) — has been added to the cost of all cans of drinks and glass and plastic bottles containing 100 milliliters (3.4 fluid ounces) to 1.5 liters (1.6 quarts) of beverage, to encourage people to return them after use.

But larger bottles have been exempt, mainly due to pressure from ultra-Orthodox groups and manufacturers.

Over recent weeks, The Times of Israel has received reports from residents of different Jerusalem neighborhoods that recycling cages for bottles other than those for which a deposit can be claimed have been disappearing and that calls to the Jerusalem Municipality have yielded different explanations.

According to the spokeswoman, “The new deposit law, which will enter into force on December 1, stipulates that the responsibility for placing and operating bottle recycling facilities rests with the Environmental Protection Ministry.”

“New facilities will be placed in marketing chains and when the bottles are returned, a credit voucher will be issued in return,” the spokeswoman said.

“With implementation of the law, it will not be necessary to locate bottle recycling facilities throughout the city. During the current period, the municipality is working to collect the cages, which constitute a hazard in public space, and everything [is being done] in coordination with the Ministry of Environmental Protection.”

The spokeswoman said that the main collection of existing cages will be carried out after December 1, once the alternatives, in shopping areas, were in place.

Estimating that the move would save Israelis some NIS 56.3 million ($16.7 million) a year, collection companies NIS 45.6 million ($13.5 million) and local authorities NIS 4.4 million ($1.3 million), former environmental protection minister Gila Gamliel said at the time that a deposit extension would ensure the economic viability of a plastic recycling plant in Israel, and provide raw materials to local bottle producers that are currently having to import recycled plastic from overseas. (Israel’s last recycling plant for plastic bottles closed years ago.)

It would also reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and create new green jobs, the minister said.

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