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Orange recycling bins to finally debut in Jerusalem, city promises

Municipality signs deal, which still needs council approval, to deploy 2,000 bins for containers and packaging which will bring it into line with 93 other local authorities

Screen capture from video of a man using an orange recycling bin. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of a man using an orange recycling bin. (Twitter)

The Jerusalem Municipality has signed a contract to deploy 2,000 orange recycling containers across the capital in a move that will bring it into line with 93 other local authorities serving some 4.5 million Israelis.

The orange bins are for packaging waste, which includes such items as shampoo bottles, cartons, tin cans, and plastic bags.

The city has long resisted the orange containers because unlike other municipalities, it set up a waste sorting facility some years ago. The business deal signed with that facility, Greenet, in Atarot in northern Jerusalem, allows Greenet to sort potentially recyclable items out from the general trash and sell them.

It remains unclear whether the municipality will have to compensate Greenet for packaging waste that will go into the orange bins and not make it to Greenet. The orange bins are the responsibility of another company, the Tamir Recycling Corporation.

An orange recycling bin, with a sign setting out the types of containers that can be deposited. (Courtesy Tamir Recycling Corporation)

City Hall’s agreement with the Tamir corporation and the Environmental Protection Ministry was signed last week and will be submitted for council approval next month, according to the Kan broadcaster. The deal specifies that at least 90 percent of households will have easy access to an orange bin within five years.

Deployment of the bins will help bring to an end a long period of confusion for Jerusalemites.

A bottle recycling cage, not unlike the type employed by SodaStream for its ads. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A bottle recycling cage (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Until very recently, residents would throw all plastic bottles, besides beverage containers that qualified for a bottle deposit, into cages available around the city.

With the expansion of the deposit law to all beverage containers of up to 5 liters (5.3 quarts), which came into force in December, local authorities removed the cages. With nearly all drink bottles now qualifying, customers are expected to return them to retail outlets for refunds on the deposit they paid upon purchase.

A man recycling plastic bottles in an automatic bottle bank machine at the Yochananof supermarket in Tel Aviv on December 1, 2021. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

The Environmental Protection Ministry had ordered all municipalities to ensure that that the bottle recycling cages were immediately replaced with orange container recycling bins so that other kinds of bottles, for shampoo or detergent, for example, could be recycled.

Jerusalem, however, left residents without any solution, expecting them to throw whatever they were uncertain about into the general green trash containers, which end up at the Atarot sorting facility.

Just to make things even more confusing, the city removed recycling bins for electronic equipment and metal several months ago, eventually replacing them with containers for electronic equipment only.

When asked what to do with metal cans, a spokesman told The Times of Israel that they should henceforth be thrown into the general green bins.

Three men each pushing a green garbage bin walk in Jerusalem on October 27, 2009. (Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

That will change again when the orange bins are rolled out.

The city has promised that an information campaign will accompany the deployment of the orange bins, aimed at citizens in general and schoolchildren in particular.

Jerusalem has promised orange bins in the past and has not stood by its declarations.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion at the 17th annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group, on February 25, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

This time, Mayor Moshe Lion told the Kan station that orange bins, to be equipped with sensors to report when they are full, would constitute another tool to protect the environment by recycling waste.

Environment Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg said in a statement that she welcomes the development and that Jerusalem is joining the “recycling revolution.”

Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg attends a finance committee meeting, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on November 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Local authorities in Israel must provide separately colored bins for packaging waste, glass, paper, cardboard, and electronic waste. Facilities for collecting wood (such as pallets) must be provided for businesses. Green bins are provided for items that cannot be thrown into the recycling bins, such as wet wipes, disposable plastic, dirty diapers, and items that have been soiled such as greasy pizza boxes.

The local authorities must transport this waste to sorting and/or recycling plants and educate the public on how to use the various receptacles.

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