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Store won’t refund your bottle deposit? Environment Ministry urges you to snitch

Call follows raids by ministry’s Green Police on 59 businesses, triggering fines and legal proceedings

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

Empty plastic bottles lie strewn on a Dead Sea beach, November 5, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Empty plastic bottles lie strewn on a Dead Sea beach, November 5, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Environmental Protection Ministry on Monday called on citizens to report instances of bottled drinks retailers, wholesalers, importers or manufacturers who violate a deposit law intended to encourage consumers to return beverage containers for recycling.

The call came following raids by the ministry’s Green Police on retail chains about which members of the public have complained.

Working together with the environmental protection unit of the Israel Police, the inspectors burst into 59 businesses and have already opened proceedings against several storehouses owned by drinks importers and manufacturers who failed to label their bottles and cans.

Additional businesses that had either refused to take bottles back and issue refunds, or that were found with unmarked bottles, were fined on the spot.

In the case of some importers, the requirement to return a deposit was printed on the plastic packaging of the containers, but not on the containers themselves, which is also contrary to the law.

Collecting plastic bottles in Jerusalem, November 14, 2006. (Pierre Terdjman / Flash90)

Since 2001, when the government passed the Deposit Law on Beverage Containers, a refundable sum — currently NIS 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.

On December 1, bottle deposits will be extended to drinks containers of between 1.5 and 5 liters (1.6 to 5.3 quarts).

Estimating that the move will save Israelis some NIS 56.3 ($16.7) million a year, collection companies NIS 45.6 ($13.5) million and local authorities NIS 4.4 ($1.3) million, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said in announcing the deposit extension that it 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 landfills and create new green jobs, the minister said.

Israel, like most countries, is swimming in single-use plastic bottles, which litter public spaces such as parks, nature reserves, beaches, rivers and the sea.

Members of the public wishing to report companies that violate the law can do so by writing to pniot@sviva.gov.il.

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