Waste Legislation : Israel to impose single-use plastic tax

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The Israeli government intends to double taxes on single use plastics in a move to curb plastic consumption.

According to the Finance and Environmental Protection Ministries, the tax raise should lead to a 40% slash in plastic consumption. On average, Israelis use 7,5 kg of single-use plastics per person each year, five times the amount used in the European Union.

The exact tax amount on flexible plastics such as cups, plates, bowls, cutlery and straws has not yet been determined by the government.

In a joint statement issued by the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Finance Ministry, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg was quoted to have said: “Disposable plastic production is based on polluting fuels and has a negative impact on the climate crisis”.

Of the over 380 million tonnes of plastic waste produced on an annual basis, 50% consists of single use plastics. In use for mere moments, the plastic bags, takeaway containers and disposable coffee cups threaten to clog landfills for thousands of years to come, significantly contributing to coastal and marine pollution. This is why the United Nations Environment Program has called on governments to take action to curb plastic waste.

“We are drowning in disposable plastic and we all see its problematic effects on the cleanliness of the land and our quality of life,” Environmental Minister Zandberg said.

According to the Arava Institute, an academic and environmental Middle Eastern institute, Israeli progress towards a circular economy has so far been driven by concerted efforts of industry partners, the civic society, the educational sector as well as select entrepreneurs.

The report ‘A new perspective on plastic waste in Israel: A circular economy’ points out how government efforts to establish a circular plastic model economy have been scant so far, arguing that without a legislative backbone to fall back on, the 2018 plans of the Finance and Environmental Protection Ministries to implement a national programme for streamlining resources and a circular economy in the industry were doomed to fail.

Regulatory efforts such as the 2017 tax on plastic bags, which helped cut plastic usage by 80%, proved that governmental intervention can help render the country more sustainable.

Plastic makes up 41,1% of Israel’s solid waste composition by volume.

The new tax proposal will be submitted for review by the Environmental and Finance Ministries to Knesset’s finance committee. On approval, said plastic tax may come into effect in early 2022.