Solid waste is an environmental problem of the first order, daily causing significant and irreversible damage to Israel’s air, soil, groundwater, and quality of life. It is a complex problem requiring long-term investment in infrastructure, legislation, and manpower.
In Israel, the problem is exacerbated by the annual 2.5% rise in population, rising consumption, shortage of available land and a continuing increase in the per capita volume of garbage generated. Until the government engineers a long-range, comprehensive solid waste program not solely dependent on the varying competencies of local authorities, solid waste will continue to threaten natural resources and public health.
Over the last decade Israel has come a long way along the road to developing an integrated solid waste management system. “Out of sight, out of mind” is no longer the order of the day. The legislative framework is stronger and many of the environmentally dangerous landfills desecrating the countryside have been closed, and those remaining are on the whole operating with improved environmental safeguards.
After a slow start, recycling of municipal waste is beginning to take hold, thanks in large part to IUED’s persistence in filing multiparty petitions to the High Court of Justice. The IUED-drafted and promoted Deposit Law is beginning to impact on the many millions of beverage containers buried in landfills. Many players in the solid waste industry – the Environment Ministry, some municipalities, the Union of Local Authorities – are evidencing new attitudes; there is a new political willingness to address the broad array of serious and pressing problems Israel needs to tackle if it is to manage solid waste disposal in a sustainable, safe and responsible manner.