Israel to legislate the end of plastic bags in supermarkets
In order to prevent further pollution, the Environmental Protection Ministry is drafting a law that bans distributing plastic bags in chain stores.
By Dan Lavie
Plastic bags have long been part of the Israeli landscape — for better or (mostly) for worse. In fact, Israelis are practically addicted to these bags, with every citizen consuming some 275 plastic bags on average a year, playing their part in polluting the environment. But now the Environmental Protection Ministry aims to put a stop on this: The office is drafting a bill that will prohibit retail chain stores do distribute free plastic bags.
Disappearing from the landscape – Photo: Yehoshua Yosef
The bill — which is in its final stages — calls for a transition period where reusable baskets will be distributed to the public instead of disposable bags. The baskets will be funded by the retail chains who spend about 80 million shekels a year on plastic bags (the expense is then passed on to the consumers through product pricing).
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz has already met with retail executives a few months ago and updated them about his intentions. His office is currently working with a designer to decide how the baskets that will be publicly distributed will look and what materials they will be made out of. The move will also be accompanied by a public campaign to prevent the usage of plastic bags.
It seems — theoretically at least — that the ministry will not have a hard time convincing people: According to polls by their office, over 70 percent of the population support stopping the distribution of plastic bags for free. The main reason for this is that a big part of the public is well aware of the environmental consequences and risks of using these bags. About a quarter of all bags are thrown away quickly after they are used, and remain in waste sites for hundreds of years until they ultimately disintegrate. A large part of the bags cause damage on open landscapes and pollution in urban areas, nature reserves, beaches — and of course the ocean itself.
And that’s not all: The shape of the bags and their light weight allow them to fly long distances, making it difficult to collect them. Many animals in Israel (mostly the ibex population) suffer injuries after eating plastic bags. Approximately 100,000 marine animals die each year globally as a result of swallowing plastic bags.
“I plan to bring a new reality, where plastic bags will disappear from the Israeli landscape and culture,” Peretz explained. “Israel will align itself with the most advanced countries in the industry — and also in Israel shopping will be done with reusable baskets.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=15413