Recycling station in Afula. Photo by Shay Levy/FLASH90
Recycling station in Afula. Photo by Shay Levy/FLASH90

My kids came home after school not long ago with the important message that if I threw a cardboard box in the green garbage bins, the police would come and fine me. While I highly doubted that scenario, I was happy to hear that they were getting environmental education in the classrooms.

Israel’s conservation culture has been spotty over the years, but a definite improvement has been marked with the plastic bottle awareness campaign and now the packaged products, dry-garbage operation.

In fact, the ELA Recycling Corporation announced earlier this year that since 2012 Israel has bested the US and Europe in recycling plastic bottles.

Israel has advanced separation facilities that do the sorting for you. But the Tamir dry-garbage campaign – which is run by the Manufacturers Association of Israel – has been gaining steam thanks to its crazy videos (and added taxes).

Tamir was set up so that manufacturers and importers of packaged products could fulfill the requirements as set out by the Packaging Law (2011). When the Ministry of Environmental Protection jacked up the cost of treating non-recycled garbage, municipalities started begging for more orange-colored bins.

Like in other countries, there are different colored bins for different garbage. In Israel, green bins are for wet-garbage, blue bins are for newspapers and paper, yellow cages are for plastic bottles, and orange bins are for dry garbage. According to reports, and my children, we’ll soon see purple bins for glass recycling. Those who choose to compost, do so privately for now.

To help Israel’s citizens sort it all out in their heads, companies involved in recycling create commercials, usually aimed at children. Tamir has launched a bunch of funny videos but the latest, showing people throwing dry-garbage in the new Tamir orange-colored bins from unlikely heights and locations, surprised everyone when it went viral. In just two weeks, it racked up some 900,000 views.

I only hope that the same kids being taught to recycle will remember not to litter – and remind their parents not to drop garbage — in nature reserves and parks. Because despite signs requesting that hikers and park-goers put their trash in designated bins, this part of the country’s upkeep is still a major predicament. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority might want think about producing a video.