December 3, 2012, Updated December 4, 2012

When recycling cages first appeared on neighborhood streets, many Israelis were skeptical that the country’s bottle recycling program would achieve its purpose. But a new report now shows that the Ela Beverage Containers Collection Corporation has collected over five billion plastic drinking bottles in the last decade.

Israel recycles over 50 percent of its plastic bottles.

The report shows that Israel recycles over 50 percent of its plastic bottles – a similar figure to Europe (51%) and far more than the United States (29.3%). Israel also recycles 77% of small glass bottles and cans.

“Consumers’ recycling habits and norms have been revolutionized,” Ela CEO Nehama Ronen told Ynet. “In about eight to nine years of intensive activity we’ve been able to catch up to Europe, which has been recycling for 25 years.”

According to the new report, the recycling of bottles has saved Israel over 500,000 tons of waste that otherwise would have ended up in landfills.

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