March 15, 2012, Updated May 8, 2012

The conservation culture in Israel has always been way behind that of the US. In fact, visitors used to comment at how, on the one hand, how beautiful the country was, and on the other hand, how roadsides were littered with mounds of trash thrown from car windows.

While there’s plenty of roadside garbage still out there, recent years have seen great strides being made to encourage the recycling of bottles and paper. Recycling bins are now commonplace in almost all residential neighborhoods and have become a welcome part of the everyday landscape.

So much so that the company that has the bottle recycling service, ELA, announced this week that the rate that Israelis are turning in their used plastic bottles is now exceeding that of the US and Europe.

According to the stats, Israelis recycled 50 percent of the country’s plastic bottles in 2011, overtaking Europe at 48% and the United States at 29%. The actual amount was 20,000 tons of plastic, up from 16,000 in 2010.

In 2011, 140 municipalities and regional councils across the country – including 20 new participants – installed about 4,400 new recycling bins, bringing the country’s total number of bins to about 15,000, the ELA report said.

I and my family certainly do our part, bringing our plastic bottles and old newspapers to the neighborhood bins on a weekly basis.

However, as afar as glass bottle requiring a deposit, I haven’t quite gotten there yet. Israelis collected about 77% of all beverage containers – plastic and glass – requiring deposit in 2011, exceeding the government’s target of 73% and amounting to about 600 million beverage containers.

I’m still am wary about using those bottle refund machines in the supermarkets, ever since I inserted a wine bottle and it came shooting back out like a rocket, landing on the floor in front of me and smashing into a million pieces while provoking the stares and ‘tsks’ of my fellow shoppers.

So for now, I leave that task to my wife, and concentrate on the plastic and the paper, as we join our fellow Israelis in our conservation future.

More on Blog

Fighting for Israel's truth

We cover what makes life in Israel so special — it's people. A non-profit organization, ISRAEL21c's team of journalists are committed to telling stories that humanize Israelis and show their positive impact on our world. You can bring these stories to life by making a donation of $6/month. 

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

Read more: