No More Free Plastic Bags in Israel

by , 01/16/08
filed under: News, Policy, San Francisco

plastic bag ban, israel bag ban, plastic bags banned, city ban on bags, bags banned, plastic shopping bags

It looks like 2008 will keep up last year’s momentum of phasing out plastic bags whenever possible. Just as the new year rang, word came around that a bill had been introduced in Israel that would mandate a charge to customers for every plastic bag taken at the supermarket.

The charge won’t affect every bag given to customers. Bags that contain fish, meat, poultry or fresh produce won’t incur any charge. But aside from that, every plastic bag given to a customer will incur a charge of 1 NIS which will be shown as a separate item on their receipt. The proposal will also subsidize for 6 months the sale of reusable bags, in order to create public awareness of the law.

As we’ve seen before, plastic bags are on the way out – and with good reason. These useless pieces of waste clog up landfill and make their way to rivers and oceans where they choke and kill wildlife. Starting with San Francisco, then Melbourne, China, and even manycountries in Africa, cities and countries are starting to rethink the millions of plastic bags that end up in landfill, all for just seconds of use between your grocery store and your kitchen.

And just to drive the point home- some numbers to ponder:

4 trillion to 5 trillion: Number of nondegradable plastic bags used worldwide annually.

430,000 gallons: Amount of oil needed to produce 100 million nondegradable plastic bags.

+ Ministerial c’tee okays charge of NIS 1 per plastic bag

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  1. Kat January 20, 2008 at 3:04 am

    i don’t think plastic bags will go away permanently, bob. the many many people who walk dogs (at least the considerate ones) use plasic bags to collect their pets’ deposits, and litter box liners are definitely a must. i’m thinking that if you want a plastic garbage can liner, though, you’ll have to start buying them. i think the most interesting thing is gianluca’s comment about biodegradable plastic bags. reminds me of the inhabitat article about the biodegradable plastic sinverware. what a great solution!

  2. Kat January 20, 2008 at 2:58 am

    no more free plasic bags at ikea, either.

  3. simon seasons January 17, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Dear Bob Ellenberg. Plastic shopping bags are great to reuse for rubbish bags but really they are as recyclable as any other plastic. it’s just a matter of sorting out the differant polymere’s which can be achieved with refraction technology these days. As for kitchen waste, why can’t you recycle it as compost. I have heard of worm farms for instance that are being used in apartments in Sydney that don’t even have a balcony. The liquid by product is used to feed luscious potplants and window sill herb gardens and the solid waste in added to any nieghbourhood garden that can be found. Also in Melbourne I know of apartment dwellers who joined a garden co op that operates a vege garden on an old two acre lawn bowling green that takes all the composting material it can and turns it into veges for old ladies etc. Another one give each menber a square metre to look after and the compost is made communally from everyone waste.
    It’s the sort of thing you could organise on a New York roof top maybe? Don’t throw away good composting material, especially the paper that adds nitrogen to the vege waste and stops it stinking.

  4. simon seasons January 17, 2008 at 8:01 am

    It’s a great idea but not a new one. A lot of German cities have been charging for the use of plastic bags for at least fifteen years. Also they have had recycle bins on lots of street corners IN THE suburbs for at least fifteen years too. I say fifteen years because that’s the last time I was there and everywhere I shopped I got charged close to half a mark per plastic bag and then I took the empty bottles to these huge fibreglass bins that held about a tonne and were swapped onto a passing truck every two weeks or so with a hyab truck crane. Actually i remember now there was a bin for clear glass and one for green and brown and the sound of glass smashing was a constant. You could tell the ones who were grumby from those who were just diligent.

  5. Josh January 16, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I wonder… what would it take for another large American city to do this? What is the best way that one consumer in this city could possibly catalyze this change? I would love to see San Diego be the next big city to do this. How does something like that happen?

  6. Bob Ellenberg January 16, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I would like the opinions of others concerning plastic trash bags–particularly for kitchen waste. I hear talk of banning plastic from grocery stores and the Walmarts of the world but nothing concerning garbage bags. I recycle all of the plastic bags I get from the store for my kitchen garbage and never buy plastic trash can liners. If I didn’t use a liner or used paper bags only, I’d be using a lot more water and paper towels to clean and sop up the messy waste before putting it in the linerless trash cans.

    Anyones thoughts?

  7. Adam Russell January 16, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I am very interested in a bill like this in my local Portland area. Does anyone know of a way to get this thing rolling in my area? Should I talk to local representatives, local council, etc or would I need to make a write up of some sorts? Thanks for the article. I continually enjoy reading the blog.

  8. Gianluca January 16, 2008 at 6:50 am

    Well, I fail to see the news. In Italy for example you get charged a tax for taking plastic bags by a law at least 10 (i guess 15) years old. Unfortunately this hasn’t encouraged that much the use of paper bags in my experience. More interesting, in my opinion, are the “coop” (it’s a local supermarket chain) bags, they are fully bio-degradable in less than 2 years time, and they have indeed an expiring date on the bag: I can confirm that just after 1 year they become so thin they’re unusable.

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