They may cost no more than ten agurot (3.5¢), but the new law charging Israelis for the use of plastic bags seems to be having the desired effect: Use of plastic bags by Israelis in supermarket shopping sank 80% in the second quarter of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. With that, plastic bag usage was up slightly in the second quarter, compared to the first quarter of 2017, when 78 million plastic bags were sold, the Environment Ministry announced.
In the second quarter of 2016, 450 million plastic bags were used by Israeli supermarket shoppers. The reduction in the number of plastic bags means that there are 1,800 fewer tons of plastic in the environment.
Plastic bags are considered a major environmental hazard, as there are so many of them in use. According to environment experts, it takes hundreds of years for plastic buried in landfills to break down, extensively polluting the environment. In addition, environmental groups point to many incidents in which birds and animals ingest or get tangled up in the bags, with many of them suffering and dying as a result. According to environmental experts, the average Israeli shopper had been using ten plastic bags per supermarket shopping trip.
Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin said that the reduction in the number of plastic bag usage “is part of the ongoing efforts by the Ministry to reduce stress in the environment before it occurs, not only afterwards.”