Israel’s biggest supermarket chains have signed on to a government initiative to rid the country of the scourge of plastic bags, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.
The grocery executives pledged their support for the Environmental Protection Ministry’s “Pact for the Utilization of Multiuse Baskets,” to be implemented upon passage of a bill banning the distribution of free plastic bags. Among those represented were: Shufersal, Mega, Rami Levi, Hatzi Hinam, Victory, Yenot Bitan, Super Sapir, Keshet Teamim, Machsanei Hashuk, King Store and Merav Mazon Kol.
The supermarket chains agreed to purchase Environmental Protection Ministry-sponsored reusable bags when the bill becomes law, probably at the end of October.
“The use of plastic bags has turned into an addiction, which has become a dangerous and polluting dependence,” said Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz. “Reducing the use of plastic bags is a part of the very important environmental and cultural revolution that will greatly affect daily life.”
Israeli households are to receive two coupons, one for four such bags and a second for three bags a few months after the first coupon, ministry officials said. The ministry plans to distribute the coupons via the Israel Electric Corporation’s utility bills.
The bill submitted by Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz requires all grocery stores to charge at least 40 agorot (about 12 cents) per plastic bag at their checkout counters.
Small free plastic bags for raw fruits and vegetables would still be permissible in both supermarkets and urban “shuk” settings.
The ministry said violators could be fined up to thousands of shekels.