Israel Tops in OECD for Plastic Bottle Recycling

An Israeli man works at a recycling bottle factory. Photo by Pierre Terdjman / Flash90
An Israeli man works at a recycling bottle factory. (Pierre Terdjman/Flash90)

After two weeks of promotion, Israelis set a record Sunday – recycling a million bottles in one day, according to Elah, a private company that has been awarded a government tender for implementing recycling services. The group over the past two weeks has aggressively promoted the idea of recycling glass and plastic bottles instead of throwing them away.

Israel was already considered a world leader in plastic bottle recycling. On average, Israelis recycle 750,000 plastic bottles a day, 61 percent of the total bottles “in circulation” per capita. The OECD average for that statistic is 59 percent. In the U.S., fewer than 30 percent of plastic bottles are recycled, OECD figures show.

The organization takes credit for the increased awareness among Israelis of the importance of recycling plastic bottles, in part due to education efforts. Elah runs programs for schools of all kinds, from kindergarten age and up, providing active opportunities, contests, and other projects for children to participate in recycling efforts, thus raising their awareness, which “trickles up” to their parents and the community at large, said Nehama Ronen, head of the group.

“The positive recycling figures show that the investment we have made in education and information efforts for the public have paid off,” Ronen said. “We will continue to build on these accomplishments and advance the cause of recycling in Israel even further.”

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