Israel wants to tax single-use items to reduce plastic consumption

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Plastic waste can be seen on Zikim Beach, on the Mediterranean coast near the southern city of Ashkelon, Israel, February 10, 2019. Picture from February 10, 2019. REUTERS / Amir Cohen

JERUSALEM, July 19 (Reuters) – Israel plans to impose a heavy purchase tax on disposable items to discourage their use and protect the environment, government agencies said Monday.

“We are drowning in disposable plastic and we all see the problematic effects on the cleanliness of the country and our quality of life,” said Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg.

In a joint statement, the von Zandberg Ministry and the Treasury Department said the use of single-use items in Israel has doubled in the past decade, and studies have shown that a high purchase tax would cut consumption by 40%.

The exact amount of the tax on plastic cups, plates, bowls, cutlery and straws – both on local producers and imports – has not yet been set, ministries said, adding that an increase would likely come into effect in 2022.

“The single-use plastic production is based on environmentally harmful fuels and has a negative impact on the climate crisis,” Zandberg is quoted in the statement.

The annual household consumption of single-use plastic products in Israel is 7.5 kg per person, five times more than in the European Union, with a turnover of nearly 2 billion shekels (608.5 million US dollars) per year, the ministries said.

Single-use products are becoming waste that can last for thousands of years, the statement said, taking up more and more landfill space, increasing waste disposal costs and polluting the oceans.

($ 1 = 3.2870 shekels)

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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