Environmental Responsibility and the Packaging Management Law in Israel
What's the connection between Earth Day and the Packaging Law? How does it affect our environmental responsibility? Ronit Shahar, Environmental Quality Manager at Strauss Israel, explains.
“Earth Day”, which is marked today around the world, is an annual day which reminds all of us that we live on a living, breathing planet that needs nurturing in order to exist and develop. We at Strauss are aware of the environmental responsibilities incumbent on us at any given moment, and make a point of protecting the environment and minimizing the damage that may occur at every production stage and in all our spheres of business, as part of company policy.
Within our efforts to protect the environment and reduce pollution, I am happy to share with you in this post how Strauss is preparing to implement the new packaging law. I will also tell you about the legislative aspect of it and, of course, its effective implementation at Strauss.
In July 2011, the law for the regulation of packaging waste treatment “, which is officially entitled “Packaging Management Law “, came into effect.
Main provisions of the law:
• Type of packaging: The law applies to packaging from different materials and for a wide range of products (both household and industrial), including paper, glass, plastic, metal and wood.
• Recycling goals: Manufacturers and importers will gradually be required to recycle 60% of the total weight of the packaging of the products they sell or import each year. Producers will have to comply with annual recycling targets according to the type of material.
• Separation of waste: Residents will be required to separate household waste into components before discarding it. Local authorities will be required to make arrangements for the separation of waste into at least two streams (clean organic waste and dry waste)
• Fines and financial sanctions: The fines for non-compliance with the recycling targets isfines for non-compliance with the recycling targets are NIS 2,500 for every ton for which a violation is committed.
• Zero waste for landfilling: Landfilling of packaging waste will be prohibited by January 2020. At that time, packaging may either be recycled or used for energy production.
Various packaging laws have already been practiced around the world for more than 20 years, in keeping with the rationale that since manufacturers send packaging materials to the market (as product packs), they should be responsible for treatment of packaging waste.
From an environmental perspective, the waste management hierarchy runs as follows: preference to reduction at source, namely reducing the amount of waste, then reuse, recycling and restoring (producing energy from waste), and closing the list: landfilling. Packaging laws in the world, as well as the new packaging law in Israel, coincide with this hierarchy and encourage reduction at source in various forms.
In Belgium, for example, 12% of the waste are directed to landfills, 34% to restoring energy and 54% to recycling (OECD data, 2007).
The law regulating management of packaging waste treatment in Israel sets a number of mechanisms that have already come into effect and been applied, and also a number of future mechanisms that should be built .
The first challenge facing the industry is establishing a reporting infrastructure.
As described above, the law determines recycling goals calculated from the total packages sent to market, ie, accurate figures are required about the types of packaging according to categories provided by the law (different types of plastic, glass, paper, wood, etc.), as well as the weight of these packages. This information has not been addressed by the industry to-date, and when it comes to a big company, the collection of such data requires its assimilation in existing IT systems within the organization.
Strauss established a multidisciplinary team, which includes finance, environmental, procurement, information systems and infrastructure people. Since March 2011, this team has engaged in establishing the reporting infrastructure required by law.
Today we are able to obtain accurate information about the weight and type of packaging sent to the market by the entire organization, as well as by each individual business unit. Receiving and monitoring information are made possible by the new work processes that were introduced and still continue to be built today.
Information about the amounts and types of packaging waste will be periodically reported to the Recycling Corporation, and audited by Certified Public Accountants. The Corporation will coordinate all the information about the quantities of packaging waste in the Israeli market, and issue a periodic report to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which, in turn, will examine compliance with the provisions of this law.
Manufacturers, including Strauss, are compelled to transfer payment to the Corporation in respect of packaging waste treatment. Payment is based on the forwarded rate of each packaging material, multiplied by the weight of this packaging type as reported by the manufacturer. Consequently, Strauss will pay millions of Shekels annually in respect of its product packaging.
This mechanism actually provides an incentive for manufacturers to pursue “pursue “prevention at source”, namely reduce the weight of product packaging and hence gain a reduced fee.
An essential and revolutionary component of this new Packaging Management Law is the dependency on each and every citizen.
Although these law provisions apply to the industry and local authorities, their goals will only be achieved ifachieved if, indeed, citizens separate waste at source and throw it in designated recycling locations.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that environmental responsibility rests with each and every one of us, both as inhabitants of the Earth and as an industrial production organization. While our journey to save the environment is long and requires considerable efforts and investment, every step we take brings us closer to the achievement of our supreme goal: protecting the place in which we live, for us and for generations to come.