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Israel seeks to tax disposables to reduce plastic use

by Reuters
Monday, 19 July 2021 13:30 GMT

A man holds a plastic bag filled with cigarette butts he collected from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as part of environmental campaign, at a beach, in Tel Aviv, Israel April 20, 2021. Picture taken April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

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The exact amount of tax on plastic cups, plates, bowls, cutlery and straws has not been decided, but would likely go into effect in 2022

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

"We are drowning in disposable plastic and we all see its problematic effects on the cleanliness of the land and our quality of life," Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg said.

In a joint statement, Zandberg's ministry and the Finance Ministry said the use of disposable utensils had doubled over the last decade in Israel and studies showed that a steep purchase tax would cut usage by 40%.

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

"Disposable plastic production is based on polluting fuels and has a negative impact on the climate crisis," the statement quoted Zandberg as saying.

Annual household consumption of disposable plastic products is 7.5 kg per person in Israel, five times more than in the European Union, with sales of nearly 2 billion shekels ($608.5 million) a year, the ministries said.

Disposable products become waste that can last for thousands of years, the statement said, taking up increasing space in landfills, raising trash disposal costs and polluting the seas.

($1 = 3.2870 shekels) (Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Bernadette Baum)