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The Environment in Israel:
Solid Waste

By Shoshana Gabbay





Historic Overview


Landscape Conservation

Water Quality

Air Quality

Marine & Coastal Environment

Solid Waste

Hazardous Substances

Environmental Research

Toward a
Sustainable Future





Solid waste for recycling
Courtesy: Ministry of the

Still another grave problem in a country with meager land resources and an ever-increasing population is solid waste disposal. Until recently, hundreds of garbage dumps were spread throughout the country and a large part of the population was left without a comprehensive solution to the problem of solid waste disposal. Today, the outlook is brighter. A landmark decision by the government dictated the closure of all illegal landfills and transfer of the waste to a few authorized landfills. Most of the country's waste is now concentrated in 15 state-of-the art landfills and about 85% of the waste is disposed or treated in an environmentally sound manner — in comparison to a mere 10% just a decade ago.


At the same time, waste recovery is being promoted. Today's policy calls for a shift from landfilling to integrated treatment of solid waste based on reduction at source, reuse, recycling, incineration and landfilling. The goal: to reduce the total quantity of waste that the country generates, and the quantity reaching landfills in particular, and to increase waste recovery and recycling to a 50% recovery rate by 2010.


Most of the regulated landfills in the country have already installed systems for leachate [contaminant] collection and treatment, leakage prevention and collection of gas emissions. Several landfills have also begun to operate facilities for landfill gas extraction and energy recovery. In addition to energy savings, this step has important implications for climate change mitigation. Since the contribution of methane emissions from the decomposition of solid waste to carbon dioxide emissions has been most significant, measures such as landfill gas extraction and energy recovery are important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste.


The enactment and implementation of a Deposit Law on Beverage Containers signals an important milestone in the country's recycling efforts. The law aims to improve cleanliness and reduce litter, minimize waste quantities and landfill volume, and encourage recycling and reuse of beverage containers.


In yet another landmark development, the Israel Government resolved, in July 2001, to launch a waste reduction and recycling program in all government offices and affiliated bodies. This "Greening Government" initiative will first focus on the minimization of office waste and use of recycled and environment-friendly products and services.