Plastic bags, on their way out?
Plastic bags, on their way out?Flash 90

Those ubiquitous plastic bags from the supermarket: it seems every Israeli has a bunch of them rolled up under the kitchen sink, because you never know when they'll come in handy. But all that is about to change.

The Knesset approved Monday night in the first reading a bill that sets a price tag of 30 agorot for each of the bags, which were handed out free until now. The bill has been relayed to the Economics Committee, which is tasked with preparing it for the second and third readings in the coming weeks.

The bill also determines that every household will receive seven reusable and recyclable cloth bags, for use instead of the plastic bags. The Ministry of Environmental Protection will launch a media campaign a few weeks from now, and call on the public to scale back the use of plastic bags, or “nylon bags” as they are usually referred to in Israel.

The Minister of Environmental Protection, Amir Peretz (Hatnua) said following the bill's initial approval that “a few months from now, bags will no longer be handed out in a wasteful way in the grocery stores and supermarket chains. Every MK who voted for the bill is my partner today in the struggle against an addiction that has turned into a dangerous and polluting dependency.

"We are fighting the phenomenon that has turned into a symbol of money wasting and has taken a steep environmental toll. I am sensitive to the arguments of the bag manufacturers in Israel, but the law, which will do good by the public and the environment,must not be stopped.”

According to Gilad Ostrovsky, from the environmental NGO Adam Teva Vedin, “The plastic bags pollute the open spaces, they clog the landfills, they are eaten by animals and sometimes cause their death. They collect in the sea, in the water reservoirs, and constitute ecological damage for the coming generations,” he told Channel 2 News Online.