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

Large retail chains reported sales of approximately 378 million disposable bags in 2017 following the passage of the so-called 'bag law.'

The sales represented a drop of approximately 80% from 2016, when 1.753 billion bags were purchased by retailers for distribution to customers. The figure represents a dramatic reduction of about 1.375 billion bags over a single year.

Under the law, shoppers at supermarkets and grocery stores have to pay a 10 agorot tax (between 2-3 cents) for each plastic bag they wish to use when checking out of the stores. It was hoped that the law will protect the environment by cutting down on the number of non-biodegradable plastic bags in use.

The law appears to be having its intended affect, as consumers used 7,091 tons less of disposable plastic bags - enough to fill 395 buses - than in the previous years.

According to the size of the retail market, in 2016 the State of Israel consumed 2.8 billion disposable bags or 325 bags per capita, while in 2017 the State consumed 1.5 billion bags, or 171 bags per person. In this manner, the rate of reduction of consumption of disposable bags in the State of Israel fell by about 53%.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection set targets for reducing the use of bags for future years based on these results. A memorandum of regulations recently submitted by the Ministry indicates that in order to maintain the current success, a target of 170 bags per person was set for the years 2019-2025; 120 bags per person between 2025 and 2030; And every year from 2031 onwards - 65 bags per person, an ambitious reduction target of 80% for the entire market.

In order to meet the objectives of reducing the use of disposable bags, the Ministry plans to examine additional possibilities and mechanisms, including a future mechanism for the prohibition of free distribution of disposable bags in all Israeli businesses and extensive enforcement of packaging packaging manufacturers and importers.