There's been a lot of discussion about the new 10 agurot fee for plastic bags at supermarkets, and a lot of noise is being made about this in Israel! Once again, people's facebook posts about the law are becoming headline news - that's how much time and energy this country is devoting to this topic!
Honestly, I believe the fee is too low to actually merit all the backlash it's receiving, but I decided to get some more info for us all, to clear up some questions. I got in touch with the people in charge of the bag program at the Ministry of the Environment, in order to gain some clarity. I asked them a few questions, which I share below:
Which stores are required to collect the 10 agurot fee per bag?
There are 20 supermarket chains that, by law, are required to charge 10 agurot per bag, and report the number of bags distributed, to the Ministry of the Environment. They will also be required to turn over the fee to them .
Here's a list of supermarket chains that meet the requirements (this list is subject to change):
- Zol B'Gadol
- Tiv Taam
- Yeinot Bitan
- Machsanei HaShuk
- Chatzi Chinam
- Dor Alon
- Machsanei Lahav
- Osher Ad
- Super Dosh
- Stop Market
- Super Bareket
- Keshet Te'amim
- Rami Levy
Will smaller stores still be distributing the lighter weight (under 20 microns) bags for free?
No stores will be allowed to distribute bags that are less than 20 microns at checkout, but smaller stores will not be required to charge for the bags and turn over the fee. You should see that ALL stores now distribute bags that are between 20 and 50 microns thick. Exceptions are bags that come into direct contact with food or medicine.
Where does the money that we pay for bags GO?
The money will go to an Environmental Fund. The monies will be monitored and will be used to support the initiatives to reduce the use of plastic bags and increase the use of reusable bags, to clean-up the coastline, and if there is extra, will be used to reduce air pollution as well.
How much will I pay per bag?
By law, the supermarket chains listed above MUST charge a minimum of 10 agurot per bag. The law allows the supermarkets to charge more.
This leads me to believe that while smaller stores are not required to turn over the fee to the Environmental Fund, they may be allowed to charge for bags.
I am going to guess that most stores will be using bags that are JUST the minimum thickness allowed (20 microns), and we won't really notice much difference in the quality of the bags. I still recommend keeping a stash of reusable bags and using them - I find them far more handy and reliable than plastic bags when hauling groceries.
As far as the question of "what will we use for garbage bags"? Well, if you're like me, first you'll use the stash of bags you have lying around the house (yes, even though we often use reusable bags, there have been plenty of times when we have picked up a bag or two here or there) and THEN you'll figure out a solution in 6 months or so, when it will no longer feel so strange to have to figure out an alternative to plastic bags.