For these kindergartners, recycling is child’s play

| January 23, 2014

If you’ve been excusing yourself from recycling because it’s “too hard,” or “too complicated,” prepare to be humbled. The Jerusalem Post just published a story about the recycling habits of kindergartners — yes, kindergartners ­— in Israel, and those children are putting a lot of us to shame.

A decade ago, Israel embarked on a concerted effort to step up recycling awareness and education efforts. As part of the campaign, educational institutions and community organizations were encouraged to collect glass and plastic beverage containers and recycle them in exchange for cash.

Those institutions took the challenge to heart, recycling nearly 50 million beverage containers since the campaign’s inception in 2003. That has translated to NIS 14 million (approximately $4 million) in bottle deposit cash.

Proof that the awareness efforts have paid off? The number of bottles sent for recycling in 2013 (5 million) represents a 270 percent increase over 2003.

recycling awareness

Israeli kindergartners recycled 58 percent more beverage containers than they did last year following a recycling awareness campaign. From Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection.

A lot of that effort has come from the campaign’s youngest participants. In 2013 alone, “school and kindergarten children” earned NIS 820,000 (approximately $235,000) in bottle deposit cash, according to the article.

Kindergartners reportedly recycled “58% more beverage containers than they did last year,” earning plenty of cash for their efforts.

These promising figures come from the ELA Recycling Corporation, a private, non-profit organization owned by beverage manufacturers in Israel. The ELA’s goal: “to promote, coordinate and fund selective collection, sorting and recycling of bottles and beverage containers as per the Deposit Law in Israel.”

The ELA also focuses on recycling education, especially for children. As part of the program, children are encouraged to save up beverage containers from home and bring them to school to be sent for recycling. They’re rewarded with money for their school, awards, and prizes.

recycling awareness

Recycling has become increasingly popular among Israelis, but they still have a long way to go. From easal.

Starting young seems to be paying off. The ELA reports that Israel’s rising recycling rates (50 percent of the country’s plastic bottles in 2011) beat Europe’s rates (48 percent) and absolutely smashed the rates achieved in the U.S. during the same time frame (29 percent).

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, and there is still room for recycling improvement in Israel. A 2012 feature in JTA asserts that, “Most Jerusalemites don’t recycle at all,” noting that “there is no curbside recycling program” and residents are “used to just dumping…garbage.”

The reason, according to a spokesperson for Israel’s Environment Ministry: “We’re a developing country and everything else was more important, like security and defense; the environment just wasn’t at the top of the list. But now that’s changing.”

In 2011, the state budget allocated a large sum of money to fund additional recycling efforts, so “little by little, Israelis are learning to be more conscious of their environment.”

Based on the accomplishments over the last couple of years, it seems like Israel’s youngest citizens are leading the charge toward a greener future.

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Category: Recycling programs

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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