Promoting recycling of commercial-institutional organic waste
Organic waste treatment is the final recycling frontier challenging many countries, including Israel.
Commercial-Institutional Organic Waste (CIOW) is a significant component of Israel’s solid waste (approximately 40% volume).
CIOW is also the most complex waste stream for treatment. The main difficulty lies in harnessing actors in the waste process to achieve a separate, clean stream from which the valuable product – compost at agricultural level – can be produced.
How does that vision become a reality?
CIOW is the general term for food waste produced by hotels, supermarkets, markets, central dining rooms, etc. A business or institution can easily separate waste at low cost and produce a high-quality, clean stream of organic waste for recycling, thereby increasing the economic viability of establishing and operating advanced treatment facilities and leading to the creation of an advanced market for high-quality compost.
In Israel, organic waste mostly goes to landfill. Various factions, most of them economical or political, are trying to promote the notion that the era of waste separation is over, and that our focus should be placed solely on technological solutions – incinerators and major sorting facilities (MBT).
However, this claim contradicts prevailing trends in the Western world, especially in Europe, but also in North America, where it is understood that high rates of reduction and recycling cannot be achieved without composting of food waste, to agricultural standards, in appropriate facilities.
Recently, the European Union adopted two ‘revolutionary’ steps towards large scale processing of organic waste:
- Implementation of separation-at-source of commercial-institutional organic waste by December 2023, after which binding annual targets will be set.
- CIOW not separated at source and treated in non-segregated sorting facilities will not be deemed ‘recycled waste’, in order to eliminate ‘fake recycling’ favored by proponents of technological solutions.
The global trend is to prioritize separation-at-source
Many countries have introduced regulations that specifically address the commercial-institutional sector, including Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, and numerous US and Canadian states (California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vancouver and more).
There is already evidence that separation-at-source at the commercial-institutional level increases organic waste transferred for biological and recycled treatment, expands investment in treatment facilities, and provides a steady stream of food donations to food rescue organizations.
Israel must act now
Adam Teva V’Din estimates that CIOW in Israel is approximately 20% (2.4 million tonnes) of the annual burden of waste handlings by municipalities every year.
In 2020, we submitted data and our recommendations to the Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, advising adoption of an initial, viable target of 150,000 tonnes recycling and collection of CIOW per year.
Our recommendations were included in the Minister’s Strategic Plan on Solid Waste, announced in January 2021. Because of the uncertain political situation and pending elections in March 2021, we strongly advised the Minister to secure a Government Resolution to this effect and thus ensure parliamentary continuity whatever the outcome.