ISRAEL ENVIRONMENT WEEK
Israel Environment Week, celebrated in early June, was launched with a large-scale beach cleanup along Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The project, largely conceived as an educational and public awareness tool, was carried out with the cooperation of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), Israel’s largest and most influential environmental non-governmental organization. Over 1,500 high school students and members of youth groups and more than 300 adult volunteers cleaned up about 25 kilometers of mostly sandy unofficial beaches. More than 20 tons of litter were collected into some 3,000 bags 70% consisting of plastic articles.
The operation was accompanied by an already familiar logo, the HELMEPA seagull (courtesy of the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association) which was featured on posters, T-shirts, stickers and information pamphlets. A life-size seagull figure (Disneyland style) played with the children and collected litter along with the VIPs which included the Minister of Education, the Minister of the Environment, the Chairman of the Knesset, the Mayor of Tel Aviv, four Knesset members and 14 foreign ambassadors to Israel.
This year, a unique innovation was introduced into the beach cleanup campaign: an underwater cleanup project in Eilat. The campaign, organized by the Ministry of the Environment and the Israel Diving Federation with the cooperation of Eilat’s diving clubs, witnessed the participation of 200 divers along a 4-kilometer stretch. The aim of the underwater cleanup was to rid the water of unsightly and environmentally harmful waste. About two tons of underwater litter were collected.
Israel Environment Week’s central ceremony took place in the Knesset in the presence of several dignitaries and hundreds of environmentalists. Speakers related to environmental achievements in the realms of public awareness, legislation and environmentally-sound industrial development. Special emphasis was given to the hundreds of activities carried out during the course of the Year of the Environment in Israel.
Environmental Prizes to Local Authorities
This year, 49 local authorities — municipalities, regional councils and local councils presented their candidacy for environmental prizes. The following local authorities were chosen to receive the 1993 prize for environmental excellence:
* The municipality of Rishon L’Zion for its high level of maintenance
(cleanliness, gardening, signposts and industrial areas) and for its historic awareness, preservation of national sites, and environmental education and information activities.
* The regional council of Bik’at Beit Shean for the cultivation of its public areas (cleanliness along roadsides and entrances to the settlements), for its investment in environmental projects including public parks and historic sites, and for its operation of a solid waste system and transfer station.
* The local council of Metula for its general excellence in each of the criteria and for serving as a model to other local authorities.
* The relatively new local council of Lehavim for its appearance, cleanliness and gardening.
* The local council of Julis for improvements in its appearance, gardening, signposts, lighting, and treatment of solid waste and sewage.
Certificates of merit were also awarded to six more local authorities: Kochav Yair for its continued excellence in all realms; Holon for its improvements in appearance, maintenance of the transfer station for solid waste and special environmental projects; Kiryat Tivon, for its high level of gardening, cleanliness and signposts as well as for its pioneer activities in recycling; Kafer Kar’a for its progress in solving environmental problems including shutting down the garbage dump and controlling the mosquito problem; Jiser el Zarka for eliminating its garbage dump and transforming it into a peace park and for its improved appearance; and Efrat for its appearance and maintenance of the sewage treatment plant.
Environmental Prize to Industrial Plants
This year was the third year running in which environmental awards were presented by the Ministry of the Environment and the Manufacturers Association to industrial plants excelling in environmental problem- solving. A notable rise in the number and in the types of plants which entered the competition was noted. Seventy plants entered the competition in comparison to forty last year. Criteria included investments in air quality, sewage, waste, noise, environment-friendly products and recycling.
This year’s recipients of environmental awards were Dalkol, Elbit and Iscar. Dalkol of Lod, one of Israel’s pioneer "green" plants, places special emphasis on recycling and on environmental protection in general. Environmental investments have risen dramatically over the years, from $37,000 per year in the years 1985-1991 to $81,000 per year in 1992-1994. The plant, a producer of oil lubricants, was the first plant in Israel to volunteer to institute an environmental management system, in accordance with the new standard for environmental management systems which was published by the Standards Institute of Israel in February 1994 (ISO 1550).
Elbit of Karmiel, a major producer of electronic systems and products, invests between $150,000 to $170,000 per year in environmental improvements, mainly in the realms of recycling, disposal of hazardous waste and environmental reviews. All production processes are subject to "cradle to grave" treatment in order to prevent or minimize adverse environmental impacts.
Iscar, in the Tefen Industrial Park in the Western Galilee, invested some $123,000 in environmental improvements in the years 1992-4. The company, a producer and exporter of carbide cutting tools for the metal removal industry, was established from the outset with environmental and nature protection considerations in mind. The entire packaging system of the company has been converted to recycled materials.
Certificates of merit were awarded to the Nesher cement plant in Beit Shemesh for setting up a modern and efficient filtering system to prevent particulate emissions; Gat in Givat Haim, a food manufacturer which developed and operates a sophisticated system for converting waste into energy during the waste treatment process; and SDA Spice in Kibbutz Sde Elihayu, a spice plant which exemplifies the contribution of the kibbutz industry to green consumerism.
Special certificates were given to veteran winners: Makhteshim Chemical Works in Beer Sheva, a major producer of chemicals and pesticides, and Dor Chemicals in Haifa Bay, a petrochemical plant.