Outgoing Minister Peretz: "Just like I got excited when I saw the Iron Dome intercept its first rocket, I got excited today when I saw our unique facility turning waste into gas that can cook coffee. I chose this event to be the last in which I’ll participate as a minister because it clearly demonstrates the unbreakable bond in which I believe – between environmental justice, social justice, and peace. Instead of garbage, that would have otherwise been thrown on the street and burned, today it is raw material that can produce cooking gas and electricity. I am happy that in this event in [the Bedouin village of] Umm Batin, I can look Israeli society in the eyes and say that we can all live here together!"
Waste management has long been a problem in Israel’s Bedouin sector, due to lack of infrastrucure. When he began his tenure as environmental protection minister, Peretz, who resigned from the post on Sunday, November 9th, vowed to change that. In 2013, a Government Decision was approved allocating NIS 40 million for the establishment of a waste treatment system in Bedouin communities. The system began with a pilot program in the recognized village of Umm Batin, to install biogas generators and modern underground trash bins. The biogas generators use anaerobic digesters to convert organic waste into cooking gas and liquid fertilizer. Each unit costs NIS 8,000 and can produce enough electricity and gas for an average household.
The dedication ceremony in Umm Batin on Tuesday, November 11th was for biogas generators that will operate in the El Kassoum Regional Council, which is the area from east of Be’er Sheva to Arad and includes unrecognized Bedouin villages. This marks the first time ever that Israel is funding waste collection in unrecognized villages.
The unique biogas project generated interest in the Dominican Republic, which is dealing with the phenomenon of deforestation as a result of the desperate need for wood heating in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti. The Caribbean island ordered 50 units in order to conduct its own pilot program.