Israel’s newly elected hard-right government announced on Sunday that it has repealed a tax that had been in place for a year and had greatly decreased the usage of single-use plastic plates and utensils.
The decision followed resistance to the charge from religious groups who claimed it unfairly targeted their communities. This decision appears to be in defiance of international efforts to minimize the amount of plastic garbage that is contaminating oceans.
Why cut the plastic tax if it works?
Bezalel Smotrich, the minister of finance, announced the cancellation of the levy and advised shoppers to verify whether plastic goods were being sold for less in retailers. According to his spokeswoman, it eliminated the tax for the upcoming year to assist in bringing down consumer prices despite strong inflation.
The minister of environmental protection in Israel stated that she had opposed repealing the tax and hoped a different course of action might be taken. According to the government, sales of single-use plastic items have decreased by almost 40% since the tax’s implementation in November 2021.
The ban is part of Israel’s larger goal to become a world leader in sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint. It aims to decrease plastic waste in the country, which not only harms the environment but also poses a threat to marine life and the food chain.
The shift towards more sustainable alternatives, such as paper and biodegradable plastics, will create new business opportunities and promote innovation in the industry. The ban has received widespread support from the public and environmental groups.
Religion vs. the environment
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, who are majority alongside the far right in the current governing coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu, opposed the plastic levy.
Due to their frequent big families, low wages, and lack of dishwashers, ultra-Orthodox families used plastic ware three times more frequently than the general population, according to a parliamentary report dated November 2021.
In 2021, Israel passed a law banning single-use plastic items, such as straws, utensils, and shopping bags, in an effort to reduce plastic waste and protect the environment. The law applied to businesses and public institutions, with penalties for non-compliance.
Since there were exceptions to the ban, which included plastic items necessary for medical and hygiene purposes, as well as packaging for food and goods, it remains unclear why ultra-Orthodox families did not comply with the flexible ban.
The single-use plastic ban in Israel served as a model for other countries to follow in their efforts to reduce plastic waste and protect the planet.
How things are with the plastic tax and ban in Europe?
Europe has been a leader in the fight against plastic waste, with several countries implementing single-use plastic bans. The European Union has introduced a ban on certain single-use plastic items such as cutlery, straws, and cotton buds as of 2021.
The ban is part of the EU’s broader effort to reduce marine litter and protect the environment. Some countries, such as France, have gone even further by extending their ban to cover a wider range of items, including plastic plates and food containers.
Other countries, such as Italy, have implemented taxes on single-use plastic items as a means of reducing their use. People have met the plastic ban with mixed reactions, with some praising the measures as a step forward in protecting the environment, while others have criticized the lack of alternative options and the potential impact on the economy.
Despite this, the single-use plastic ban in Europe has helped raise awareness about the importance of reducing plastic waste and has encouraged many individuals and businesses to embrace more sustainable practices.