Two of Israel’s coastal cities, Herzliya and Eilat, have announced plans to ban single-use plastics from their beaches. Banned items include but are not limited to plastic bags, plastic straws, and plastic cutlery. Both cities will be joining a growing list of countries and municipalities around the world’s coasts that have passed similar bans on single-use plastics, including Peru, Chile, and several US states.
The city of Eilat, located on the Red Sea, intends to tackle plastic waste on its beaches through a two-stage plan. This plan includes educating and discouraging local businesses from using plastics, and then enforcing the ban on single-use plastics from its beaches. Plastic water bottles will be exempt from the ban, however. Eilat’s city hall also plans to organize a campaign to raise awareness among residents and visitors about the harmful effects of plastic on marine life and coral reefs. For Eilat, banning single-use plastics from its beaches will be crucial to preserving its world-famous coral reefs that attract divers from around the world. Eilat’s ban on single-use plastics from its beach also coincides with Egypt’s Red Sea Governorate’s ban on all single-use plastics from its beaches by June. With authorities in two different countries announcing bans on single-use plastics from their beaches, there may be a chance for a more aggressive push to eliminate plastic waste from the Red Sea. Eilat is also collaborating with governmental agencies and organizations to educate visitors, residents and business owners about the harmful effects of plastic waste through social media campaigns and billboards.
Herliya’s ban on single-use plastics from its Mediterranean beaches is part of a joint initiative between its local government and the Israeli environmental organization Zalul (“clear”), launched on January 2018. Herzliya’s mayor Moshe Fadlon intends to make his municipality the starting point for a mission to ban single-use plastics across Israel. Fadlon plans to create a ripple effect by encouraging other cities to follow Herzliya, and eventually introducing a national law in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, which will prohibit single-use plastics from the entire country. Israel’s government has taken notice of the growing concern over the harmful effects of plastic on the world’s waters. The Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry’s data estimates that plastics comprise 90 percent of trash in marine environments, with nearly 60 percent of that waste coming from trash thrown onto beaches. The ministry is also looking into investigating how much of the amount of plastic on Israel’s beaches comes from other countries, and how much of that amount is generated within the country. Plastic waste has a tremendous impact on the environment. Not only does plastic waste hurt or kill marine animals and birds that mistake it for food, but this waste can break down into micro-particles that can migrate through the food chain and end up in human bodies.
The new ban on single-use plastics from the beaches of Herzliya and Eilat shows promise, as both cities are tackling plastic pollution in two major bodies of water, as well as taking the steps of raising national awareness through PR and policy campaigns. Should these efforts succeed, Israel may become a world leader in eliminating single-use plastic waste. Tourists visiting Israeli beaches may soon take out lunch from biodegradable fiber cartons, and enjoy their beverages with paper straws instead of their plastic counterparts.