Israel's plastic bottle recycling is steadily growing and now rivals Europe, a new report by the Ela Recycling Association said.
According to the non-profit organization's data, over five million plastic bottles and containers have been recycled in Israel over the past 10 years.
Israel recycles 50.3% of its plastic bottles – more than the United States (29.3%) and similar to Europe (51%).
Israel also recycles 77% of all glass bottles and cans.
"Consumers' recycling habits and norms have been revolutionized," Ela CEO Nehama Ronen told Ynet. "In about 8-9 years of intensive activity we've been able to catch up to Europe, which has been recycling for 25 years."
According to Ela's data, 61% of all containers are recycled, compared to 35% in 2002. The practice has saved Israel over 500,000 tons of waste that otherwise would have ended up in landfills.
Ronen noted that much of the change in the public's behavior was due to the availability of recycling bins, which can now be found on nearly every street in Israel.
The designated bins have contributed to a rise of 20% in recycling – from 20% in 2002 to 40%.
Institutional recycling also contributed to the encouraging data: According to Ronen, over 20 million plastic bottles have been collected in schools alone over the past decade.
"We no longer have to explain why recycling is so important. Children are very aware of it today," she said.
The IDF is also taking an active part in recycling efforts: According to the data, over 7.6 million bottles have been collected by the military, with Military Intelligence's 8200 Unit holding the army's recycling record.
Ronen noted that the religious sector has been making steady progress on the matter, adding that awareness is growing to the importance of plastic recycling in Druze and Arab communities as well.