I’ve lived in Israel 13 years and have been recycling for much of that time putting plastic bottles in the bottle cages and paper in the round metal canisters around the city.
When it came to other materials like glass and aluminum I’ve always felt like I could be doing more but there hasn’t really been an outlet for that kind of recycling. I know the government is working on it and when they finally revamp the recycling system it will mean a lot to this tiny but great country yet as things go in the Holy Land, it may take a while longer.
It was ironic that the first time I tried returning beer and wine bottles to a local grocery store was just before Passover several years ago and was turned away because they said they already sold their chametz. Understanding the dilemma I threw the bottles in the regular trash planning to try it again sometime, however that sometime lasted longer than I anticipated.
A couple of months ago I did some inquiring and discovered one of the big supermarkets take glass for recycling -but not all glass, as they only accept bottles which say they are worth 25 or 30 agurot.
This was kind of strange because as far as I understand, glass is glass. It’s not like plastic which has enough varieties that much of it can’t be recycled or the costs for doing so are too high. My suspicion is that the situation has something to do with the market, corporations, and big business but I can say for sure.
Nevertheless, I brought a bunch of glass bottles to the store and asked customer service what to do with them. I was told to count how many I had, leave them in a carriage near the register, and come back for my money.
Astonished I asked, “You’re not going to count them?”
No, she wasn’t. It was a total honors system. I could have said I brought 30 bottles instead of 15 and they wouldn’t have known.
Now I know it’s just a little change we’re talking about but it meant something special to know that even in a big chain store in Israel the customer is still trusted even if the customer service could often be tweaked.