Israel drops plastic tax despite environmental gains
Israel's new hard-right government said on Sunday it had dropped a year-old tax that had significantly reduced the consumption of single-use plastic plates and utensils.
The decision, in apparent defiance of global efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is polluting oceans, came after opposition to the levy from religious parties that said it unfairly targeted their communities.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the tax was cancelled and urged customers to check that stores were lowering prices of plastic wares. His spokesman said the tax was repealed for the coming year to help lower consumer prices amid high inflation.
Israel's environmental protection minister said she had opposed ending the tax and hoped an alternative solution could be found. The ministry reported that sales of the disposable plastic items were roughly 40% lower now than when the tax came into effect in November 2021.
There was opposition to the plastic tax among ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that are strongly represented along with the far right in the new governing coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
A parliamentary report from November 2021 found that ultra-Orthodox families used plasticware three times more often than the rest of the population because they often have large families and low incomes, with many not owning dishwashers.