Israel to abandon plastic tax despite environmental concerns

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Israel’s new government will abandon the country’s tax on single-use plastic plates and utensils, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Sunday, despite environmental concerns.

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The decision, in apparent defiance of global efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is polluting oceans, comes after opposition to the tax from religious parties that said it unfairly targeted their communities.

Smotrich, who was sworn in on Thursday, said his first decision in office is to ax the plastic tax as well as a levy on sugary drinks “as quickly as possible”.

The country’s Environmental Protection Ministry, which has reported a 50 percent drop in the use of such plastic since the tax was introduced in 2021, said it was studying Smotrich’s decision and its consequences.

There was opposition to the plastic tax among ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, which are strongly represented in the new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.

A parliamentary report from November 2021 found that ultra-Orthodox families used plasticware three times more than the rest of the population because they often have large families and low incomes, with many not owning dishwashing machines.

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