In the small country of Israel, garbage is a big problem. The unsorted waste that we throw in the trash is collected by trucks that move it to sorting stations, and at the end of the process much of it is transported to landfills. The trucks’ journeys through the city streets require energy, contribute to air pollution and traffic jams, while the landfills take up large amounts of space that could be used for better purposes. One of the solutions to the mountains of waste is separation at source.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of composters have been springing up in public parks, building courtyards, and private homes in Jerusalem. A composter is a container for organic waste, such as scraps of fruits and vegetables and other organic matter, which comprises some 40% of household waste. This organic matter decomposes in the composter and can be used as fertilizer in gardens.

The distribution of compost bins in Jerusalem began in 2008, at the initiative of residents of the Beit Hakerem neighborhood who came together as a non-profit organization. In 2012, the “MahapchYarok (Green Revolution)” – which is responsible for dissemination of information, sale of containers, and operation and maintenance of composters, received municipal recognition and support from the Ginot Ha’ir Community Council and the Municipality. Today, according to data supplied by “MahapchYarok” via director of the initiative Jonathan Plitmann, more than 5,400 households in Jerusalem make use of the containers, either frequently or occasionally. The containers may be divided into the following four categories: containers that operate in parks and schools; containers located in apartment buildings; composters that operate in community gardens and other public spaces; and containers used in private households.

The Katamon neighborhood boasts the largest number of people who use composters, with containers in 507 households. Beit Hakerem is next, with about 500 households, and Rehavia follows closely behind with 495. When examining the ratio between the number of households that use composters per 1,000 residents (in neighborhoods where more than 100 households use them), the finding is that in several neighborhoods, among them Givat Ram and Nayot, and Old Katamon and Rehavia, there is a similar ratio of between 64 and 77. In other neighborhoods the ratio is lower, standing at 49 in Baq’a, at 23 in Rassco, and at 17 in Nahlaot.

The largest number of households – 1,080 – joined the initiative in 2014. In 2018, 988 households joined, and in 2015 the number was 962. Over the years, a trend can be seen as composters are acquired in a wider circle of neighborhoods, extending outward from the center of the city: in 2012/13 the largest number of households to join the initiative were those in Rehavia and Old Katamon  (302 and 220 respectively); in 2014/15 Beit Hakerem and Kiryat Yovel took the lead (with 340 and 243 households joining); while in 2016/17 it was the neighborhoods of Armon Hanatziv and Beit Hakerem – which was again in the top two – (with 140 and 126 households, respectively).

Translated by Gilah Kahn