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MED TEST II in Israel – A greener perspective for the industry

As one of the driest countries on earth, making most out of every drop of water has moved Israel to become one of the leading nations in finding innovative solutions to cope with its natural resources. But does this also apply to the industry sector? Eran Doron, environmental consultant shares his experience from the MED TEST II demonstration projects in Israel and reveals what perspectives the TEST methodology could open for Israel’s industry.
Published on Aug 22, 2017

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Eran Doron from Green Target has been working as an environmental consultant with various types of industries in Israel for over 15 years. Green Target, together with Sher Consulting, have since 2015 been working with UNIDO in Israel to display the benefits of a Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) in 4 production sectors. “I have been mainly working in establishing and introducing environmental management systems in Israeli companies, factories and in some other organizations, such as service organizations and high-tech companies. The dynamics over the last 15 years have changed in terms of the reasons why companies look for consulting and support from us. I would say that years ago it was mainly due to compliance reasons. ”

When Israel became a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2010, the government decided to raise environmental requirements to comparable standards of other OECD countries. As a result, the regulation of the industry became stricter and consequentially raised the demand from companies in services that could help them meet the new stringent environmental requirements. “Most managers of the industry don’t see proper environmental management as an opportunity, but merely as a measure to mitigate environmental risks and not the opportunity in reducing financial or cost impacts. They separate it within those two things. They do projects to save money but they do not see the environmental benefit. They take environmental projects to meet compliance and to reduce the risk of penalties but they don't make the connection. “

Beginning in 2015, UNIDO started under the EU funded SwitchMed programme to demonstrate the business case of (RECP) in 7 Israeli companies under the MED TEST II component.  As part of the overall goal of the SwitchMed programme - to promote a sustainable consumption and production in the Southern Mediterranean - the UNIDO TEST methodology (Transfer of Environmental Sound Technologies) is an integrated approach that aims at improving competitiveness and environmental performance of the industrial sector.  “So, the concept of MED TEST II, which connects energy efficiency, material efficiency, and pollution reduction, is not necessarily new, but, it offers a practical approach. The projects which were undertaken in MED TEST II made us look at things differently, even with our existing customers. “

Tambour, a leading paint manufacturer in Israel with six production sites and an annual production of 12,448,000 liters of paints and additives, was before the MED TEST II project confronted in one of its plants to invest 3.9 million euros in an “end-of-pipe technology” in order to comply with environmental regulations. The findings from the MED TEST II project identified alternative solutions in the production process that would save valuable resources and at the same time reduce the emissions from the plant, thus, avoiding the investment in an end of pipe technology and also saving 900,000 euros annual operating costs of the RTO. In parallel to this, the company found potential in raw material and energy savings, corresponding to an annual value of 97,301 euros in savings.

"When you show the people the numbers—for example, to buy this raw material costs you a certain number of euros per ton, and you get one-tenth of that value back when you recycle it, then it clicks. Once you are able to collect the data and you analyze it, it becomes a very strong tool because the dollar value grabs the attention of top managers. If they exceed pollution limits in the wastewater because some of the raw materials end up going into the wastewater, it bothers them, since they may have to pay a fine, but it bothers them much more when they realize how much money they are wasting by losing that raw material they purchased. "

In the 7 plants taking part in the MED TEST II project potential annual saving in energy, water, and raw material were identified, annually saving 8 Million NIS (2 Million Euro) for the companies. The majority of the RECP measures identified had a Pay Back Period (PBP) of less than half a year (51%) and a required investment of under 10,000 NIS, €2500 (36%), showing the high profitability of these investments.

"The opportunity is that it makes sense to people and they see the benefit. The challenge is to get them out of the day-to-day operations and problems to do some strategic thinking. RECP is strategic thinking! As consultants, we help people to look differently at the problems that they are facing, with new tools of strategic thinking. That is better environmental management. "

The experiences with RECP applied in the plastic, food, chemical and mechanical production sectors has proven that TEST can be a capable tool in meeting regulatory requirements and at the same time introducing more sound practices in how industries can deal with resources in their production, making savings for the environment and the economy.

Based on the results from the MED TEST II demonstration project, recommendations on how to scale-up RECP and TEST throughout Israel’s industry have been developed together with the Government of Israel, NGO’s and private-sector stakeholders. One of the key insights from this process is the need of a national platform that would promote RECP and address manufacturers of all sizes (small, medium and large,) improving their environmental performance through economically sound measures. As a result, the Israeli Government has allocated 52 million NIS (20 million euro) for the establishment of an RECP Center for Sustainable Industry to offer a streamlined focus for RECP in Israel.

Click here for more information on the MED TEST II demonstration component in Israel.