Following a six-month tender process, the Ministry of Economy and Industry and the Ministry of Environmental Protection have selected the Weitz Center for Sustainable Development as the franchise holder to operate a new center for more efficient use of resources in industry.
The center is scheduled to open in two months. The two ministries say that it will provide a professional anchor for thousands of enterprises, most of them small and medium-sized, in adapting the industrial production environment to expanding environmental regulation. The two ministries will jointly budget NIS 51 million for the center's activity over a five-year period, and industrial companies receiving services from the center will pay an additional NIS 30 million. The Ministry of Finance is also involved in the plan.
For the past decade, industry in Israel has cited environmental regulation as one of the most burdensome forms of regulation in day-to-day activity. According to figures from the Ministry of Economy and Industry, industry has invested an average of NIS 3 billion a year for the past decade on installing equipment to reduce pollutant emissions.
The two ministries regard these investments as "putting out fires." While they provide quick solutions on the spot to air and water pollution problems resulting from industrial activity, the company making the investment does not derive a profit from the solution.
As part of the joint staff work at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Economy and Industry during the past year, the situation in Israel was assessed in comparison with other OECD member countries. It was discovered that half of the money invested in these countries on low-environmental footprint manufacturing solutions consists of investment in products and development of innovative technologies that streamline the use of resources in the production process.
Oz Katz, head of the Ministry of Economy and Industry Industries Administration told "Globes," "We set a target of making the situation in Israel the same as in OECD countries in 4-5 years. Up until now, investments in this area have been neither environmentally nor economically optimal for the company making the investment and the Israeli economy. When the new center opens, Israeli industry can be exposed to the global vanguard of clean manufacturing know-how and technologies, while at the same time promoting adoption of innovative technologies to be developed in Israel."
The new center is to be operated by the Weitz Center, which has joined forces with the World Zionist Organization for the purpose. The Weitz Center previously led a pilot on behalf of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) that examined ways of using resources more efficiently in seven enterprises in various sectors of the Israeli economy. Weitz Center managing director Adi Dishon is slated to head the new center for more efficient use of resources as well.
An examination by the Ministry of Economy and Industry revealed that the new center can potentially handle 4,500 enterprises nationwide, most of them small and medium-sized enterprises with up to 400 employees. The Ministry of Economy and Industry says that these enterprises belong to all industrial sectors: chemicals, metals, paper, plastics, etc.
Most of the services to be provided by the new center will be professional consultancy and guidance services for industrialists. The two government ministries involved say that any such program is likely to amount to several hundred thousand shekels. The services will be based on analysis of the particular challenges and opportunities facing each enterprise in its production processes and finding new methods and technologies around the world that can reduce pollution and industrial waste of various kinds, in addition to upgrading the means of production.
The Ministry of Economy and Industry said today that companies requiring the new center's services and going through the individual consultancy stages will receive quick access to additional aid programs by government agencies, such as the Israel Innovation Authority and the Israel Investment Center. In cases in which a company wants to develop a clean manufacturing technology and is looking for appropriate grants, the Innovation Authority will tailor a basket of relevant tools for the company. If a company wants to buy new production technologies to streamline its internal processes and lighten its environmental footprint, the company will be entitled to grants from the Investment Authority.
"The founding of the new center proves that it is possible to promote the environment and economic development simultaneously, and such a measure will benefit all of the parties involved in it," senior Ministry of the Environment deputy director for industry Shuli Nezer said.
Three months ago, the Ministry of Economy and Industry selected a group composed of ORT Braude College, international management consulting firm Tefen, and ESI to lead a program for founding an institute for advanced production in the north, and budgeted NIS 35 million for the purpose. The role of the institute, which will open soon, is to be the state's executive arm in designing and installing advanced production elements for conventional industries in order to raise productivity and improve their competitiveness.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 9, 2019
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