Meeting Looks at Environmentally Sound Management of Waste

Brussels, Belgium - The second meeting of the OECD Working Group on Waste Prevention and Recycling (WGWPR) took place in Washington, D.C., in March, where the Business and Industry Advisory Council (BIAC) delegation was headed by its recently-appointed chairman Ross Bartley, BIR's Environmental & Technical Director.

The Working Group addresses two significant policy areas: Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which recall recent EPR programs on end-of-life automobiles and electrical/electronic waste. Also featured in the work program are: facilitation of closed-loop recycling and product take-back programs; the need to understand markets for secondary materials; and indicators to measure performance.

The second WGWPR meeting was preceded by the third OECD workshop on Environmentally Sound Management of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations (ESM). This emphasized the use of a set of 'Core Performance Elements' which are still being elaborated, as well as the use of existing environmental management systems such as ISO 14001. The workshop produced an acknowledgment of the need to assist small and medium sized enterprises in implementing such systems. A specific guideline document on ESM for personal computers is very near completion.

In effect, companies that treat, re-use, recover and recycle wastes will be encouraged to attain those Core Performance Elements within their competence as well as ISO 14001 accreditation or parts of it. While much of this work stems from government decisions made over a decade ago, the detailed route now being planned demonstrates how governments have come to recognize the difficulties faced by small and micro enterprises, as well as the need for many voluntary elements within the ESM system so that it can be tailored to fit the wide range of companies in the sector.

Previously, the OECD Working Group on Waste Management Policy (WGWMP) had completed its consolidation work to replace the familiar 'Green, Amber and Red lists' of the OECD with its new Council Decision C(2001)107. The new group WGWPR, whose name reflects a shift in emphasis from 'waste management policy' to 'waste prevention and recycling', has taken over the remaining files relating to these consolidation efforts.