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Letter Announcing NGO Boycott of OECD Workshop on Environmentally Sound Management of Waste Recycling


October 25, 1999

Ms. Julie Gourley
Environmental Protection Specialist
International and Special Projects Branch
Office of Solid Waste
Fax: 1.703.308.0514

Mr. Charles Cormier
Head, Controls and Compliance Section
Transboundary Movement Division, Operations Branch, Environment Canada
Fax: 1.819.997.3068

Mr. Henrik Harjula
Principal Administrator
Environment Directorate, OECD

Mr. Luis Wolf
Director of Hazardous Wastes
Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, Mexico


Dear Ms. Julie Gourley, Mr. Charles Cormier, Mr. Luis Wolf, and Mr. Henrik Harjula:

We in Greenpeace International, the Basel Action Network (BAN), the Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED) and the Clean Production Action (CPA) organizations wish to inform you that we have decided not to participate in the upcoming workshop on Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations to be held in Cancun, Mexico on October 28-29, 1999.

Our decision to boycott this meeting was taken after careful consideration of your response to the concerns we have raised regarding the agenda of the meeting and planning of the workshop.

We regret and condemn the OECD decision to discuss the development of standards for ESM of wastes destined for recovery operations out of the context of waste prevention and clean production, as well as, the historic Basel Ban decision. Obviously we do not oppose a discussion regarding the ESM of wastes – as long as the definition of ESM includes clean production and waste minimization as the overarching priority. The discussion must happen in the framework that wastes currently being managed by recycling could have been more appropriately avoided through product design and other waste minimization methods. Recycling must be considered within the context of the entire waste management hierarchy.

Further, it is very unlikely that a discussion that only focusses on technical aspects of ESM and does not take into account social, economic, infrastructural and governance issues when discussing ESM will ever assist any nation to solve its waste crisis.

The OECD funded a large number of non-OECD nations to attend this workshop. Thus the OECD clearly recognizes the global implications of this workshop or it would not have invited the non-OECD nations.

And it is over the global implications which we raise our most serious objections. We strongly object to the OECD plan to development of criteria for ESM of hazardous waste recycling when that body knows full well that it was precisely the development of such criteria which the Basel Parties pointedly agreed was NOT to be developed at this point in time (prior to the entry into force of the Basel Ban amendment). Such criteria was proposed and explicitly omitted from Basel Decision IV/8 at COP4 and likewise such criteria were again rejected by the Basel Technical Working Group from the terms of reference of the study on Annex VII that has been mandated by Decision IV/8. It can only be seen as an act of bad faith that the OECD has moved forward with a workshop to prepare such criteria which they know full well is a product which the Basel Convention Parties felt would endanger implementation of their decisions – and most importantly would endanger the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.

Finally, environmental NGOs were not granted an opportunity to help prepare the meeting, nor were our primary concerns noted above redressed when we commented on the prepared agenda. We were rather told that Basel was not to be discussed, that clean production and waste minimization were not part of the workshop and thus presumably not a part of ESM and finally our request to defer the politically damaging criteria for recycling ESM was ignored. For these reasons and after much deliberation we have decided to condemn the fatally flawed and bad faith exercise and refuse all active participation in it.

We ask that you please circulate this letter to all delegations of the workshop.

Sincerely yours,

Jim Puckett on behalf of,

Jim Puckett
Basel Action Network (BAN)
c/o Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange (APEX)
1827 39th Ave. E.
Seattle, WA. 98112 USA
tel/fax +1 206 720 6426

Marcelo Furtado
Greenpeace International Toxics Campaign
R. Pinheiros,240/32
05422-000 Sao Paulo SP Brasil

Beverley Thorpe
Clean Production Action (CPA)
5964 Avenue Notre Dame de Grace
Montreal, Qc
Canada H4A 1N1
tel +1 514 484 4207
fax +1 514 484 2696

Iza Kruszewska
ANPED (The Northern Alliance for Sustainability)
P.O. Box 12111
3501 AC UTRECHT, The Netherlands
Tel. +31 (0)30 2310300
Fax +31 (0)30 2340878

cc: Mr. Per Bakken, Acting Coordinator, Basel Convention Secretariat

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