Israel is hosting the 2nd OECD Workshop on Sustainable Materials Management in Tel Aviv, which will be followed by the 11th Meeting of the OECD Working Group on Waste Prevention and Recycling.

Israel is hosting the 2nd OECD Workshop on Sustainable Materials Management in Tel Aviv on April 7-9, 2008, followed by the 11th Meeting of the OECD Working Group on Waste Prevention and Recycling on April 10 – 11, 2008. The meetings, which are taking place in the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv, provide Israel with an opportunity to showcase its environmental activities in these fields, while learning from the experience of others.

The workshop constitutes the first time that Israel, currently an active non-member of the organization, is hosting a professional workshop of the OECD. At present, Israel takes part in more than 50 committees and subsidiary bodies of the OECD as a full participant, regular observer or ad hoc observer. On May 16, 2007, the Council of Ministers of the OECD decided to invite Israel, along with four other states, to engage in discussions for membership in the organization.

The workshop and meeting of the OECD Environment Policy Committee’s Working Group on Waste Prevention and Recycling, in which Israel participates as an observer, are accompanied by technical visits and tours. According to Ms. Ori Livne, Director of the International Relations Division of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the meetings are especially important in light of the fact that the Environment Policy Committee is one of the committees which is examining Israel’s compliance with the environmental requirements of the OECD within the framework of the accession process.

Workshop on Sustainable Materials Management
The OECD Working Group on Waste Prevention and Recycling (WGWPR) has been developing and promoting international policies aimed at minimizing waste generation and managing the residues in an environmentally sound manner for some 25 years. Recently, recognition of the fact that life-cycle thinking is necessary to reduce the negative environmental impacts of materials in a cost-effective manner, led to the introduction of a new work area on Sustainable Material Management (SMM), with an emphasis on integrated material and waste policies which address environmental impacts over the whole life-cycle of materials.

A first workshop on the subject took place in 2005 at which time the following definition of Sustainable Materials Management was formulated: "Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) is an approach to promote sustainable materials use, integrating actions targeted at reducing negative environmental impacts and preserving natural capital throughout the life-cycle of materials, taking into account economic efficiency and social equity."

The second workshop, which opened on April 7, 2008 with welcoming addresses by Mr. Gideon Ezra, Israel Minister of Environmental Protection and Mr. Tom Jones, Head of National Policies Division, Environment Directorate, includes three sessions:

Taking stock of major current initiatives related to SMM within the public sector, private sector and international organizations;
Methodologies to identify and assess environmental impacts of materials use;
Where do we go from here on SMM?
The two main objectives of this second workshop are to present the results of the work carried out in 2006 – 2007 and to learn from the private sector’s and NGOs’ SMM experiences.

Case studies presented during the workshop on SMM activities in the private sector include the following:

Case study on treatment of electronic waste by Philips Lighting
Case study on sustainable management in the food industry by Unilever
Case study on energy savings in the cement industry by Hormigones Uniland
 Israeli case studies include:

Aviation industry case study by Israel Aerospace Industries.
Sustainable management in constructing a new industrial plant by Tnuva.
Minimization of wastes and energy savings through changes in the production processes of phosphate by Rotem Amfert Negev Ltd.
Prevention of greenhouse gas emissions and processing of waste as raw material for the cement industry by Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises.
Workshop Participants
Some 55 representatives of member states of the OECD (USA, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Slovak Republic, Spain, Czech Republic, Finland, Korea, Canada, Switzerland and Sweden), the European Union, consultants and experts on sustainable materials management, private companies and representatives of other countries and international organizations including the United Nations, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), international green organizations such as Friends of the Earth, representatives of global companies from South Africa and Brazil, as well as 30 Israeli participants are taking part in the workshop. In all, the workshop includes some 85 participants from Israel and abroad.

Integrated Solid Waste Management in Israel
On November 30, 2007, the OECD approved the roadmap for Israel’s accession to the OECD Convention, thus marking the formal launch of the membership process. Mr. Ilan Nissim, Director of the Solid Waste Management Division of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, who has represented Israel in an observer status in the Working Group on Waste Prevention and Recycling for the past three years, says that hosting the members of the group in Israel is an opportunity to present Israel’s solid waste management policy and the notable progress which has taken place in this area over the past decade.

To demonstrate some of these achievements in practice, the workshop was preceded by visits to the Hiriya transfer station and recycling site, where participants got a first hand look at innovative recycling and recovery installations and landfill rehabilitation activities, and to the Intel facility in Kiryat Gat where they were presented with the company’s environmental management systems.

The tours helped to highlight some of Israel’s major achievements since the 1990s, when waste was often illegally discarded in hundreds of dumps throughout the country, to the construction of state-of-the-art landfills, the growth in recycling to more than 20% in 2007 and the technological and legislative developments which have taken place in recent years, accompanied by a dramatic increase in awareness.

Representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection especially noted two major developments in 2007 -namely, imposition of a landfill levy and enactment of the Tire Disposal and Recycling Law, both of which came into effect in July 2007. These two legislative developments should bring about major progress in the waste market in Israel, significantly increasing recycling and recovery and promoting reduction at source and sustainable materials management. The presentation of these and other developments in the workshop should help promote the process of demonstrating Israel’s compliance with OECD’s instruments as the country makes its way along the roadmap to accession.