Regulatory authorities from 30 European countries have joined forces to combat illegal waste shipments. Over 22,000 shipments were checked during 2012 and 2013 by environmental authorities around Europe as part of the IMPEL network’s Enforcement Actions Project. The violations detected varied from administrative infringements to illegal shipments of electronic items and household waste.
The Enforcement Actions III project was carried out between March 2012 and November 2013 to promote and improve inspections of trans-frontier shipments of waste. The project report was released today.
Trans-frontier shipments of waste are regulated by a number of international agreements in order to prevent shipments of harmful waste to countries that do not have the technology for environmentally sound treatment. In the EU the European Waste Shipment Regulation obliges member states to carry out inspections and work together to prevent and detect illegal shipments.
Europe’s environmental regulators are getting better year-on-year at detecting illegal shipments. During the Enforcement Actions II Project, inspectors discovered that 21% of waste shipments were a violation of the European Waste Shipment Regulation. By Year 2 of the Enforcement Actions III Project, inspectors found 35% to be in violation. A range of inspections methods was used, including random and intelligence-led inspections on roads, in seaports and waste sites.
The waste streams most commonly detected in transport violations were ‘mixed municipal waste’ and ‘dry recyclable’ wastes. For company inspections, waste electricals accounted for 36% of the total violations. Most illegal shipments appear to be intra-EU movements. However shipments to China and Hong Kong are the most common non-OECD destination. The level of co-operation with other authorities (e.g. police and customs) remains high. This may be one of the key factors driving up waste inspection detection levels and violation rates.
The results of the Project show that significant progress has been made by environmental regulators. The project is clearly having a positive impact on the daily inspection and enforcement work of participating countries. This has been achieved through a high level of active participation from most countries in Europe, co-ordination of enforcement action, successful officer exchange programmes and the dissemination of good practice.
IMPEL Vice Chair, Chris Dijkens, said “I’m extremely pleased with IMPEL’s Enforcement Actions III Project results and the co-ordinated activities we’re pursuing that are showing concrete results. I’m looking forward to us building on this positive work, and hope that it will encourage those competent authorities who are yet to participate to be involved in our work to combat illegal shipments of waste.”
The fact that not all EU Member States participate nor exchange information and the high violation rate, however, also show that considerable effort is still needed to move towards a better enforcement to close ‘escape routes’ (e.g. by port-hopping) from the Community. Physical controls could be expanded to more borders and harbours, and regional cooperation could be strengthened further. IMPEL will be continuing this work in a follow up project to assist European countries in tackling illegal waste shipments.
- Enforcement Actions III project management: Katie.Olley@sepa.org.uk
- IMPEL secretariat: Nancy.Isarin@impel.eu