Cracking down on illegal waste shipments through European partnerships


The team during Operation Midnight Sun II - Police, environmental officers and customs from Norway and Sweden

Europe generates large amounts of waste, from households and industry, including old electrical items, end-of-life vehicles and recyclates. And waste means money, either in terms of a resource to make other products, or as a commodity that needs to be transported and disposed of. Unfortunately when there’s money to made there are people who are looking to do things illegally, either to make more or save more, and that needs to be tackled.

Waste moves nationally and internationally for all manner of reasons, and of course not all of them legal, so in order to tackle it we need to work closely with colleagues in other countries.

One way SEPA is doing that is through the European network for Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) and in particular IMPEL’s transfrontier shipment of waste Enforcement Actions project, which SEPA has been co-ordinating since 2011. The project covers inspections and waste shipment enforcement activities and aims to provide a readily accessible enforcement platform for waste shipment inspectors.

The project is a great example of real partnership working that has brought together experts from 31 countries, all with different experiences and backgrounds. It has enabled co-ordinated inspections with neighbouring countries, provided guidance and training for new officers to get started in checking waste shipments and created a network of support for exchanging best practice and technical advice.

As well as sharing case studies and attending webinars many officers have taken part in exchanges, where colleagues from different countries visit each other to see how they operate. In 2014-2015 16 exchanges were carried out, involving 42 officers from 16 countries. Exchanges focussed on priority waste streams for the counties involved, typically Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), used tyres, end–of-life vehicles (ELVs), or targeting a particular transport route of mutual concern or importance.

There are more details in the IMPEL-TFS Enforcement Actions project 2014-2015 report.

As you already know, we have a lot of transboundary waste shipments in transit in Lower Bavaria. A lot of trucks from and to the Eastern European countries are crossing our border to Austria in Passau Suben.

The District Government of Lower Bavaria is therefore very interested to have good contacts to the European countries and others since for a transit region it is very important to receive the classification of waste shipments as legal/illegal by the countries of dispatch and destination asap.

Additionally as a competent authority of transit you should be very well informed how other countries assess the loadings: green/amber or not-listed waste.

For me the Basecamp is a very important source of information.

Again and again I receive requests of my colleagues of the German states asking me for the IMPEL contact person in a certain country because they get no answer from the offices whose addresses are listed in the list of competent authorities.

You might have noticed that the number of German colleagues who participate in Basecamp has significantly increased.

Also the officer exchanges are for us an excellent opportunity to exchange best practice with other countries and particularly from the exchange days in the Netherlands this year we had a great input (documentation, gas detection systems, risk analysis…).

We are always willing to host inspectors from abroad but at the same time we are very interested to participate at an IMPEL officer exchange project too.

The different IMPEL Guidances are very important tools for our daily work.


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