Over 17,500 shipments were checked by environmental authorities around Europe between March 2014 and November 2015, according to an Enforcement Actions project report released on October 3, 2016, by the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL).
IMPEL's ongoing Enforcement Actions projects bring together regulatory authorities from 31 European countries to combat illegal waste shipments. The checks carried out last year uncovered violations including illegal shipments of electronic items, waste vehicles and household waste, and incorrect documentation.
Project results indicate significant progress: participation by environmental authorities has increased, coupled with greater partnership across regional and national boundaries between police and customs authorities. The project has had a positive impact on the day-to-day inspection and enforcement work of the participating organisations. Checks are both more targeted and more efficient as a result of the project, and new participants are being trained and supported through officer exchange programmes.
According to the new report, the waste streams most commonly detected in relation to transportation violations were metals (19%), paper and cardboard (14%), plastics (13%), electrical and electronic equipment (12%) and end-of-life vehicles and car parts (11%). Most illegal shipments appear to take place within the EU, although China and Hong Kong are the most common destinations for shipments outside the EU.
The fact that not all EU member states participate and exchange information suggests that considerable efforts are still needed in order to move towards better enforcement and to close "escape routes" (e.g. by port hopping) from the Community.