Checks show half EU waste exports are illegal

The EU's Impel network of environmental inspectors stressed the need for more harmonised European enforcement of trade in waste after discovering that virtually half of all waste shipments travelling through European seaports are illegal.

Impel carried out a week of checks in October, inspecting documents and 258 ship cargo holds in 17 ports in nine EU countries. Of 140 waste shipments found, 48% breached EU rules. Many turned out to be hazardous wastes bound for developing countries, a practice banned under the UN Basel convention on hazardous waste trade.

Illegal waste shipments included Swedish cable waste bound for China and discarded refrigerator compressors containing chlorofluorocarbons bound for Pakistan. The inspectors also discovered Latvian copper waste being sent to Panama and 14 containers of British domestic waste bound for India. In France, 30 containers filled with a variety of wastes were discovered bound for Asian and African countries.

Impel unearthed a similar level of illegality in March. A previous inspection campaign, last year, found only 20% of shipments to be illegal. The latest campaign once more exposes "large disparities" in how different EU states enforce waste trade rules, it complained.
Republished with permission of Environment daily



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