Operation discovers more than 1m tonnes of illegal waste

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A worldwide operation coordinated by INTERPOL and targeting the illegal shipment and disposal of waste has discovered around 1.5 million tonnes of illegal waste across the globe.

The 30-day global enforcement action throughout June was the biggest against waste crime and trafficking; with agencies, customs and police from over 40 nations taking part.

Although previous operations have targeted electronic waste, this action widened its scope to target all forms of illegal waste; such as industrial, construction, household and medical waste.

In 2010, 12.7m tonnes of the 275m tonnes of plastic waste generated were dumped illegally into the sea, while as little as 10-40% of the 42m tonnes of electronic waste generated worldwide was dealt with using the proper channels in 2014. Hazardous waste contaminates water, soil and air when improperly disposed.

Overall, 226 waste crimes were reported, as well as 413 administrative violations - with most of the illegal waste discovered during the action being metal or electronic waste related to the car industry.

Of the criminal cases, 141 were shipments carrying 14,000 tonnes of illegal waste, while there were 85 sites where in excess of 1 million tonnes of illegal waste was illegally dumped. In total, 326 individuals and 244 firms were said to be involved in criminal or administrative violations.

Asia and Africa were found to be the main destinations for waste illegally exported from Europe and North America. Trafficking also occurred between nations in Europe.

Authorities in Holland found over 10 thousand tonnes of waste thought to be involved in illegal trafficking within Europe and from the Netherlands to West African, South and Southeast Asian and Caribbean countries.

The operation also led to the discovery of new transnational trafficking routes used by criminal networks, thanks to cooperation among import and export countries.