The LIFE SMART Waste project (LIFE13-ENV/UK/000549) is an innovative partnership between key European bodies addressing waste crime. The project commenced in June 2014 and will run until May 2020.
Waste streams that are of low quality and value, or are difficult to treat, persistently attract criminal activities that profit at the expense of the environment and legitimate operators in Europe’s waste industry. These illegal practises are ever-changing and are not easily visible.
For environmental and partner bodies, there are big gaps in understanding how such illegal markets behave and how to tackle criminal behaviour. This poses major challenges, but also opportunities for innovation.
The overarching goal of the LIFE SMART Waste project is to demonstrate innovative ways of understanding, tackling and reducing waste-related crime. The project will develop, test and apply new and modern ways of working, and demonstrate direct interventions to assess and target illegality in waste streams.
Collaboration is key to the project's innovative approach. The project envisages environmental bodies working together to: set intelligence and investigatory objectives using common tools for shared areas of concern; identify vulnerabilities; and tackle illegality. Collaborations are likely to involve non-environmental bodies - such as the police, customs or financial authorities - for certain interventions.
Specific objectives are:
- To develop and demonstrate innovative intelligence gathering and analytical approaches to identify and understand waste crime issues associated with ‘challenging’ waste streams, problem waste operators and illegal waste activities;
- To design innovative intelligence-led interventions, and demonstrate how these can be used to tackle waste crime issues and reduce their impacts in targeted areas;
- To communicate the project results and learning to others, selling the benefits of the approach in tackling waste crime, and to influence European policy and legislative changes.
- New practices and technologies tested and available for use by interested enforcement agencies in Europe, with six or more environment or enforcement agencies (not participating in the project) adopting a product in their environmental crime work
- An online communications platform available for use by interested enforcement agencies with three or more agencies (not participating in the project) using the 'Hub' beyond the life of the project
- Coalitions, resource and information sharing between regulatory or enforcement bodies, with at least four agency partnerships sustained or created after the project is finished.
- Reports to relevant EU bodies recommending policy or legislative interventions to disrupt or mitigate illegal behaviours in certain waste markets, with one short-term and one longer-term policy or legislative change recommendation adopted, and one domestic policy change intervention adopted in a Member State
- Case studies detailing the application of smart, intelligence-led regulation and its benefits, including awareness-raising activities
- Training packages and courses for enforcement organisations involved with the environment and/or waste management markets, with six agencies (not participating in the project) adopting intelligence-led and/or novel tools
- Illegal waste practice interventions applied within Member States to disrupt or mitigate illegal behaviours, with at least three illegal operations detected and disrupted during the lifetime of the project and a minimum of €0.5 million saved by stopping criminal activity.
The LIFE SMART Waste project is structured to meet the contractual requirements of the LIFE Grant Agreement and the LIFE Common Provisions 2013. The LIFE actions have been separated into seven work streams as follows:
- Intelligence Communications Hub (Actions B1, B2 & B9)
- Tools, Approaches & Techniques (Actions B3-B8)
- Investigations & Intelligence (Actions B10-B11)
- Interventions (Actions B12-B16)
- Project Impact Monitoring (Actions C1-C3)
- Communication and dissemination actions (Actions D1-D9)
- Project Management (Actions E1-E3)
A ‘Progress on technical actions’ report (inclusive of references to the project’s publications) was published in May 2019 and the following video provides a high-level overview of its contents:
A brief update for each of the project's LIFE actions is also available in a quarterly progress-to-date report.
The LIFE SMART Waste project is led by SEPA working in partnership with three partner agencies who will also contribute resources:
- ACR+ (Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and sustainable Resource management), Belgium
- Brussels Environment, Belgium
- Natural Resources Wales, United Kingdom
Adopting a collaborative approach, we will encourage environmental bodies to set intelligence and investigatory objectives using common tools around shared areas of concern, before collectively identifying and tackling illegality. For certain interventions, collaborations are likely to involve non-environmental bodies, such as the police, customs or financial authorities.
Guidance, information and support for the LIFE SMART Waste project is also being provided by a number of organisations and experts through a wider External Steering Group.
External Steering Group
A number of organisations and experts have agreed to be part of a wider External Steering Group to provide expert guidance, information and support for the LIFE SMART Waste project:
The organisations represented in the External Steering Group include:
External Steering Group Members
|Chartered Institution of Wastes Management|
|Northern Ireland Environment Agency||
The External Steering Group is also working with a number of interested stakeholders, including representatives from:
The mission statement for the LIFE SMART Waste project's External Steering Group is:
- We will use our expertise and our desire for the project’s success, to steer it, so that it delivers innovation and useable products
- We will ensure the requirements of the project plan are met through collaborative input and productive partnerships
The key roles of the LIFE SMART Waste External Steering Group are to:
- Provide constructive steer and advice on the technical aspects of the LIFE SMART Waste project
- Bring technical innovation, expertise and information to the project
- Shape, challenge and review project products – providing assurance on their quality
- Establish themed sub groups and workshops as required
- Actively promote the project and contribute to project engagement activities
- Advise on opportunities for collaborative working through internal/external networks
- Ensure alignment between the LIFE SMART Waste project and complementary work being undertaken by partners alongside the project
- Uptake project outputs to demonstrate and promote the benefits
The External Steering Group will:
- Be innovative through supporting the aims and objectives of the project and being open minded
- Be positive through championing the project themes and motivating partners and supporting organisations
- Respect our partners and supporting organisations by actively listening to their views and welcoming their inputs
- Be planned, briefed and prepared for project discussions, meetings and events
- Constructively challenge the project direction and ideas ensuring that we maintain credibility across our project partners and supporting organisations
- Use our wider networks to engage and add value to project actions and deliverables
- Support the project board and teams. Ensuring we respect the project governance and specified roles of project leads and beneficiaries
The LIFE SMART Waste project has received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union.