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LIFE SMART Waste project final conference

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LIFE SMART Waste and INTERPOL's Pollution Crime Working Group (PCWG) hosted the ‘Smarter waste regulation and pollution crime enforcement’ conference at the BEL Convention Centre in Brussels, Belgium from 12-14 November 2019.

The conference brought together representatives from over 100 organisations and agencies with responsibility for environmental regulation, law enforcement, waste policy, legislation, waste management at regional, national and international levels. This gathering created opportunities for knowledge exchange, networking and collaboration on a truly global basis.

Delegates heard from a range of prominent keynote speakers, considered the results and recommendations of the LIFE SMART Waste project and participated in discussions and a range of thematic workshops. Conference topics included key current trends in waste crime, innovations to tackle waste crime, strategic and operational approaches and policy developments (including the latest thinking from the European Commission).

Videos of presentations (11)

The LIFE SMART Waste project presentations and Question & Answer sessions were recorded for the benefit of stakeholders unable to attend the conference in Brussels. To watch these videos (11 in total), click on playlist link below.

Please note that not all of the conference presentations were recorded due to the sensitive nature of some of the INTERPOL Environmental Security Sub-Directorate (ENS) and PCWG topics. Similarly, not all of the slides used by speakers conference presentations are available.

Conference information

Further information about the presentations and speakers is available in the sections below. This includes a selection of the supporting slides used during presentations by both LIFE SMART Waste and (select) INTERPOL PCWG speakers.

The LIFE SMART Waste project hosted the conference in collaboration with INTERPOL's Pollution Crime Working Group.

To deliver this unique event, the LIFE SMART Waste project's final conference was integrated with the first two days of the 24th Meeting of the INTERPOL PCWG, the annual global gathering of the PCWG network. These INTERPOL PCWG annual meetings aim at discussing new and growing concerns relating to pollution crime and to develop action plans going forward. They also allow INTERPOL, and all participants, to share current projects and enforcement activities, and to advance regional and international cooperation in the field of pollution crime enforcement.

LIFE SMART Waste project

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LIFE SMART Waste is a multi-agency project co-funded by the EU LIFE programme. It aims to develop and demonstrate innovative ways of understanding, tackling and reducing waste-related crime. The project is led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency working in partnership with three co-beneficiaries: Natural Resources Wales; ACR+; and Brussels Environment.

The project was initiated during 2014 in acknowledgement that waste crime is a serious and persistent issue that threatens our ambitions of a circular economy in Europe. Waste criminals are elusive and persistently profit at the expense of our environment, economies and communities, and LIFE SMART Waste project beneficiaries recognised that there are significant gaps in our collective understanding of the causes, dynamics and triggers for criminal activity in challenging waste streams. The project’s premise is that closing these gaps offers opportunities to identify and develop practical indicators, deterrents and remedies for such criminal behaviour.

The LIFE SMART Waste project's final conference will bring together a broad spectrum of stakeholders to hear the key results and to consider the recommendations. In addition to providing stakeholders with opportunities for sharing experiences and expertise in discussions, there will be an opportunity for the European Commission and representatives from other European institutions to present the latest thinking on European policy related to waste implementation and consider how the project' s outcomes can feed into this debate.

INTERPOL Pollution Crime Working Group

INTERPOL logoThe Pollution Crime Working Group (PCWG), together with the Wildlife Crime Working Group (WCWG); the Fisheries (FCWG) and the more recently established Forestry Crime Working Group, support INTERPOL's Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee Advisory Board and are responsible for the operational and tactical responses within INTERPOL in relation to environmental crime.  These working groups focus specifically on how to tackle crime in these areas.

The PCWG global network meets annually to discuss new and growing global concerns relating to pollution crime, share best practice in dealing with existing and emerging pollution threats, plan joint operations and also to develop strategies going forward.

The objective of this year’s meeting is to, amongst others, consider key trends and emerging threats linked to pollution crime,  discuss challenges and opportunities in achieving effective enforcement against pollution crime, especially through international and multi-agency cooperation, and to identify opportunities and risks associated with information and intelligence sharing, data management and analysis.

In 2018 and 2019, INTERPOL ENS and the PCWG have been working hand-in-hand to address the Organized Crime-Pollution Crime nexus; the emerging waste crime trends resulting from China policy restrictions on waste import; and marine pollution crime via global INTERPOL-coordinated Operations (October 2018, October 2019), among others. Those issues will be part of the main topics for discussion during the 24th Meeting of the PCWG.

The objectives of the joint conference were to:

  1. Create opportunities for global knowledge exchange on waste-related crime
  2. Demonstrate and discuss LIFE SMART Waste project findings
  3. Discuss INTERPOL ENS and PCWG’s work addressing:
    • The Organized Crime-Pollution Crime nexus;
    • Emerging waste crime trends resulting from China policy restrictions on waste import;
    • Marine pollution crime via global INTERPOL-coordinated Operations

Participants at the joint conference included representatives from a wide range of agencies and organisations, including:

  • LSW D9 Audience_1000x677Environmental regulators;
  • Enforcement agencies (for example, operational managers from police, customs, coast guard, criminal investigation units, etc.);
  • Policymakers;
  • Legislators (prosecution and judicial authorities);
  • Forensic experts on pollution crime;
  • Key experts from relevant regional and international organisations;
  • Industry representatives.

Programme overview

LSW conference programme


To ensure that you receive updates, please subscribe to the LIFE SMART Waste project e-newsletter.

At the discretion of the individual speakers, slides used during conference presentations by both LIFE SMART Waste and INTERPOL PCWG speakers are available in PDF format by clicking the links below:

Please note that not all of the conference slides used by speakers during presentations are available due to the sensitive nature of some of the INTERPOL ENS and PCWG topics.

Further information about the conference presentations and speakers is available in the conference schedule.

For further LIFE SMART Waste project updates, please sign up for the LIFE SMART Waste project e-newsletter.

Location / Getting there / Accommodation

BEL Convention Centre

The LIFE SMART Waste project's final conference took place at the BEL Conference Centre, a venue within the eco-friendly premises of the Environment and Energy Agency of the Brussels-Capital Region (Bruxelles Environment).

Location / Getting there / Accommodation

BEL logistical noteFor details of the venue's address, how to get there and accommodation suggestions, please follow the link to the downloadable BEL Convention Centre logistical note.



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Online registration for the 'Smarter waste regulation and pollution crime enforcement' conference closed on 31 October 2019.

To find out more about the LIFE SMART Waste project, sign up for the project e-newsletter.

English was the working language of the Conference (no interpretation was provided).

Entry to the conference was free of charge.

LIFE SMART Waste provided registered Conference delegates with lunch and coffee breaks during Day 1 and Day 2 of the conference (12-13 November 2019).

All other travel and accommodation expenses were the responsibility of Conference delegates.

Conference schedule

For enquiries relating to the conference schedule:

Venue and related logistics

For enquiries relating to the conference venue and related logistics:

INTERPOL PCWG network only

For enquiries related to INTERPOL (Environmental Security Programme and/or Pollution Crime Working Group):

Please note, INTERPOL funding support relates to ODA countries only.