Skip to main content

IMPEL targets waste crime


24 May 2019

During 2019, IMPEL (the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law) is involved with three exciting projects related to tackling waste crime:

  1. The LIFE SWEAP project
  2. The WasteForce project
  3. The SPIDER WEB project


IMPEL, based in Brussels, is an international non-profit association of the environmental authorities of the European Union Member States, acceding and candidate countries of the EU, EEA and EFTA countries. IMPEL’s objective is to make progress on ensuring a more effective application of environmental legislation.

IMPEL Project Manager Nancy Isarin explains: “The core of IMPEL’s activities take place within a project structure and concern awareness raising, capacity building, peer review, exchange of information and experiences on implementation, and international enforcement collaboration. IMPEL organises its work into five thematic areas: Industry regulation, Waste and TFS, Water and land, Nature protection, and Cross-cutting tools and approaches.”

The LIFE SWEAP project

The overall purpose of the project is to support the circular economy by disrupting the illegal waste trade at the EU level. LIFE SWEAP Project Manager Katie Olley: “By providing innovative training, tools and intelligence to inspectors and law enforcement agencies and by increasing international cooperation and joint enforcement operations, this project aims to disrupt and prevent illegal waste shipments.”

The European Union set up rules for waste management and targets for recovery of waste materials to minimize the risks associated with managing waste. European Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on shipments of waste (WSR) contains several measures to prevent the illegal shipment of waste. These include obligations on Member States (MS) to carry out waste shipment inspections and to cooperate with other MS. The ‘Enforcement Actions’ projects have been the cornerstone of IMPEL’s waste shipment enforcement activities for several years, providing ‘on the ground training’ and ensuring a minimum level of inspections in participating countries. It has encouraged co-operation both between neighboring countries and within jurisdictions – between competent authorities and other enforcement bodies such as the Police and Customs.

The Shipment of Waste Enforcement Actions Project (SWEAP) project is co-funded by the European Commission LIFE fund and co-ordinated by IMPEL. The project runs between September 2018 to June 2023. In order to contribute to the circular economy package, waste management principles and targets and disrupt, detect and prevent illegal waste trafficking, this project aims to expand the members taking part in and benefiting from the project, increase the capacity of the various actors in the enforcement chain, intensify the collaboration, inspections and enforcement actions, develop and demonstrate innovative tools and technology and establish a EU wide dataset based on inspection data and used for the development of intelligence products.

Project webpage:

The WasteForce project

WasteForce is the project acronym for Deterring and disrupting illegal trade and management of Waste by developing Tools for Enforcement, Forensics and Capacity Building. WasteForce wil run for two years, terminating end of 2020. The coordinating party is IMPEL, co-led by the United Nations University. WasteForce delivers innovative ways to tackle illegal waste management and shipments.

Illegal management and trade of waste causes significant damage to the environment, undermines the health of millions of people, and distorts fair competition. It can result in loss of income to authorities, while providing significant financial gain for those illicitly involved. Despite strong efforts to better detect and investigate waste crimes, it remains quite challenging to carry out proper investigations and prosecutions. There is a need for more harmonised prosecutions strategies, increased national capacities, and enhanced international operational collaboration.

IMPEL Project Manager Nancy Isarin: “IMPEL has been successfully running EU-coordinated enforcement actions and capacity building in the field of illegal waste shipments for many years. However, the results of the enforcement actions still show significant gaps in compliance with waste management and waste shipments regulations, and a lack of consequent prosecutions. The ‘IMPEL-community’ of environmental inspectors, customs and police officers will directly benefit from new products and multi-disciplinary training proposed by the project.”

The WasteForce project aims to boost the operational activities and capacities of authorities involved in the fight against illegal trade and management of waste through the development of new practical tools and methodologies; the implementation of multi-stakeholder capacity building activities; and the support of operational networking among practitioners in Europe and with their counterparts in the Asia- Pacific region, one of the main regions of destination of illicit waste shipments.

The project will also seek to enhance international operational networking between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region through information-sharing activities and dedicated training materials. The direct beneficiaries of the project are the authorities involved in waste-related crimes across the enforcement chain, including environmental inspectorates, law enforcement agencies, customs, police and prosecutors both in Europe and in Asia-Pacific region.

Project webpage:

The SPIDER WEB project

By providing tailored training and knowledge to the regions’ enforcement chain in 2019, the SPIDER WEB project aims to increase the disruption of environmental crime in the Western Balkans.SPIDER WEB is jointly financed by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany on the basis of a grant agreement with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GmbH). IMPEL is responsible for the overall coordination. The project runs from mid 2018 to the end of 2020.

The general objective of SPIDER WEB is to increase the awareness and the skillset of all actors in the environmental law enforcement chain to successfully disrupt and prosecute illegal behaviour and limit the negative impact on human health and environment of this behaviour. SPIDER WEB stands for Strategic Project to Increase the Detection and Disruption of Environmental Crime in the Western Balkans.

Fighting serious and organized crime (SOC), including fighting environmental offenses regulated in EU and international legislation and agreements like the killing, destruction, possession or trade of specimens of protected wild fauna (particularly birds) or flora species, illegal logging / timber regulation or the improper collection, transport, recovery or disposal of (hazardous) waste, are key challenges not only, but particularly, in South East Europe (SEE) due to weak environmental awareness, data situation and financial and human resources. IMPEL Project Manager Nancy Isarin: “Today, these offences are still not considered a high enough priority, whilst their impact on human health, ecosystems and the environment is significant.”

Awareness raising, targeted capacity building measures about environmental crimes and collaboration are required to support the various actors in the compliance chain in South East Europe to raise the profile and priority level of environmental crime in the region. The geographical scope of work will initially focus on the 6 target countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Republic of North Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, and Serbia.

Project webpage:

Contact IMPEL

For further information, contact Nancy Isarin (IMPEL Project Manager)


Back to News and events