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Finnish Customs has investigated a suspected offence involving international shipment of waste

Publication date 15.5.2023 11.30
Press release

Finnish Customs has investigated a case of environmental violation where a company is suspected of having transported waste from Finland to Sweden without the required permit. Controls of international waste shipments aim to ensure that the shipments do not pose a risk to the environment or to humans, and that the waste ends up being appropriately managed. In Finland, international shipments of waste are controlled by Finnish Customs in cooperation with the Finnish Environment Institute.

Customs’ criminal investigation has shown that, in spring 2022, a company based in Finland has transported five consignments of septic tank sludge from Finland to Sweden. A total of 66 200 kg of waste was exported without a permit. The septic tank sludge was transported for disposal in Sweden, but the Finnish company should have applied for a waste shipment permit for the shipments.

The investigation has shown that the septic tank sludge was taken to the appropriate processing plant in Sweden, and thus the criminal act has been investigated as an environmental violation, not as degradation of the environment.

“One of Customs’ tasks is to control shipments of waste between countries and we will intervene if the permits are not in order. It costs money to dispose of waste in a lawful manner, and the aim of illegal waste shipments is often to reduce costs,” says Petteri Nevalainen, head of the Economic Crime Investigation Unit.

Exports of waste for disposal always require obtaining a waste shipment permit from both the Finnish Environment Institute and the waste recipient country and any waste shipment authorities in transit countries. Exporting waste from the EU for disposal in a non-EU or non-EFTA country is prohibited.

Waste shipments are regulated through international conventions and agreements and a European Parliament and Council regulation. Customs cooperates with the Finnish Environment Institute to carry out controls on international shipments of waste and to supervise compliance with the provisions in Finland. The main and most important aim of the Waste Shipment Regulation is to protect the environment.

Customs has investigated the matter as a case of environmental violation. The preliminary investigation is about to be completed and the case will be forwarded to the Prosecution District of Southern Finland for consideration of charges.

Media release