Illegal dumping and trade in toxic waste

Overview

The disposal of electronic, hazardous and other polluting waste is a global issue and one that is increasing with the population and ever-increasing demand for consumable goods. Whilst many countries may have introduced effective and appropriate measures for disposal of waste, the export of waste and transportation over long distances raises challenges to monitor that disposal.

Criminals exploit these challenges by dumping waste in countries where monitoring and/or enforcement is ineffective. The consequences include pollution to land as chemicals leach into soil and waterways, harm to people who come into contact with waste either deliberately or inadvertently, and damage to the atmosphere as a result of release of chemicals as waste degrades or is burnt.

This practice takes place from developed to developing countries since the former have the means and wealth to collect and export waste, while poorer countries may inadvertently allow dumping of waste and where poor legislation, investigatory powers and enforcement facilitate such exploitation.

It should be noted that practices such as the inappropriate disposal of hazardous waste are conducted primarily by unscrupulous companies rather that individuals or networks of criminals. It is important to recognize that difference is essential to ensuring relevant responses.