The World Customs Organization (WCO) publiushed the results of its latest global operation to tackle trafficking in waste. Operation DEMETER VIII, which took place from 1 to 31 October 2022, gave Customs administrations and their partners an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to playing their part in the fight against climate change.
The DEMETER Operations, the first edition of which dates back to 2009, are aimed at intercepting illegal shipments of hazardous waste, especially plastic waste, as well as ozone depleting substances (ODS) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that contribute to global warming and environmental degradation.
By using risk indicators and focusing on pre-identified routings and hotspots during Operation DEMETER VIII, Customs officers conducted controls on suspicious shipments and seized illegal waste as well as ODS and other harmful gases. The preliminary results show that 139 seizures were made during the Operation, including the following:
- 3,647 tonnes of waste and an additional 8,662 pieces of waste (unweighted)
- 25 tonnes of substances controlled by the Montreal Protocol
“There is no doubt that Customs plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change and the success of operations such as DEMETER clearly demonstrates that cooperation is critical in this domain,” said the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya.
“The WCO remains committed to supporting its Members in implementing MEAs, and regularly updates its relevant instruments so that Customs officers are appropriately equipped to perform their duties. The importance for Customs of using the latest edition of the Harmonized System (HS) should not be underestimated,” he added.
Operation DEMETER VIII, the largest in the series with 90 participating Customs administrations, was led by the WCO Secretariat, the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia/Pacific (RILO A/P) and China Customs, with the assistance of an Operational Coordination Unit based at the RILO A/P in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Collaboration with IMPEL LIFE SWEAP
The Operation was supported the members of the IMPEL LIFE SWEAP Project. Some of the environmental authorities participating in SWEAP, took part in the operation by joining Customs officers during their controls. LIFE SWEAP also delivered parts of the briefing and training meetings to participants in the Demeter Operation VIII. Other partners concerned the Basel Convention Secretariat, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) OzonAction, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the WCO-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Container Control Programme, INTERPOL, Europol and the WCO RILO network.
The WCO and its partners will continue to intensify their efforts to address environmental risks, with more enforcement initiatives planned for the future.
*Cover photo: Lao Customs intercepted a shipment of 31,000 kg of E-waste declared as plastic waste imported for recycling (photo credit: Lao Customs / WCO)