WCO and UNODC launch new Project to enhance capacity for detecting illegal shipments of plastic and hazardous waste

12 July 2021

The WCO and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have launched a new Project to improve the capacity of enforcement agencies to counter illegal shipments of plastic and hazardous waste in the cargo trade supply chain. The Project is part of the Container Control Programme (CCP), under which the two Organizations have established and provided training to dedicated Port Control Units (PCUs) and Air Cargo Control Units (ACCUs) at key seaports and airports.

PCUs and ACCUs are “joint units” bringing together Customs officers and other national law enforcement personnel from the Police, Drug Enforcement Agency, Environmental Agency, Air Security Agency, etc. In recent years, PCUs around the world have reported many plastic and hazardous waste seizures. In 2020, they intercepted more than 630 metric tons of waste. The new Project, known as the “CCP Project on Countering Illegal Hazardous Waste Trafficking” and enjoying financial support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), will address existing gaps in the effective enforcement of regulations on the movement of waste.

The Project was launched on 15 June 2021 with a kick-off meeting involving representatives from several international organizations. It gave participants an opportunity to learn about the findings of technical assessments undertaken by the CCP team jointly with the authorities in Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and to discuss cooperation at the national, regional and international levels.

Mr. Stig Traavik, Director of the Department for Climate, Energy and Environment at Norad, opened the meeting and declared that “by stopping shipments of hazardous waste, we can prevent hazardous materials ending up in places where they contaminate the environment and pose health risks to people. The CCP Project is a very important and timely initiative and Norad is proud to support it, as part of the Norwegian Development Program to Combat Marine Litter and Microplastics.”

Besides providing technical assistance on illicit trade and border security in broader terms, CCP experts aim to encourage cooperation emphasizing both the human and environmental aspects of the illegal trade in plastic and hazardous waste as well its impact on national revenue and legal trade.

The CCP initiative complements efforts developed as part of the Asia-Pacific Plastic Waste Project (APPW), aimed at strengthening the capacity of Customs administrations to mitigate and appropriately respond to environmental threats in the Asia-Pacific region.