Green customs workshop to check environmental crime begins

As a complete ban on the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) comes into force on January 1, 2010 the representatives from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), India and Nepal began to thrash out issues concerning illegal trade of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and other environmental crime at a three-day workshop commencing here today.

The workshop proposes to educate the officers of customs and security officers deployed on the borders about the sensitivity of the environmental crime and ensure better coordination among the enforcement agencies to check their movement, said Atul Bagai, Head Asia Pacific, OzonAction Programme, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) under the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP).

According to sources about 20000 tonnes of chlorofluorocarbons worth 150 to 300 million US dollars are being illegally traded per annum globally. At the same time the volumes of illegal trade in hazardous waste and wildlife crime is also going unchecked in the range of 10 to 20 billon US dollars each annually.

Speaking on the occasion Ms Yvonne Ewang-Sanvincenti, Basel Convention Secretariat, Geneva, said about 20 to 30 billion dollars were being earned annually by dumping hazardous waste. “This is a big business,” she said. “Illegal trade in environmentally sensitive items such as ODS, harmful chemicals, hazardous wastes and endangered species is becoming increasingly lucrative,” said Bagai.

Dr Sita Ram Joshi the Director General of Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology, Nepal said the ODS contributed to about 17 percent of the global warming. So there was an immediate need to deal with the issue and the best solution was to turn to natural refrigerants like carbon dioxide, ammonia and water.

Significantly no major cases of ODS trade have been reported in the recent past on the Indo-Nepal border in the state. The sensitization of the officials would not only help in checking illegal movement of the ODS but also in checking other environmental crime including the wildlife crime on the Indo-Nepal borders, said Bagai.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen the collaboration between these neighbouring countries to monitor ODS trade and curb illegal movement of such commodities,” said Bagai.

Scale of environment crime


20 to 30 billion dollars annually from hazardous waste dumping, smuggling proscribed hazardous chemicals and exploiting and trafficking protected natural resources.


20,000 tonnes per year, worth US dollars 150 to 300 million. (Equivalent to over 12 percent of over 12 percent of global (ODS) production (1990s).

10 to 20 percent of legitimate trade in ODS (equivalent to 7000 to 14000 tonnes per year with a value of US dollars 25 to 60 million (2000s)

Hazardous waste

US government estimated that US dollars 10 to 20 billion was earned from smuggling of waste.

There are at least 8.5 million tones of hazardous waste being moved between countries each year.


Estimated 5 to 20 billion US dollars per annum.


5 to 10 percent may be illegal.