Photo: Hakli Kari


Finnish Customs has recently completed an investigation into a suspected environmental violation involving the international shipment of waste. The investigation revealed that a Finnish company transported five consignments of septic tank sludge from Finland to Sweden in the spring of 2022, without obtaining the necessary permit. A total of 66,200 kg of waste was exported without a permit for disposal in Sweden.

International shipments of waste are regulated by international conventions and agreements, as well as a European Parliament and Council regulation. The primary objective of these regulations is to protect the environment and ensure that waste is appropriately managed. In Finland, the control of international waste shipments is carried out by Finnish Customs in collaboration with the Finnish Environment Institute.

According to the investigation, the septic tank sludge was transported to an appropriate processing plant in Sweden, but the Finnish company should have applied for a waste shipment permit before the shipments were made. Exporting waste from the European Union (EU) for disposal in a non-EU or non-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) country is prohibited.

Illegal waste shipments are often carried out in an attempt to reduce costs, as disposing of waste lawfully can be expensive. Therefore, it is essential to obtain a waste shipment permit from both the waste recipient country and the Finnish Environment Institute, as well as any waste shipment authorities in transit countries.

Petteri Nevalainen, head of the Economic Crime Investigation Unit at Finnish Customs, stated that one of Customs' responsibilities is to control waste shipments between countries, and they will take action if permits are not in order. The investigation was conducted as a case of environmental violation rather than degradation of the environment.

The preliminary investigation is now complete, and the case will be forwarded to the Prosecution District of Southern Finland for consideration of charges. This case serves as a reminder of the importance of complying with waste shipment regulations to protect the environment and ensure appropriate waste management.