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Environmental crime is one of the world’s most profitable organised criminal activities and has a major impact not only on the environment but also on human health. It is highly lucrative but it is hard to detect, prosecute and punish it. These factors make it highly attractive for organised crime groups.
The EU has taken action to combat criminal networks involved in all forms of environmental crime, including by introducing rules on waste management, on trade in wildlife and plants, and on the protection of the environment through criminal law.
Law enforcement and customs authorities across all EU countries, EU institutions, agencies and bodies, as well as partner countries and organisations, work together to combat this form of crime through investigations, seizures and other police operations.
In this infographic you can find out what environmental crime is and the results of EU efforts against environmental crime under EMPACT, the EU’s flagship initiative in its fight against organised and serious international crime.
167 452 tonnes of waste – 15%-30% of waste shipments are thought to be illegal, amounting to € 9.5 billion in annual revenue from the illicit waste market in the EU.
1 174 tonnes of e-waste - 1 tonne of smartphones contains 100 times more gold than 1 tonne of gold ore. E-waste trafficked from Europe is recycled manually, releasing strong toxins.
32 007 m3 of timber - Illegal logging accounts for 15-30% of global timber trade. Timber is used for construction and wood products.
355 reptiles, worth € 800 000 – Thousands of reptile species worldwide are threatened by trafficking. They are mostly used in the fashion industry or as pets.
4.6 tonnes of glass eels - 350 million European glass eels, worth € 3 billion, are trafficked from the EU every year. They are mostly sold in Asia as food.
639 ivory items – Elephant poaching increases the risk of extinction. Ivory is mainly sourced from Africa and trafficked through Europe to Asia.
The total value of seizures is € 8.3 million.
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