Transfrontier Shipment of Waste (TFS)



The TFS cluster was set up in 1992 as an informal network in order to harmonize the enforcement European regulations on transfrontier shipments of waste.


The scope of the cluster is on the practical implementation and enforcement of international  and European Waste Shipment Rules. This is done by awareness raising, capacity building, facilitating inter-agency and cross-border collaboration and operational enforcement activities. Members of the cluster represent environmental authorities, but also customs and police services and other authorities that play a role in the enforcement of the transfrontier waste shipments.


The TFS mission statement is as follows:

“To ensure that all those involved in the international trade in waste are aware of and comply with their international obligations under international law. IMPEL TFS will maximize this by employing the combined resources of the Waste Shipment Regulation Competent authorities to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of regulation and enforcement to protect the environment.”

The aim of the network is to:

  • promote compliance with the European Waste Shipment Regulation Nº 1013/2006 through enforcement;
  • carry out joint enforcement projects;
  • promote exchange of knowledge, best practices and experience with the enforcement of the Regulation 1013/2006;
  • stimulate a uniform enforcement of the EU Regulation 1013/2006.

This is done by three strategic aims: (1) awareness raising, (2) capacity building and (3) improved cooperation. More information on the strategy and the activities of the cluster are described in the Multi Annual Work Programme 2011-2015.


You can find information on the legislation covering the transfrontier shipment of waste, on the following sites:

We would, in particular, draw attention to the requirements in Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste, under article 50 concerning enforcement:

Enforcement in Member States:

  1. Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable for infringement of the provisions of this Regulation and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Member States shall notify the Commission of their national legislation relating to prevention and detection of illegal shipments and penalties for such shipments.
  2. Member States shall, by way of measures for the enforcement of this Regulation, provide, inter alia, for inspections of establishments and undertakings in accordance with Article 13 of Directive 2006/12/EC, and for spot checks on shipments of waste or on the related recovery or disposal.
  3. Checks on shipments may take place in particular:
    (a) at the point of origin, carried out with the producer, holder or notifier;
    (b) at the destination, carried out with the consignee or the facility;
    (c) at the frontiers of the Community; and/or
    (d) during the shipment within the Community.
  4. Checks on shipments shall include the inspection of documents, the confirmation of identity and, where appropriate, physical checking of the waste.
  5. Member States shall cooperate, bilaterally or multilaterally, with one another in order to facilitate the prevention and detection of illegal shipments.
  6. Member States shall identify those members of their permanent staff responsible for the cooperation referred to in paragraph 5 and identify the focal point(s) for the physical checks referred to in paragraph 4. The information shall be sent to the Commission which shall distribute a compiled list to the correspondents referred to in Article 54.
  7. At the request of another Member State, a Member State may take enforcement action against persons suspected of being engaged in the illegal shipment of waste who are present in that Member State.

Other measures from the European Commission to improve implementation of environmental law are available here.


The IMPEL TFS cluster holds annually a conference for all its members, partner organisations and relevant third parties. This conference provides the opportunity to share experiences, to receive updates on ongoing activities and to give input on the work of the cluster in an informal way. Projects under the umbrella of the cluster organise regularly project meetings. The steering committee of the cluster together with the TFS secretariat meet 3 or 4 times per year to discuss the progress of the cluster activities and decide on future projects.


Enforcement projects

The core of the cluster is the enforcement projects, which aim to prevent and detect illegal movements of waste. It started with the Seaport I and Seaport II project and the Verification of waste projects I and II and were being continued in the Enforcement Actions projects I and II. Early 2012 the third phase of the Enforcement Actions  commenced.  Main objectives of this projects are to work towards an adequate level of inspections by introducing measures that will prevent and detect illegal waste shipments; for example risk assessments, cradle-to-grave approaches and effective communication. Another aim is to verify waste destination and the treatment at destination within or outside Europe to ensure environmentally sounds management. In case of illegal shipments, procedures have been developed to facilitate the take-back. And finally maintaining and improving the network and collaboration of front line inspectors and other competent authorities and enforcement partners by exchange of information and knowledge.

The cluster also conducts waste specific projects, such as the End-of-life vehicles project and the E-waste project.


To support the inspectors, IMPEL TFS has developed several tools. We have, for example:

  • Drafted manuals which explain different inspection and detection methods;
  • Developed waste watches to identify and classify waste streams;
  • Developed a methodology for threat assessments which will facilitate competent authorities in setting enforcement priorities;
  • Developed tools to increase the awareness of persons who are subject to the controls of the TFS legislation, such as brochures (example 1, example 2 and example 3);
  • Where illegal movements of waste are detected, IMPEL TFS has drafted a guidance manual on the return of these shipments back to the country of dispatch.

In 2012 two other tools have been developed:

  • A practical guidance tool which can help improve the organisation and planning of waste shipment inspections by the competent authorities. This tool is developed under the ‘Doing the Right Things – TFS‘ project and is based on the Doing the Right Things guidance book developed by IMPEL Cluster 1;
  • Under the ‘Waste Sites’ project, good practices have been identified and a practical guidance tool for the inspection of “upstream” waste sites and for the promotion of compliance with waste law on these sites, by competent authorities in the IMPEL member countries has been developed;

Inspector Exchange programmes

We facilitate exchange programmes for inspectors. These programmes enable inspectors from one country to attend an inspection in another country. Sharing experiences and opinions on the spot is a very effective training tool that has been applied by IMPEL TFS.

National Contact Points

To provide opportunities for colleagues from various countries and authorities to meet, IMPEL TFS organises frequent meetings of the National Contact Points (latest meeting report) and an annual conference (click here for the most recent conference report, 2012)

These events provide opportunities to share experiences on case studies and ongoing investigations. They also give focus to the obstacles and barriers being experienced by inspectors when enforcing the rules; for example problems with interpretations of provisions.

Increasing awareness

As the enforcement of environmental law and more specifically the enforcement of waste shipments have generally speaking a low priority in countries, IMPEL TFS undertakes initiatives to increase the awareness of this topic. Members of IMPEL TFS frequently attend meetings from other organisations to give presentations. Also we try, together with the European Commission, to increase the awareness at the high level management of enforcement authorities and create enthusiasm for and commitment to supporting our work. Every 3 or 4 years we organise a special High Level Management meeting aimed at senior managers responsible for the enforcement of the regulation.


Collaboration at national and international level is of crucial importance for compliance checking on waste shipments. As the enforcement of waste shipments is not just a matter for environmental authorities, we also try to involve other national enforcement authorities such as the Police and Customs. At international level we establish contact with key countries that are at the receiving end of waste shipments. For the moment the main efforts are concentrated on the Asian Pacific Region and West Africa.

The European legislation on waste shipments has its main origin in the Basel Convention. The secretariat to this Multilateral Environmental Agreement is therefore an important partner for us. To underline this, IMPEL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Basel Convention Secretariat (SBC). Under the umbrella of this MOU, IMPEL together with the SBC and three Basel Convention Regional Centres in Africa are implementing component four of the E-wastes Africa project. This project component aims to enhance the capacity to monitor and control transboundary movements of e-waste and to prevent illegal traffic from the EU to African countries.

Current and future work areas

For 2013 the following activities are foreseen:

  1. Continuation of the Waste Sites, Enforcement Actions and Public Prosecutors Projects;
  2. The annual conference on waste shipments and waste management in the Netherlands, June 2013;
  3. Meeting of the IMPEL TFS National Contact Points in the Czech Republic, October 2013;
  4. Collaboration with the Basel Convention Secretariat for the ‘E-waste to Africa’ project;
  5. Collaboration with third countries and networks, with a focus on verifications and take-back procedures.

Cluster agenda and practical information

  • Cluster and project meetings: meetings are announced in the agenda
  • Organisation of the TFS Cluster
    The IMPEL TFS cluster is led by a Steering Committee that consists of representatives from eight Member Countries. The chair of the Steering Committee rotates annually between the members. Members of the Steering Committee:

– Allison Townley (United Kingdom)
– Marina de Gier (The Netherlands)
– Gabriele Hirth (Germany)
– Magda Gosk (Poland)
– Jon Engström (Sweden, current Chair of the IMPEL TFS Steering Committee)
– Kevin Mercieca (Malta)

  • Each participating country in IMPEL TFS has appointed one or two National Contact Points (NCPs). These persons function as first point of contact for the secretariat and others. Their tasks are to distribute and collect information from their national organisations and feed this into the IMPEL TFS network or vice versa. Participants in TFS projects can be the NCPs or other appointed colleagues. Click here for the contact information of the IMPEL TFS NCPs.