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It's Earth Day! Preserving the environment - What role for Customs and Businesses?

On the occasion of Earth Day, which is observed on April 22nd, we discuss the role that customs and globally trading businesses play in environmental preservation and share some top tips on how to reduce the environmental impact.

It may come as a surprise to some. But not for us, the global companies' customs and trade managers!

In case you were wondering, customs officials, import, export, and customs managers, as well as global trade specialists in all global firms, all play an important part in environmental protection!

About Earth Day

Earth Day, as we all know, is an occasion to show our support for environmental conservation. It began on April 22, 1970, and has since grown to encompass a diverse range of events coordinated internationally by Invest in Our Planet is the official theme for 2022. Environmental sustainability is a severe worldwide issue with far-reaching consequences not just for biodiversity, but also for national and international security, social and economic development, and global health. Pollution of the air, water, and land, as well as the loss of species and the depletion of natural resources, have far-reaching implications.

Sustainable Development and the role of Customs

Environmental conservation and preservation, as well as sustainable development, are essential goals of Customs and the Environment. Their purpose is to promote sustainable development and environmental conservation via policy creation, as well as the coordination and implementation of customs programmes addressing environmental problems.

The impact of International Environmental Commitments to Customs & Global Trade

The international community has concluded a number of multilateral environmental agreements containing international trade-related provisions, including

  • the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);

  • the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer;

  • the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal;

  • the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

It is crucial to note that if a country has not yet signed the appropriate international accords or does not have local legislation prohibiting certain environmental offences, Customs has minimal authority over certain imports or exports.

However, if a nation has joined environmental treaties and enacted domestic legislation forbidding or limiting specific trades, Customs may seize these commodities and penalise importers.

What role for Customs Authorities in Protecting the Environment?

Now it may not be so difficult to imagine anymore that customs plays a vital part in environmental protection through its activities at borders in a variety of ways. For example, if someone smuggled an endangered bird species into a nation, customs might put a halt to the illicit trade and save the creatures from extinction.

Customs, for example, can check items to ensure that they comply with the law and do not contain substances derived from rainforest wood.

Customs can also assist in the detection of counterfeit products and the prevention of their entry into the nation. This is especially true in the case of electronics; many people are unaware that many of their favourite devices are built with ingredients that are hazardous to both animal and human health.

Customs officials at ports also contribute to environmental conservation by enforcing environmental protection regulations for imported goods.

The presence of lead, for example, in toys poses a major risk to children's health and must be avoided.

Toys containing lead may be seized (or exporters/manufacturers may be ordered to remedy) if they do not fulfil required safety requirements as set out in international treaties or national legislation. Custom officers can conduct import inspections as part of their job as border enforcement officials.

Let's take a closer look at a few notable measures.

Trade in endangered species

The illegal wildlife trade is one of the most significant dangers to biodiversity, with certain species threatened with extinction. Customs must take cautious and preventative actions to combat the illegal wildlife trafficking. The most visible aspect of their activity is their involvement in CITES management (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). CITES' objective is to guarantee that international trading in wild animal and plant specimens does not endanger their existence. It governs the worldwide commerce in wildlife goods. We provide a comprehensive CITES training session for importers and exporters concerned by it; please contact us to learn more.

Measures against ozone-depleting substances

Customs should also play a proactive role in monitoring the trade in ozone-depleting substances, which are harmful to the environment and human health. Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are a class of compounds that, when released into the atmosphere, deplete the stratospheric ozone layer. This layer protects the globe from dangerous solar radiation, hence it must be protected against ODS.

Because many ODS emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases, their demise adds to global warming and climate change. Many have extended atmospheric lives ranging from 50 to several hundred years. Some have a far greater influence on global warming and climate change than carbon dioxide. Others have a lower lifespan yet live for decades.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol) is one of the most successful environmental accords in history has been the execution of this international pact, which aims to safeguard the Earth's atmosphere by phasing out items containing ozone-depleting chemicals (ODS).

Since 1989, almost 100 ODS have been phased out globally as a result of the accord. Custom enforces this.

Many other ways for customs authorities to help protect the environment

Other measures where the customs authorities play a role, include, for example, preventing the transportation of banned pesticides and other toxins and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by checking vessels for compliance with emissions standards.

But what about globally trading businesses?

At the same time, as we as individuals pay attention to environmental protection on Earth Day, ethical worldwide firms are paying attention as well.

And so they should: Companies have a duty to be decent global citizens, too.

And as most of our clients confirm, they are taking steps to safeguard our environment and help solve the world's most critical concerns.

These initiatives are vast, ranging from minimising packaging waste to optimising logistical procedures (e.g. shipping items by sea freight rather than air freight)

However, there are also practical reasons to protect the environment. The more a business invests in safeguarding the environment, the better your company will appear to customers and investors, while also helping us all build a better future together.

So, there are some eco-friendly tips you can apply every day:

  1. Make as much use of renewable energy sources as feasible, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric power sources.

  2. Recycle resources for use in other goods to reduce or eliminate waste.

  3. Whenever feasible, use recycled materials in new goods.

  4. Use packing materials that may be reused or recycled easily.

  5. Save energy and money by utilising green technology such as LED lights.

  6. Select suppliers who care about the environment by safeguarding water quality and eliminating pollution from manufacturing activities or transportation vehicles.

What do we do at Customs Manager to contribute to environmental preservation?

Every global trade expert and customs manager in our organisation has promised to do their part to protect the environment in their day-to-day business operations, with tangible activities ranging from litter avoidance to communal travel wherever possible.

All of our specialists additionally donate to a charity of their choosing committed to environmental preservation, in addition to becoming involved in other ways, such as volunteering or raising awareness of the plant's issues.

We also offset 100% of our carbon emissions from travel, and we work with companies to reduce the impact of our day-to-day operations. We can do more, and we are on our way to doing so.

We wish you a Happy Earth Day! We are proud to have you - THE ONLY ONE!


WCO & the Environment Report

WCO and the Environment Report 2021
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