Estonia: Minister gets active against illegal scrap metal purchasing

Geldübergabe (Foto: ©Günter Havlena /

Tallinn, Estonia — Estonian Minister of the Environment Keit Pentus-Rosimannus sent an amendment to the various ministries for approval, which, in the future, will permit officials from the Environmental Inspectorate and the Police and Border Guard Board to conduct control sales at scrap metal purchasing sites while dressed in plainclothes.

“It is prohibited to accept the following from private persons: electrical cables, traffic signs, well covers and railway ties, and control sales provide the opportunity to test whether metal businesses are abiding by the prohibition,” explained Keit Pentus-Rosimannus. Pursuant to the Waste Act, the unlawful purchasing of metal can result in a fine of up to 300 fine units or € 1.200 for a person, and € 32.000 for a legal person.

The gravity of the situation is emphasised by the April raids on Tallinn and Harju County scrap metal purchasing points, where it was discovered that the law is violated by more than half of all companies. The group of violators also included those who had already been repeatedly punished beforehand for the same crime.

The joint operation of the Environmental Inspectorate, the Police and Border Guard Board, and network operators, has yielded excellent results, with a decrease occurring in the number of metal thefts. As a result of the raids, the Inspectorate has initiated 60 misdemeanour proceedings in the last two years.

Several purchasing locations that dealt with the illegal purchasing of metal waste have concluded their activities, and the number of metal thefts registered with the Police and Border Guard Board has decreased by nearly one half. Regardless of this, metal thefts from substations or railways continue to cause serious accidents.

The controlling of metal purchasing locations remains under intensified focus this year at the Environmental Inspectorate and the Police and Border Guard Board, and raids will be conducted across Estonia.

Source: Ministry of the Environment, Estonia