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Stricter penalties for environmental crime


​by Natalia Patecka

16 December 2022

The act amending certain other acts to combat environmental crime entered into force on 1 September 2022. 

The act introduces stricter penalties for environmental crime and offences. The legislator is of the opinion that the criminal law response should correspond to the degree of detriment the committed act causes to society, wrongfulness of the act, and considerations of general and individual prevention. 

Key assumptions of the amended act

The amended act introduces changes to nine laws, including the Criminal Code and the Misdemeanour Code, inter alia by ordering payment of compensatory damages to the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in the amount of 10,000 to 10,000,000 zloty for an intentionally committed environmental crime.

The act also introduces a more severe criminal penalty for causing significant deterioration of nature  – the penalty of between 6 months and 8 years of imprisonment that can be imposed on the entity that causes significant deterioration of fauna and flora. Previously, this crime had been subject to the penalty of imprisonment of maximum 5 years. 

In addition, an entity that pollutes water, air or the surface of the Earth with a substance or ionising radiation can face imprisonment of between 6 months and 8 years. Previously, this crime had been subject to the penalty of imprisonment of between 3 months and 5 years. 

The amended act also introduces the possibility of imposing a penalty for waste mismanagement. For example, an entity illegally storing, collecting, processing or transporting waste may face imprisonment of between 1 and 10 years. Before the amendment, the penalty for this had been 3 to 5 years of imprisonment. 

The new legislation also provides for a stricter penalty for illegal import or export of hazardous waste. For this crime, the legislator introduces the penalty of imprisonment of between 2 and 12 years. Previously, the penalty for this crime had been 6 months to 8 years of imprisonment. 

The amended act also provides for imprisonment of between 2 and 12 years for abandoning hazardous waste in a place not intended for its storage or disposal.

It also introduces a minimum fine for throwing out stones, waste, scrap metal or carrion on field land not belonging to that person or for polluting the forest. According to the new law, the imposed fine may not be lower than 500 zloty.

Furthermore, if the offender buries, submerges, discharges into the ground in the forest or otherwise stores waste in the forest, he or she is liable to the penalty of custody or limitation of liberty, or a fine of not less than 1,000 zloty. 

If you have any questions about the above changes, please contact us. 

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Rafał Szymański

Attorney at law (Poland)

Senior Associate

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