Almost three quarters of large waste operators have shown their support for a new system for recording transfers of waste online.
In a recent survey, 72 per cent of large or medium-sized waste operators who were questioned said they were keen to use edoc (electronic duty of care) – a free online system being developed by the Environment Agency in partnership with the waste sector for roll out in January 2014.
The introduction of edoc will provide a modern, quick and easy alternative to the exchange of paper Waste Transfer Notes (WTNs) – still widespread among businesses and waste contractors across the UK. It will save time and money spent filing, searching and retrieving records manually; reduce paper and cut down on storage needs. And it will give businesses easy access and the tools to interrogate their own waste data and identify opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce waste and cut disposal costs.
Bernard Amos, CEO at Helistrat, which provides consultancy and contract management services for retail clients including Marks & Spencer and McArthurGlen, said: “The edoc system is a brilliant idea and I’d encourage all companies to take it up.
“More and more we are moving towards paper-free ways of doing business and this makes perfect sense. It’s quicker, easier to trace and will help prevent fraud by removing the opportunity for people to take advantage of the revenue from waste. It will also be hugely time-saving. We have well over a quarter of a million paper WTNs that we have to scan and it will save our teams a great deal of time when it all goes electronic.”
The waste industry has demonstrated its support for edoc and has been actively involved in its development.
Barry Dennis, Director General of the Environmental Services Association (ESA) which represents major businesses in the sector, said: “The new edoc system is set to have a huge impact in the waste industry. It overhauls the current paper-based system and transfers it online which will make the process more efficient and effective.
“ESA has supported the development of edoc, working closely with the project team throughout the system’s development to ensure it is as easy to use and as fit for purpose as possible. We will be supporting the launch and implementation of edoc and helping to promote the use of edoc across the waste industry.”
On schedule to go live in January 2014, edoc is being developed under a four year project co-financed by the European Commission (LIFE+). The UK-wide project is led by the Environment Agency with partnership with the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Reconomy (UK) Ltd, Welsh Government and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme). The project also has the full support of Defra and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Use of edoc will not be mandatory, but the project partners hope that the benefits it offers will encourage businesses to make the move online.
Chris Deed, edoc programme manager at the Environment Agency, said: “With edoc, we are aiming to provide a modern means of recording waste transfers that reduces the administrative burden on businesses. We surveyed the six sectors for which UK waste compliance has particular impact and found the majority of businesses were keen to take up the new online edoc system. It’s a simple system to use, with so many benefits, and we want to help every business who takes its environmental responsibilities seriously to make the change to edoc.”
Every business in the UK has a legal duty of care to deal with their waste responsibly. Every transfer of waste from one party to another eg. a business to a collection, disposal or recycling contractor, or between contractors where there is more than one step in the chain, must be documented, agreed and signed by both parties, and a record kept for at least two years. It is estimated that approximately 23 million paper WTNs are produced across the UK each year, which means close to 50 million in storage at any one time.
In addition to reducing administrative burdens, edoc should also improve the quality of business waste data. Paper records are sometimes incomplete or difficult to read. With edoc, pick-lists, drop-down menus, prompts and templates will make it easy for users to complete fuller records. This will in turn contribute to a more complete and accurate picture of waste produced across the UK than ever before – invaluable for understanding and planning for waste at local and national levels in the future. It is thought that edoc could replace the need for costly business waste surveys, saving governments around £1 million per annum.