Online waste transfer system welcomed by industry


A new system that avoids the hefty paper trail of Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) by recording transfers of waste online has been given the thumbs up from waste operators.

The online system, edoc (electronic duty of care), being developed by the Environment Agency (EA) in partnership with CIWM, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Reconomy (UK) Ltd, the Welsh Government and WRAP, aims to provide an alternative for the exchange of paper WTNs when it is rolled out in January 2014.

All businesses in the UK have a legal duty of care to deal with waste responsibly, with every transfer of waste from one party to another (e.g. a business to a collection, disposal or recycling contractor, or between contractors where there is more than one step in the chain), having to be documented, agreed and signed by both parties, and a WTN record kept for at least two years. 

It is hoped that by going digital, edoc will save time and money spent filing, searching and retrieving records manually, reduce paper, and cut down on storage needs. It is also hoped that 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.

72 per cent of business supports edoc

In a recent survey for the EA, 72 per cent of large or medium-sized waste operators who were questioned said they were keen to use edoc. Barry Dennis, Director General of the Environmental Services Association (ESA) said: "The new edoc system is set to have a huge impact in the waste industry. 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+).  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 DeedChris Deed, edoc Programme Manager at the EA (pictured right) 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.”

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 could also improve the quality of business waste data. Paper records are sometimes incomplete or difficult to read but the new system will make it easy for users to complete fuller records. It is hoped that this will in turn contribute to a more accurate picture of waste produced across the UK and help local and national authorities understand and plan for waste in the future.

Read more about edoc.