Resource Use

Online waste transfer system launches

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The new online waste transfer reporting system, edoc, has officially gone live today (29 January).

Developed under a four-year project co-financed by the European Commission (through LIFE+ funding) and led by the Environment Agency (EA) in partnership with the waste sector and government bodies from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, edoc allows waste transfer notes (WTNs) to be completed electronically rather than by hand to save ‘time, effort and money’.

Via the online portal, users can:

  • create WTNs and season tickets and share them between the parties involved;
  • review, edit, sign and store WTNs securely online;
  • view a permanent log of all actions performed on a WTN, by whom, and when; and
  • use a tracking feature for transfers involving more than one movement. 

It forms part of government’s Red Tape Challenge, which aims to save businesses money by removing administrative burden. Indeed, David Cameron announced earlier this week that submitting WTNs online rather than by hand could replace 23 million paper notes a year.

Potential to move 80 per cent of WTNs online

The system was previewed at the three-day RWM in partnership with CIWM conference in October and has reportedly attracted interest from ‘hundreds of businesses’.

Speaking of the launch today, Chris Deed, edoc programme manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We estimate that UK businesses currently create some 23 million waste transfer notes every year. With the legal requirement to keep documentary evidence for at least two years, that’s potentially 50 million pieces of paper in storage somewhere across the country at any one time.  

“We’re really encouraged by the response we’ve had to edoc so far. It’s not a mandatory system, but the level of interest shows that businesses want to use it. We believe edoc will become the default option for most companies, and has the potential to move 80 per cent of waste transfer records online over time.”

Businesses that have already looked into taking up the system, such as consultancy Helistrat and retailer Marks & Spencer, have welcomed the traceability and security of the online system.

Local authorities have also voiced interest in the online system, with Blackpool County Council’s Commercial Waste Manager, John-Paul Lovie, saying: We produce around 2,200 waste transfer notes per year and there are only two of us printing them off and sending them out, which is very time consuming, and financially quite expensive.

“WTNs have always been a target for the improvement of our work. The old paper-based methods were crying out for redesign and finally edoc now provides us with the solution to do just that.”

Improving waste data

As well as improving convenience and time, it is hoped the data ascertained by edoc could help provide governments with ‘high quality, real-time data’ on construction and industrial waste arisings, and save around £1 million per year on business waste surveys.

Steve Lee, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), explained: “We have supported the whole production process of edoc and we are confident that it will allow businesses across the UK to carry out a wide range of tasks which will help to modernise and streamline waste transfer recordings in the future.

“As well as saving time and money on administration, edoc has a far bigger and more important role to play in the long term. It will give businesses the ability to understand… their own waste data and identify opportunities to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and cut disposal costs. These are benefits that will impact positively on the bottom line and improve competitiveness.”

ESA’s Director General, Barry Dennis, added that the system could ‘transform’ the way businesses record what happens to the waste they produce, or handle, and help reduce the ‘ability to falsify paperwork, and [increase] controls to discourage illegal waste management’.

The project partners are now urging UK businesses that produce or handle commercial waste to adopt the online option.

Users can access edoc in two main ways, via the web portal or through an application software interface (API), which allows a business to transfer relevant information from an existing electronic recording system directly into edoc without duplicating effort.

Find out more about edoc.