Resource Use

Defra consults on waste transfer note changes


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has today (9 December) launched a consultation asking for views on its propsals to amend the regulations surrounding Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) and waste carrier authorities.

Relevant to England and Wales, the‘Red Tape Challenge: Alternatives to Waste Transfer Notes and other Aspects of Waste Regulations’ requests responses to government proposals for ‘greater flexibility’ around Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) as well as making two ‘minor’ amendments to legislation relating to waste carrier registration and enforcement. 

Primarily aimed at organisations and individuals in the waste sector, government, businesses and the third sector, it will be open for submissions from today (Monday 9 December) until Monday 20 January 2014.

The consultation forms part of government’s response to the Red Tape Challenge - an initiative to review and remove ‘unnecessary’ regulations that potentially restricts business growth and proves ‘burdensome’ to smaller businesses.

Consultation details

Divided into four sections relating to WTNs and waste carrier authority and registration, the consultation proposes:

  • clarifying the use of alternative documentation to record the written description of waste currently recorded on Waste Transfer Notes;
  • inviting possible revisions to the information that currently comprises the written description of waste;
  • reinstating the procedures on how waste carriers can produce evidence of their authorisation to transport waste when this is not done at the time of a request by an enforcement officer; and
  • adding to the list of relevant offences the Environment Agency/Natural Resources Wales can take into account when registering waste carriers, brokers and dealers.

Waste Transfer Notes

The Red Tape Challenge specifically indicated that the current Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) – of which there were 23.5 million produced in the UK last year - are ‘burdensome’ for small businesses to fill in.

A Waste Transfer Note (WTN) is a document that provides a written description on transfer of waste from one establishment or person to another ‘to prevent the unlawful deposit of waste’ as part of Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) which places a Duty of Care on persons concerned with controlled waste.

Every load of controlled waste received or passed from one establishment or person to another must be covered by such a document. This ‘ensures that there is a clear audit trail from when the waste is produced until it is disposed of’.  All but householders are responsible and breach of the Duty of Care is an offence.

They are intended to ‘create a self-policing system’, facilitate ‘cradle to grave’ waste audits, support ‘enforcement and prosecution’ from regulators and ultimately to ‘help implement the requirements of the revised EU Waste Framework Directive’ (WFD).

Although the voluntary Electronic Duty of Care (EDoC) – which allows for an electronic recording of WTNs – will launch in January 2014, the government estumates that around 20 per cent of waste transfers will continue to be paper-based. As such, the consultation is aimed at those businesses that choose not to use EDoC and aims to provide them with greater flexibility to fulfil their Duty of Care requirements in respect of the description of waste.

It is proposed that those who transfer and handle waste should have the ability to record the information on alternative documents such as invoices, orders or receipts should they wish to do so.

Chris Deed, who is leading implementation of EDoC in partnership with the waste industry and other UK government bodies, welcomed the consultation, saying: “The whole ethos behind edoc is to create a simple, cost-effective means for businesses to comply with the duty of care for waste. Millions of individual business waste transfers are recorded every year, using up paper and taking up costly space, not to mention the administrative headache of filing, storing and searching for individual records if they are needed.”

Government is also seeking views on other possible revisions to regulation 35 of the 2011 Regulations, in terms of the information that is required to be recorded on WTNs. Specifically, the consultation asks ‘how helpful or necessary’ this information is to ‘adequately meet the Waste Duty of Care’.

Duty of Care code of practice is also up for revision following amendments to ‘reflect changes brought in by the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011’. However, consultation on this matter is postponed until decisions are made upon the WTN policy.

Waste carrier authority

The second part of the consultation relates to how and when a waste carrier presents their permit to carry waste.

Local Authorities and the Agencies have the power to require a person to produce their permit (or ‘authority’) to transport waste.

The proposal intends to deal with ‘an unintended consequence’ of repealing regulation 14 of the Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations 1991 when the 2011 Regulations were made.

Government ‘intends to reinstate the provision relating to how the obligation on a person to produce their authority to transport waste, is met,’ as a description of how to comply was ‘unintentionally missed out’ in 2011.

The new provision differs by allowing documentation production up to five working days after the request rather than seven days.

The final section also proposes that additional offences connected to metal theft are added to the list of offences in regulation 29(5) of the 2011 Regulations relating to the refutation of registration of waste carriers, brokers and dealers.

Access the consultation and read more about the Red Tape Challenge.