Online waste transfer system will save cash

Over two thirds of large and medium-sized food and drink businesses have shown their support for a new online waste management system.

In a recent survey, 67% of large or medium-sized food and drink companies who were questioned said they were keen to use edoc (electronic duty of care) — a free online system to record waste transfers that is being developed by the Environment Agency in partnership with the waste sector for roll-out in January 2014.

More than half (55%) of smaller food and drink businesses also said they would be interested in transferring.

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The introduction of edoc is designed to provide a modern, quick and easy alternative to the exchange of paper Waste Transfer Notes (WTNs), which all food and drink businesses across the UK have to fill out every time they dispose of any waste or pass it on to a waste carrier or contractor.

The new system will save time and money spent filing, searching and retrieving waste transfer records manually, reduce paper and cut down on storage needs. It will also give companies in the food & drink sector 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 waste management services for a variety of restaurants and food halls, said: “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.”

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.”

Businesses in the UK have a legal duty of care to deal with their waste responsibly. Every transfer of waste from one party to another, such as 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. A record must also be 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.

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