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EDOC - Electronic Duty of Care

LIFE09 ENV/UK/000023


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Contact details:

Project Manager: Chris DEED
Email: Chris.Deed@environment-agency.gov.uk



Project description:

Background

The UK Environmental Protection Act (1990) states that producers of waste have a legal ‘duty of care’ to take all reasonable steps to keep waste safe. The duty of care also applies to everyone involved in handling the waste, from those who produce it, to those whocarry it and to those who finally dispose of it or recover it. One of the most important regulatory features is that all businesses must have written information for the waste they handle. Traditionally this means using waste transfer notes (WTN). These describe the type and quantity of waste and how it is packaged – and signed by both the sender and receiver of the waste. Written information, like WTNs, must accompany any transfer of waste between different parties and be kept for scrutiny for at least two years. This regulatory paper-based system currently produces more than 23 million WTNs/year in the UK, leading to archive paper storage for some 150 million paper WTNs. This is a relatively inefficient and complicated process for both waste-chain stakeholders and regulators, not to mention the associated environmental costs.


Objectives

The Electronic Duty of Care (EDOC) project planned to develop a national, internet-based interface to record the collection, transportation, treatment and disposal of waste materials. The interface would enable monitoring and mapping of waste management without creating a mountainous paper trail. The national framework would be designed by the beneficiary with input from selected waste-chain stakeholders on issues around, for example, the accessibility of the internet-based interface. It was foreseen that businesses would be able to move to the edoc system in 2012. Using the system should demonstrate improved quality and reliability of waste data and create a more streamlined system for producers, brokers, carriers, receivers and regulators of waste, who will be able to refer to and agree the same digital information, rather than creating multiple paper records. The system would also provide greater accessibility to real-time data on waste movements. This would help waste producers to track the treatment and disposal of their waste, providing more security against unauthorised activity in waste disposal. It aimed to similarly allow for relatively easy benchmarking of waste management performance for those in the waste chain and facilitate the identification of opportunities for waste prevention, recovery and recycling throughout the lifecycle of the waste.


Results

The EDOC project developed an electronic system for storing WTNs that allows information to be used to plan waste facilities and ensure compliance with legislation. The edoc system also has the advantage of highlighting opportunities for minimising waste and identifying synergies between different waste streams. Users of the system can also benefit from cost savings, and the environmental benefits of shifting from a paper-based system are appreciable.

Its success was based on bringing together stakeholders from all areas of the waste industry, including regulators, in the form of a business advisory group. The beneficiary estimates that the cost saving for the government could be around £1 million from reducing national waste surveys alone.

The project deviated from the original plan to build on a pilot system that had been created prior to the launch of the project. Instead it created an entirely new system that became edoconline. This system was developed with support from the key stakeholders using agile metholodologies, and it was released in 14 stages over a period from September 2012 to October 2013. At each stage the stakeholders could comment on the process. The next release would then take into account these comments. This approach ensured that the final release was fit for purpose and accepted by users.

Furthermore, the edoc system was subjected to two rounds of 'superuser' testing. The superuser group was made up of representatives of the project’s business advisory group. Such testing helped finalise the edoc platform and provide feedback for the online tools and guidance. The final step was to run a series of tests that checked that the system was secure and not at risk of phising, privacy violation, identity theft and data destruction etc.

The end result, edoconline, was launched in January 2014 accompanied by an extensive communications strategy to reach the widest possible group of stakeholders. An estimated 3.5 million people were reached. High-profile waste companies such as FCC Environment were willing to promote the system. Furthermore, a simple and engaging promotional video and ‘how to’ videos were produced, while several webinars to raise awareness and demonstrate edoc were held. The UK government took on ownership of the system and a memorandum of understanding pledges to maintain and support the system financially for the foreseeable future. As part of this commitment, the platform, tools and support systems developed as a result of the project will continue to be in place and provide a free service for the waste industry. It is recognised that many large organisations already have their own electronic systems and cannot simply switch over to edoc, although some interfaces were designed as part of the system. It may be some time before there is a significant transition to the system. At the end of the project just over 14 000 waste records had been stored, but the publicity around the system in the final year is expected to lead to further increase in the levels of use. It is hoped that the original aspiration of having 18 million WTNs in electronic format will be realised.

Finally, the system has significant potential for replication for other waste streams, and edoc+ is in fact being considered for hazardous waste. Similarly, the potential for transfer to other Member States is high given that there are many similarities between legislation in different states at least at an EU level. The project approach of putting potential users at the centre of the development process, allowing their feedback to be accommodated at every stage, represents an important best practice. Early and continued engagement with users helped create good relationships and will optimise the system’s successful uptake.

Additionally, the project has the potential to support the implementation of the EU’s 7th Environment Action Programme, which promotes the transformation to a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy. The UK will be better able to plan waste management in the future. By knowing the volume and types of commercial and industrial waste produced, UK decision-makers can make informed decisions about new waste facilities and support regulators with the effective implementation of EU legislation.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


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Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Waste - Municipal waste (including household and commercial)


Keywords

waste management‚  monitoring system


Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...
  • COM(2014)398 - "Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe" (02.07.2014)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator The Environment Agency of Englandand Wales
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Environment Agency (EA) is the environmental regulator for England with powers and duties relating to environment protection, flood defence, water resources, fisheries, recreation, conservation and navigation.
Partners Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), United Kingdom Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), United Kingdom Reconomy Ltd., United Kingdom Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), United Kingdom Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), United Kingdom

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Project reference LIFE09 ENV/UK/000023
Duration 10-JAN-2011 to 18-DEC -2014
Total budget 4,176,500.00 €
EU contribution 2,088,250.00 €
Project location Wales(United Kingdom) Scotland(United Kingdom) Northern Ireland(United Kingdom)

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Read more:

Leaflet "Waste transfer today : Waste transfer from Januar ...
Poster "Waste transfer today: Waste transfer from January ...
Poster "Electronic duty of care programme" (183 KB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Publication: Technical report "Electronic Duty of Care : Detailed non-functional ...
Publication: Technical report "Electronic Duty of Care : Detailed Functional Req ...
Slides Presentation "Edoc: Electronic duty of care: The new way to rec ...
Video link EDOC video (3')

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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version