In a survey, 72% of large or medium-sized construction businesses who were questioned said they were keen to use edoc (electronic duty of care) – a free online system being developed by the Environment Agency in partnership with the waste sector for roll out in January 2014.
The edoc system is designed to provide an easy alternative to the exchange of paper waste transfer notes (WTNs) that are still widespread among construction businesses and waste contractors across the UK.
Morgan Sindall Group head of sustainability Brian Handcock said: “The key principles for construction businesses in terms of their waste transfer recording systems are speed, efficiency and accuracy. Having access to edoc will bring all of these benefits.
“It will remove the burdensome paper-based waste transfer note system, resolve issues with paper storage and give us the quality IT system that the construction industry deserves.
“Overall, this is bringing us into the 21st century – a natural progression for the industry.”
Construction industry figures released last summer showed that construction and demolition waste to landfill in England had reduced by 1.87m tonnes* from 2008 to 2010, with efforts being made every day across the industry to cut the amount of waste.
The Environment Agency and its project partners are hoping that edoc will help lead to further reductions.
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 is also backed by 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 move online.
Environment Agency edoc programme manager Chris Deed 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.”
Every business in the UK has a legal duty of care to deal with their waste responsibly. Every transfer of waste from one party to another eg 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, and a record 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.
* Figures taken from ‘The 2010 figures for the amount of construction, demolition and excavation waste landfilled in England’, published in July 2012 by the Strategic Forum for Construction.