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Time to embrace online recording through Edoc

This year is going to be a really exciting one for everyone who has been involved in the development of edoc.  After about 18 months of intensive work to design and build an online system for quick, efficient and paperless waste transfer recording, we’re on the brink of revealing edoc to the business world.

From here on in, 2014 is about promoting the system and engaging with the waste sector and wider business community to show what edoc can do for them.

Since unveiling a preview of the edoc system at RWM back in September last year, we’ve been really encouraged at the level of interest.  It confirms that there is clearly an appetite in business for an, easier way of recording waste transfers.  We’ve worked with over 100 different businesses during the development phase– both to get input to the design and functionality of edoc, and to test it to breaking point before it goes live.

What we’ve heard about from them is the administrative burden - printing, copying, posting, scanning, filing and searching through thousands of paper waste transfer notes - and the financial cost that comes with this element of demonstrating duty of care.  It’s been challenging at times, but the input we’ve had from potential users has been critical to getting the system right. 

That’s where the agile approach we’ve taken to software development has paid dividends.  Building edoc stage by stage, with roll-out to volunteer business user testers at regular intervals, has meant we’ve been able to take stock of feedback, build in new functionality where the need has been identified, and really concentrate on delivering a user-centred solution that will work for small, medium and large businesses.   Working with government partners across the UK, we’ve also been able to ensure that edoc is tailored to the specific legislative requirements of each nation.

The result is a completely paperless electronic system that will allow users anywhere in the UK to create, share, edit, sign and save waste transfer records securely and confidentially.  It will be free to use, but it won’t be mandatory.  It will save businesses time, paper and storage space, and that means saving money.  We estimate that edoc could save some users as much as 50% of the cost associated with the creation, storage and retrieval of WTN’s.   Overall, that could add up to more than £7 million in savings for UK business.  The system makes it easy for businesses to demonstrate compliance with duty of care, and has the added benefit of reducing the opportunity for poor or fraudulent reporting, which undermines the efforts of legitimate operators.  

While helping businesses fulfil their legal duty of care easily and cost effectively was the primary objective in developing edoc, the system offers enormous potential added value for users in the ability to search, interrogate and report on their own waste transfer data at the touch of a button. Users will be able to tailor reports for their specific business needs, whether that is to understand more about the amount and type of waste they are producing or handling, or for business planning purposes.

And while individual records remain totally confidential to the parties involved in a transfer, edoc will also generate anonymised aggregated data reports that will be invaluable in gaining insight to overall business waste arising across the UK.  At this level, we believe edoc will eventually provide us with a much more accurate and comprehensive picture of UK business waste than has ever been available before.  In fact, it is envisaged that edoc could replace the need for costly business waste surveys, saving UK governments around £1 million per annum.

Now that edoc is about to go live and businesses across the UK are able to start making the move online, we will be refocusing our efforts on spreading the word and promoting the benefits of the system to potential users across the UK.   

Our volunteer businesses users have the benefit of being ahead of the game, and we’ll be working with them as they embed edoc into their working practices to share experience and influence wider take-up.  We’ve deliberately designed edoc to be intuitive and easy to adopt, whether by a small business or a large multi-national, and we’ve got strong expertise on the team in the shape of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management to help build up a bank of user support and training tools through 2014, based on experience and feedback from users.   We’ll also be working with professional and industry groups, and using relevant events to showcase edoc to key sectors, present case studies and gather user feedback throughout the year.

It’s the time of year for new resolutions – mine is to bring the big players from the waste industry and sectors like retail and construction around to implementing, or piloting edoc in their businesses.  I believe that if the big players show the way, then their customers and others will follow.   And I’d throw out this challenge to anyone interested in managing their waste responsibilities more efficiently – if there is only one thing you do in 2014, try out edoc and see the future of waste transfer recording for yourself.

Development of edoc has been carried out by a partnership of waste industry and UK government bodies comprising the Environment Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Reconomy UK Ltd, the Welsh Government and WRAP, with the full support of Defra and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).  The project is co-financed by the European Commission LIFE+ programme. 

Watch this space for further news on the edoc launch date - www.edoconline.co.uk

Chris Deed, project manager, Environment Agency

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