Earlier this month, the government highlighted that the Environment Act, which received Royal Assent on 9 November 2021, provides for mandatory digital waste tracking to be introduced.
Section 58 amends the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to create powers to introduce electronic (digital) waste tracking in England, Wales and Scotland and to establish an electronic system for that purpose.
Section 59 amends the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 to create powers to introduce electronic (digital) waste tracking in Northern Ireland and to establish an electronic system for that purpose.
Discussions have already been carried out with over 1,200 waste businesses as to what is seen as important for waste tracking and related topics. Now during this month and February local authorities are to be contacted to see what needs they have from a waste tracking service. Councils are expected to suggest that a new tracking system could help in the battle against flytipping.
Digital waste tracking is seen by regulators and governments as working best as a single system for users whether they are recording what happens to waste in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. This prompted the UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to working together to develop a central digital waste tracking service.
The project is being delivered in distinct phases with the first phase developing proof of concepts and phase two, which ended in October 2020, producing two prototypes.
Phase 3 is taking the learning from Phases 1 and 2 to develop a full service to what are described as ‘Government Digital Service’ standards. This third phase started in January 2021.
The project team are working towards a target date for go live of a central digital waste tracking service from 2023/24
The team behind the project are working towards a target date for go live of a central digital waste tracking service from 2023/24. However, this could change for a number of reasons including IT development and how a transition to the new system will impact on businesses. These topics and more are expected to be raised in the consultation process.
The project has been recognised as being very complex with considerable IT challenges. Because of this the IT work has been broken down into small projects looking a specific problems. The first one of these was the basic question of “Where is waste going to?” Reference is being made within the work to the process for exporting ‘green list’ waste which are exports that do not require.
Next steps will see attention paid to the topic of knowing who is actually the waste which will include research into who is completing and agreeing hazardous waste consignments.
Alongside the practical side of the work, the project team are also looking at how the waste tracking project can help support and provide some of the data required for implementation of the government’s major waste reforms, In particular this includes its link to the reformed extended producer responsibility system where it is hoped that producers will be incentivised to think about how much packaging they use, and to design and use packaging that is easily recyclable or can be reused or refilled.
More information is available on the UK waste tracking project through its newsletters which are available HERE.