UK businesses must do more to adapt to changes in waste industry legislation

waste management

Integrated IT systems and whole business reporting are essential for reducing waste and emissions and ensuring compliance with UK Environment Act, says waste management software provider ISB Global.

It’s now been over a year since the UK Environment Act became law. The act contains a range of commitments for businesses on recycling and the handling, management and disposal of waste that are intended to encourage the adoption of a more circular economic model. But according to Chris Williams, founder and CEO of ISB Global, a software and solutions provider for the waste management and recycling sector, UK companies – including waste management and recycling service providers – are still lagging behind in their ability to comply with the bill’s new standards.In a new blogpost, Williams points to outdated IT systems that fail to provide a comprehensive, joined-up view of the waste and emissions generated by both waste management companies and their customers, along with the various processes to manage them. 

 “Like all new legislation, the UK Environment Act requires businesses to go through a period of change to meet the new regulations and standards it contains,” said Williams. “But more than 12 months since the Act became law, some organisations still need to introduce new methods and processes before they can be fully compliant. An integrated approach is crucial when making these changes.” 

For the waste and recycling industry, the Act contains a range of measures designed to reduce the use of raw materials, encourage more recycling of waste, and reduce the amount of waste that is sent to overseas landfills. They include: 

  • Extending producer responsibility to make producers pay for 100 percent of cost of disposal of products, starting with plastic packaging 
  • A deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers 
  • Charges for single-use plastics 
  • Electronic waste tracking to monitor waste movements and tackle fly-tipping 
  • Regulating shipment of hazardous waste 
  • Banning or restricting export of waste to non-OECD countries 

“These appear to be specific targets, however, there is no detailed pathway to reaching them,” explained Williams. “Achieving these goals relies on companies devising, implementing and monitoring a range of individual policies themselves. It also requires a concerted effort from the waste and recycling industry to improve processes, take advantage of circular economy opportunities, and to measure and report their progress. 

“In order to comply with the standards and obligations set out in the Act, companies must become more efficient, manage their own greenhouse gas emission plans, make financial investments in people and systems, and in many cases change their priorities so that they support a more circular economy,” Williams continued. 

“However, many companies still have in place multiple IT systems covering stand-alone functions such as accounting, order management, transport logistics, weighbridges and site management. These IT systems exist in siloes and were not built to work with one another. They collect, store and report data in different ways, meaning no data equity and little visibility across the business. This makes decision making difficult and as a result companies miss significant opportunities to improve operational performance, cut overheads, and potentially reduce their waste and emissions and those of their customers.” 

“A single integrated system approach provides complete visibility – not just across every process but across the entire business. An integrated IT system enables more accurate reporting and more informed decision making: and is also an effective way to identify new operational efficiencies while also meeting environmental laws.” 

Williams concluded, “Every business faces sanctions if its fail to comply with the new regulations included in the UK Environment Act, and the waste management sector is no exception. Managing and monitoring all activities through a single centralised, transparent system is essential for our industry to properly manage waste and emissions, to meet both our own and our customers’ legal and regulatory responsibilities.”