Integrated IT systems and whole business reporting are vital for reducing waste and emissions to comply with environmental laws.
The UK Environment 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, CEO of ISB Global, companies including waste management and recycling service providers are still lagging behind in their ability to comply with the new standards. Outdated IT systems fail to provide a comprehensive, joined-up view of waste and emissions generated by both waste management companies and their customers, along with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 is designed to reduce the use of raw materials, encourage more recycling of waste and reduce amount of waste 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 and banning or restricting export 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,” said Williams.
“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 companies miss significant opportunities to improve operational performance, cut overheads and potentially reduce waste and emissions.
“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.”
ISB Global is a software and solutions provider for the waste management and recycling sector