Paperless management of hazardous waste (ZEDAL)

Published on: 04/06/2007

In cooperation with its project partner, the Abfallmanagement AG, SBB has established an eGovernment-system for the handling of the “Ordinance on Records of Proper Waste Mangement” which is mandatory by German law. By this system, a formerly very complex administrative procedure containing a high number of forms and handwritten signatures is replaced by a manageable, completely electronic method. This method contains a qualified electronic signature as well as the mandatory archiving of the digital certificates, thereby improving the workflow. The rationalization and simplification caused by the project benefits both the public and the private sector. A nation-wide insertion could lead to savings of approx. 50 Mio.€ per year, 80% of this sum being saved in the private sector.

Policy Context

As the environmental authority of the federal states of Brandenburg and Berlin, SBB is responsible for organizing the disposal of hazardous waste in those two federal states. The SBB accomplishes official duties in the environmental sector. Its activities are not profit-oriented. Since directive 75/442/EG on waste has been in force, the European waste legislation is dominated by one question: how can it be secured that produced waste can be verifiably disposed by use of the actual state-of-the-art? Former damages caused to the environment lead to the demand for a non-interrupted proof procedure for the disposal of hazardous waste on a EU-wide basis. The federal republic of Germany has fulfilled these EU-guidelines by establishing a paper-based, complex verification procedure. According to this procedure, before any disposal of hazardous waste there has to be a notification send by the waste producer and the waste disposal plant to the responsible authority. Copies of the consignment notes of each single disposal linked to this notification must be send to the responsible authorities, too. The registering of all disposals is obligatory. This procedure results in millions of paper forms circulated each year among the involved companies. Adjacent to this process, all documents are checked and archived by different authorities. Attachment 1 demonstrates the proceeding of the documents among the involved enterprises and authorities in a schematic display. The “Ordinance on the Simplification of Waste Management Monitoring” became effective in February, 2, 2007. This regulation issues the order that the formerly paper-bound record procedure must be converted into a completely electronic process. Deadline for the realization of this order is April, 1st, 2010. Practical experiences of the ZEDAL-project have been considered in the new German legislation. The enterprises participating in the ZEDAL-project already have the possibility to use the electronic waste management system.

Description of target users and groups

Our main target group are all private and public enterprises involved in the disposal process chain, especially those who are commercially producing, collecting, transporting, intermediately storing or disposing waste. An additional main target group are service providers (engineers, laboratories, project managers, controllers, etc.) working for those companies. Furthermore, authorities with different duties and responsibilities in the environmental sector are integrated in this system. This especially concerns authorities with permission- and monitoring competences (environmental authorities, police, Federal Bureau for Commercial Transport, etc.).

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The ZEDAL-project explicitly addresses to enterprises of different sizes. According to their specific requirements, different financial and technical conditions, there are four access paths to the ZEDAL-system. All of those ways have the same high-tech security standards. For the users of our online-method, there are only very little access barriers. Basically the user only needs a computer with access to the internet, a standard web browser, a signature card and a card reader. In this case, ZEDAL is used via its internet portal, which is very easy to use. In another way, the communication with the ZEDAL-system is managed by a low-cost offline-client (E-Form), which is a popular software for enterprises of the waste disposal sector. E-Form provides more functionalities, a handling that is more comfortable and is designed for companies that are more frequently dealing with the record procedure. As a third possibility, the existing computing system of an enterprise can be connected by using the cost-free interface ProZEDAL. By this measure, all functionalities of ZEDAL are available to the users while they can still use their familiar software. Many developers of software for the waste management branch have already integrated ProZEDAL into their products.

Main results, benefits and impacts

Our project uses common online-communication technologies such as encryption and chip card-based electronic signature. The novelty is that we are not only establishing a simple bilateral communication (e.g. download, filling and re-sending of a form) with these components, but also a highly complex administrative workflow that is handled completely paperless and legal. Thereby, an intensive horizontal communication between different business partners is taking place, as well as a vertical communication with the permitting authorities. No authority offers a comparable solution. There were and are different online-projects concerning to the “Ordinance on Records of Proper Waste Mangement”, but all of them are only dealing with single aspects of the proof procedure. For the first time, the current record procedure is completely electronically mapped – from the official confirmation of records and the handling of handover-certificates and consignment notes to the final online-transfer of the data into the nationwide authority network ASYS. The specific legal delivery regulations of the federal states of Brandenburg and Berlin are electronically mapped, including all belonging correspondence. ZEDAL not only communicates correspondence bound to specific forms, but also administrates electronic files that enable the user to embed additional, individual documents and files. In addition to waste producers and waste disposal companies, the environmental authorities, the monitoring authorities (police and Federal Bureau for Commercial Transport) and the service providers (e.g. legal representatives of the waste producers) are completely integrated into the electronic process. Handwritten signatures are replaced by electronic signatures on each step of the process chain. The whole electronic method is nationwide operating without the use of paper. No vehicle has to be equipped with expensive and susceptible mobile devices. The electronic process is configurable and is continuously adapted to actual legal and organizational changes. Currently, more then 10% of all hazardous waste disposals are already handled by use of the ZEDAL-system. The system already is in use in many other federal states. The cashable financial gains of the users are varying, depending on the workflow management of the particular enterprise/authority. Different sources declare that the employment of the electronic record procedure would save costs of approximately 17 up to 35 Euro per disposal procedure. According to an internal study of Infraserv GmbH&Co. Höchst KG, Frankfurt/Main, the deployment of ZEDAL saves at least 20 Euro per disposal procedure for the enterprises involved in the process chain, compared to the actual paper-based procedure. These savings are unequally distributed among the enterprises involved: 15% at the waste producer, 11% at the waste transporter, additional 57% at the disposal company and 17% at the environmental authority.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

With our completely electronically mapped “Ordinance on Records of Proper Waste Management” procedure, we have taken over a nationwide pioneer task. The procedure can easily be used nationwide, because the framework of the verification regulation is standardized in all federal states. Multiple exchange of experiences has been made between us and the environmental authorities of other federal states within the last months. Parts of our project ideas have been taken over for example in Saxony, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen. Practical experiences from our project have influenced the German “law for the simplification of the legal waste supervision”. Frequent project adjustments are taking place between SBB, the involved enterprises, the environmental authorities of the federal states of Brandenburg and Berlin and the ZEDAL-developers of Abfallmanagement AG. This vital exchange of practical experiences results in ZEDAL being always at the highest level of practical requirements. The experiences and results are regularly demonstrated in well-visited workshops with German CCIs, trade associations and branch organisations. In September 2006, the ZEDAL-project has been awarded with the 2nd place trophy in the category “best virtual organisation” during the 6th eGovernment-competition for federal, federal state and municipal authorities. This category was for prizing organisations that are supporting the integration of economy and authority as well as the vertical and horizontal cooperation. With its high quality, the ZEDAL-project has been appraised as being one of the cutting-edge driving forces of administrative modernization in Germany and eGovernment in general. According to the duties of the SBB, the use of the digital procedure has top priority for hazardous wastes. Apart from that, the online-method can also be used for the proceeding of non-hazardous wastes and the transboundary movement of waste according to the international notification procedure. Additionally, the system is able to map other application-bound B2G-processes, too.

Lessons learnt

Lesson 1 - Cooperation at "the same eye level“. Our first attempts as an authority to minimize the bureaucratic burden connected to the “Ordinance on Records of Proper Waste Management” began in the 1990s. The first decisive progress appeared when we started to cooperate with the economic sector. Thereby, different perspectives were brought together and a combined, optimised strategy was developed. Furthermore, a better understanding for the different problems of the involved enterprises was gained, which gave us the possibility for a trustful cooperation in the solution process of controversial questions. Lesson 2 - You can´t stand on one leg. Each enterprise needs three characters for the successful realization of a project: At first, someone on a high administrative level must make the “political decision” for the project. Secondly, a specialist must create the preconditions for the realization of the project. Thirdly, the future user must get involved in the project. Lesson 3 - Simplify life. In workshops regarding asymmetrical encryption methods, people are giving lectures about giant prime numbers, not reversible mathematical operations and 2.048Bit-keys. This gives the layman the impression, that the main task of IT-technology is to solve problems that you wouldn´t have without it. From the start, we concentrated on a user friendly software with a user interface limited to the essential. In every workshop regarding ZEDAL, we have presented the system online, including the electronic signing procedure. Thereby, the auditory realized that the daily handling of a highly academic signature technology is as easy as drawing money with a credit card.

Scope: National