Author: Natália Jánošková, Associate, Corporate/M&A, CMS Bratislava
In January 2020, new Slovak waste legislation introduced an electronic information system for waste management.
The Waste Management Information System is a central information system established by the Slovak Ministry of Environment. It is intended to enable effective electronic communication between the individual obligated persons and the state administrative authorities. At the same time, it unifies and replaces existing information systems.
A major innovation is the obligation to record waste electronically via the information system regularly (monthly). This is done by submitting a waste report that records the generation and management of waste.
The main purpose of the information system is to monitor the entire waste management process – from generation to disposal or eventual recovery. In addition, the system also fulfills the obligations arising from special waste legislation or from the Slovak Republic’s international obligations of in this area. The aim of the electronic information system is to simplify and modernize the system for recording, reporting, and obtaining permits.
Although the waste management information system has been enacted into law by the recent amendment to the Waste Act (Act No. 79/2015 on Waste and Amendments to Certain Acts) of 1 January 2020, it is still not fully operational.
Commissioning the information system for waste management
Several Slovak IT companies alerted the Slovakian Ministry of Environment that the information system is not yet ready for launch. The launch of the information system was subsequently postponed by another amendment to the Waste Act, which came into force on 14 October 2020.
The information system was originally supposed to be fully operational from 1 January 2021. Due to the pandemic and the need to fix some technical problems, the deadlines for the individual services to be provided via the information system were again postponed. The information system will now be commissioned in several phases:
1. Phase – Entry in the waste registers
From 1 January 2021, applications for entry in the waste registers can be submitted electronically via the information system. These include, for example, applications for entry in the register of producers of specific waste, the register of waste collection facilities, and the register of waste recovery facilities.
2. Phase – July 2021 – Waste decisions
From 1 July 2021, applications for the issuance of a decision as well as for the extension of a decision or applications for the amendment of a decision under the Waste Act can be submitted electronically via the information system.
Until 1 July 2021, the above submissions can be made via the website www.slovensko.sk in accordance with the applicable legislation.
3. Phase – January 2022 – regular electronic recording of waste
The third and final phase is planned for January 2022. From 1 January 2022, the waste management information system should be fully operational. It should then be possible to comply with all recording and reporting obligations via the waste management information system. This means that even the regular (monthly) recording of waste will only be carried out via the information system from 1 January 2022.
Further details of the waste collection and reporting process are regulated by a recent amendment to the Ordinance of the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic, which entered into force on 15 November 2020. The annex to the ordinance also contains the required model forms.
The year 2021 therefore brings only one new obligation – registration in the waste registers via the waste management information system.
Advantages of the central information system for waste management
The waste management information system will offer the following benefits:
- an online register of all companies active in waste management (waste producers, waste holders, waste processors, collection centres, etc.), which provides the public with, among other things, comprehensive information on waste processing capacities and transfer options for individual types of waste;
- a significant acceleration in the processing of data about the material flow of waste and an upgrading of the data collected for international reporting as well as for waste management planning;
- a simplification of data reporting for all waste managers who currently have to report data in paper form;
- electronic services provided by the state administrative authorities in the field of waste management; this includes conducting surveys, issuing various permits and approvals, issuing opinions and related activities.
The information system also brings with it some surprises and disadvantages
We predict that the information system for waste management will also bring new challenges. For this reason, we take a critical view of the statement by the Slovak Ministry of the Environment that this platform will make life easier for companies.
I Monthly instead of annual reports
Currently, waste reporting is carried out annually in the form of a waste summary report. According to the new waste legislation, waste must now be reported every month. This regular waste reporting is the most discussed change in connection with introducing the waste management information system.
II Structured forms and automated processing of waste reports
The regular monthly waste reports are created using structured forms that are automatically checked. Thus, submissions with, e.g., invalid waste codes will be automatically rejected. The previous paper reporting was not processed automatically; so, reports containing, for example, typing errors were not automatically rejected.
III Obligations also affect companies that are not directly active in waste management
From 1 January 2022, any company producing specific waste (e.g. producers of electrical appliances, batteries and accumulators, packaging, vehicles, tyres) will have to submit regular monthly waste reports. This means that even the smallest waste producers who are not active in the waste management sector will have to comply with these obligations.
What risks does the waste management information system pose for companies?
I Automatic balance control
Inspections verify that the data in a waste transfer report matches the data in a waste reception report; this means that waste must be recorded consistently at both companies (receiving and transferring).
II Responsibility for waste disposal
Waste may only be handed over to companies that have the appropriate waste disposal permit. The waste transferor is responsible for transfering the waste at the time of transfer.
III Waste acceptance overruns
The company accepting the waste must not exceed the maximum waste acceptance quantity authorised to it. This is checked by automated inspections.
Automation by means of the waste management information system also includes the processing of incorrectly – or erroneously – submitted waste reports – i.e. waste reports with incorrect data. This means that the system automatically reports incorrect waste reports together with automatically generated documents to the Slovak Environmental Inspectorate. Based on these automatically generated documents, fines are imposed for breaches of obligations.
Businesses need to prepare in a timely and appropriate manner
Businesses must prepare in a timely and appropriate manner to meet the obligations arising from the new waste legislation. The market offers various software solutions dedicated to waste records that can be used to record both operational and legal waste records in compliance with the law.