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Defra upgrades the ‘register as a waste carrier service’

Defra recently upgraded the “Register as a waste carrier” service so that anyone who carries waste in England can now register without setting up an account and can renew their registration via an automated email reminder.


Defra upgrades the register as a waste carrier service feat

According to Defra, doing a major upgrade during COVID-19, while the Environment Agency’s call centre was at reduced capacity, was a challenge. But so far, the number of people renewing online has doubled and the call centre is reporting that it’s taking them less time to process calls.

Why this was needed

Waste Carriers was Defra’s first digital project and one of the 25 GOV.UK “exemplar” projects. Although they had over 330,000 registrations since April 2014, this was always a first iteration and it was starting to show its age. In particular:

  • users often couldn’t register because they needed to sign up for an account but weren’t aware they also needed to confirm their email address
  • users would phone the Environment Agency to renew, because they couldn’t access the details they registered with three years previously
  • users might not know when they needed to renew
  • the code itself was buggy and not written to modern standards, with some accessibility issues as a result

Defra introduced online renewals for Waste Exemptions in April with great results. On Waste Carriers they had the added complication that everyone registering had signed up to an account.

User research told them they could remove the need for an account with minimal impact to users and their call centre. Doing this came with a huge upside – no passwords to remember, and users could just click a link in an automated email to renew instead.

Adapting to COVID-19

With COVID-19, the Environment Agency was unable to take payments over the phone, which made it even more important for us to help people renew themselves where possible.

This was addressed this by:

  • temporarily allowing people a longer grace period to renew and reflecting this grace period in the public register
  • updating future letters template to ask people to renew online where possible
  • allowing the Environment Agency to send a link to people needing to renew

To read further, go to

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