Disposing of household asbestos
Asbestos fibres are hazardous when inhaled. They can be released into the air when asbestos products are incorrectly handled, stored or transported for disposal.
To minimise the risk of asbestos exposure to yourself or your family, SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover) recommends that householders engage a licensed asbestos removal contractor if asbestos must be disturbed or removed. Do-it-yourself asbestos removal is not recommended.
Who regulates asbestos waste?
This depends on whether the asbestos is at a worksite or not.
Legal requirements for managing household asbestos waste
- Asbestos waste must be stored on your premises in an environmentally safe manner, this must include wetting down and sealing in heavy-duty plastic prior to transportation.
- Bonded asbestos material must be securely packaged at all times. (Bonded asbestos material means any material [other than friable asbestos material] that contains asbestos.)
- Friable asbestos material must be kept in a sealed container. (Friable asbestos material means any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry.)
- Asbestos-contaminated soils must be wetted down.
- All asbestos waste must be transported in a covered, leak-proof vehicle.
- Asbestos waste must be disposed of at a landfill site that can lawfully receive this waste. Check with your local council or landfill operator first.
- It is illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic garbage bins.
- It is also illegal to re-use, recycle or illegally dump asbestos products or asbestos contaminated waste.
- If you wish to remove friable asbestos or more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos from your home, you must engage a licensed asbestos removal contractor to do so. As the owner of the waste you must ensure that your asbestos is disposed of at a lawful disposal facility. To ensure this, request that your contractor provides a copy of the disposal receipt.
- If you have over 100 kilograms or 10 square metres of asbestos waste to transport to the tip the person transporting the load needs create a unique consignment number and report it to the EPA using WasteLocate. You can request this consignment number to track the location of the load at wastelocate.epa.nsw.gov.au
Penalties for breaking the law
Clean-up notices and prevention notices can be issued by the EPA and local councils (where they are the appropriate regulatory authority) to address pollution incidents at premises where asbestos fibres have been mobilised or asbestos waste has been handled in an environmentally unsatisfactory manner. If you are served with a clean-up notice you have to pay for the cost of cleaning up and safely disposing of the waste.
Find a facility that will accept asbestos – phone first
Always contact the facility or local council beforehand to find out whether asbestos is accepted and any requirements for delivering asbestos to the facility. Many facilities that accept asbestos waste require that you book in to dispose of asbestos at least 24 hours in advance.
Tip fees for asbestos waste
The EPA has no role in setting the gate fees charged by waste facility operators. It is the local waste facility’s management that sets gate fees, with the waste levy being only one component of the cost. The waste levy provides an incentive for waste generators to reduce the amount of waste they generate. The funds raised by the levy are used for NSW Government programs including Waste Less, Recycle More to provide better waste and recycling infrastructure across NSW.
Homes with loose-fill asbestos
Loose-fill asbestos is raw crushed asbestos, which was installed as ceiling insulation in an unknown number of NSW homes in the 1960s and 70s. The NSW Government has determined that homes containing this type of asbestos need to be demolished and comprehensive site remediation carried out to ensure the health and safety of the NSW community. In August 2015, NSW Fair Trading established the Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program designed to identify homes containing this type of asbestos and conduct appropriate remediation.
If you are concerned that your home contains loose-fill asbestos, please visit the Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program site for more information.
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Page last updated: 13 October 2016