NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy 2019-21

The NSW Government is committed to protecting people from poor asbestos management practices. The NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy (the strategy) (PDF 0.7MB) proposes innovative measures to reduce illegal dumping and unsafe disposal and promotes lawful and appropriate disposal of asbestos waste.

These measures are the result of social research, ongoing feedback from stakeholders, pilot programs and evaluation of existing processes. The strategy is focused on better managing asbestos waste including illegal dumping and improper disposal.

A key approach in the strategy is to help make asbestos waste disposal cheaper for NSW householders by investigating the removal of the waste levy on separated, bonded and wrapped asbestos (for amounts of up to 250 kilograms).

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) requires certain licensed waste facilities in NSW to pay a contribution for each tonne of waste received at the facility. Referred to as the 'waste levy', the contribution aims to reduce the amount of waste being landfilled and promote recycling and resource recovery. Currently, the waste levy applies to any asbestos waste generated or disposed of within the regulated area.

The EPA is not proposing to remove the waste levy from waste that has asbestos mixed with other materials such as soils or other construction and demolition waste.

Why do we need to manage asbestos waste?

Managing asbestos waste is an important issue because of the threat to public health and the environment through exposure. The EPA want to reduce the risk of harm through exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos waste disposal presents complex and unique problems. Most asbestos waste comes from renovation and development, and also includes legacy asbestos waste such as pieces found in backyards and under houses.

The human health risk of asbestos can be managed with correct handling, storage, transport and disposal. However, environment protection agencies and local authorities across Australia are still challenged by illegal dumping and improper disposal.

Our approach

We are taking a whole-of-system approach to promote good behaviours and discourage poor behaviours. It covers where asbestos waste exists or is generated, how it’s handled and transported and where it may end up. The six proposed approaches in this strategy are interrelated and should operate together.

Making asbestos waste disposal easier

Help create more practical options for safe and lawful asbestos waste disposal, such as collection by private operators and more places for homeowners and contractors to lawfully dispose of asbestos waste.

Making asbestos waste disposal cheaper

Work with local government and industry to provide cheaper ways for householders and licensed contractors to lawfully dispose of asbestos waste under certain circumstances.

Increasing awareness and changing behaviour

Work with local government and other key stakeholders to raise awareness, increase education and change the behaviour of householders and licensed asbestos removalists, and other demolition, excavation and waste management contractors.

Closing loopholes and increasing transparency

Work with local government and SafeWork NSW to close loopholes on operators who do the wrong thing and make it easier to understand where asbestos is being moved to, and who is not disposing of it properly.

Disrupting unlawful business models

Target unlawful business models, making it harder for operators to do the wrong thing, removing the financial gains from their unlawful activities and increasing their risk of getting caught.

Monitoring and evaluating

Monitor and evaluate our progress. Every two years, we will report on our completed work, committed funding and progress.

 

Earlier this year, new Standards for Managing Construction and Demolition Waste (the Standards) at recycling facilities in NSW began. The Standards require waste storage and recycling facilities receiving a threshold amount of construction waste to implement waste management practices to minimise the risk of asbestos waste entering the facility.

With the strategy in place and the various measures taken last year, the NSW Government no longer considers a further asbestos protocol as necessary or best practice.

Resource recovery facilities are expected to take all necessary steps to ensure asbestos contamination does not occur.

Why has the NSW Government developed a NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy 2019-21?

Managing asbestos waste safely is an important priority for NSW. The government is committed to protecting the community and environment from poor asbestos waste management practices. This includes illegal dumping and improper disposal. The strategy aims to reduce the risk of harm through exposure to asbestos waste by improving asbestos waste management practices.

How was the strategy developed?

In 2017, the EPA undertook a range of research and work with key stakeholders to explore behaviours around poor asbestos waste management. This work highlighted that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that would ensure asbestos waste is appropriately, safely and lawfully managed and disposed of. Instead a range of measures targeted at different sectors is required.

The background work generated a better understanding of asbestos waste issues which has helped inform the development of the strategy. The work identified a range of solutions that, when combined with the initiatives outlined in the NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy 2017-21, will help address the significant drivers of poor asbestos management practices.

The draft strategy was released for consultation in October last year. Overall, the strategy was well received and supported by our stakeholders. The feedback received has been carefully considered and helped inform the final strategy. Thank you for your feedback on the draft strategy.

What is not included in the strategy?

The strategy does not cover contaminated land or naturally occurring asbestos sites. It focusses on the transport and disposal of asbestos waste which the EPA is responsible for regulating.

How can I lawfully dispose of asbestos waste in NSW?

NSW waste facilities that accept household asbestos from the public are listed by region.

Always contact the waste facility in advance to check

  • whether asbestos is accepted
  • any requirements for delivery.

Some landfills require 24-hours notice. They may also have rules about how you package and deliver the asbestos.

What period will the strategy cover and how will we know if it’s working?

The strategy will run over a two-year period, from 2019 – 2021. It will run in parallel with the NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy 2017-21. These strategies share actions and collectively aim to reduce the number of asbestos containing illegal dumping incidents in NSW.

The EPA is gathering data through the EPA’s illegal dumping database ‘RIDonline’ to track progress and success. This information will be used as a baseline from which success can be measured.

How does this strategy fit into other waste strategies?

The strategy has been developed to complement the actions listed in the NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy 2017-21. Reducing illegal dumping is key result area of the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (WARR) Strategy 2014–21.

How will the strategy benefit the NSW community and the environment?

The strategy looks at increasing the convenience of disposing of bonded asbestos waste, improving asbestos regulations, reducing the costs of disposing of bonded asbestos waste, increasing awareness around asbestos waste handling and disposal, improving the upfront controls on asbestos and increasing the chance of getting caught if you dispose of asbestos illegally. This combined approach aims to improve asbestos waste management in NSW which in turn will provide a cleaner and safer environment for the NSW community.

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