Asbestos disposal is big business in the UK nowadays as we strive to get rid of the asbestos that exists in buildings constructed before the total ban on the substance in 1999. Asbestos waste is not accepted at most of the local authority recycling centres in the UK and removal of asbestos waste should really be left to the professionals who are fully equipped and trained to handle this dangerous substance. Some local authority waste disposal sites will accept private asbestos waste.
If it’s household asbestos waste, then most local authorities will provide a disposal service for a fee. If a homeowner has employed a contractor or tradesperson to dismantle a structure containing asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs), then it is the responsibility of that contractor to remove and dispose of the waste. If asbestos is found in a home, then most local authorities recommend that an accredited asbestos professional removes the asbestos and disposes of it in a safe manner.
Until the total ban in the UK in 1999 there were more than 3.500 different products that contained asbestos, including floor tiles, artex and a variety of cement products, all of which were used in buildings all over the country. Asbestos was in extensive use here in the UK between 1950 and 1985 (when a partial ban was brought in). This means that most of the homes and public buildings in the UK will contain asbestos or ACMs somewhere in the construction – either in the original building or in parts of the building that have been refurbished.
If asbestos (or ACMs) is found in a building during remodelling or refurbishment and its condition is good, then it’s best left in place if possible. If the asbestos has started to deteriorate in any way, then it becomes a health hazard as the fibres can enter the atmosphere and they pose a risk to anybody breathing the air in that area. This means that the asbestos will need to be removed and disposed of by a professional accredited asbestos removal company and the disposal then becomes commercial rather than private.
So, what happens to all of the asbestos waste that we need to dispose of nowadays? The asbestos waste needs to be segregated from other waste (following approved codes of practice) and is then transported to a transfer station where a qualified waste supervisor reviews the waste and approves all the paperwork on it before monitoring any transfer.
The asbestos waste (which should have been double bagged and sealed) is then transferred from the contractor’s vehicle into a skip in a compound that is licensed and monitored by the Environment Agency. All asbestos waste must be packed in United Nations approved packaging with a Carriage of Dangerous Goods (CDG) hazard sign with the asbestos code information fully visible.