Asbestos Disposal Advice
The following advice applies to England, but may not apply to Wales or Scotland.
Asbestos waste is any waste which contains more than 0.1% w/w asbestos. It is subject to the waste management controls set out in the Hazardous Waste (England & Wales) Regulations 2005 that amended the ‘Special Waste Regulations’.
Registration for Asbestos Disposal
Asbestos containing waste (ACW) must be consigned as soon as possible in a safe manner by a registered waste carrier to a dump licensed to accept asbestos. There are two exceptions to this rule – agricultural ACW and domestic ACW (with exceptions); see below for information regarding how to remove agricultural ACW and domestic ACW in a safe manner.
One requirement under these regulations is ‘Where hazardous waste is produced at, or removed from, any premises other than exempt premises, the premises must be notified to the Environment Agency’.
This means that any business producing hazardous waste has a legal duty to register with the Environment agency any premises where hazardous waste is produced. Each premises registered will be given a unique registration number known as a ‘premises code’. It should be noted however that this regulation does not fully apply to householders.
Premises exempt from notification, providing they produce less than 500kg in any 12 month period are:
- offices, to the extent that the hazardous waste arises from the use of the premises as an office,
- shops, to the extent that the hazardous waste arises from the use of the premises as a shop,
- agriculture premises, to the extent that the hazardous waste arises from the use of the premises for agriculture,
If any of the above premises produce more than 500kg in any 12 months, then they are no longer exempt, and must notify the Environment Agency.
The only other time that notification is not required for the premises that produce the waste is where a contractor removing the ACW has registered their main address and runs a mobile service. In this case, the contractor does not have to notify the Environment Agency that they run a mobile service. There are two restrictions to this rule.
- The contractor must not own or occupy the addresses from which they are removing the ACW.
- The contractor may not remove more than 500kg of ACW in any 12 month period from the non notified premises.
Contractors who regularly work with ACMs on domestic or agricultural buildings may find it worthwhile to be registered so that they do not have to register each site from where they remove ACMs. There is though the 500kg maximum in any 12 month period to be considered:
- 500kg equates to approximately 31 square meters of 6” roof sheeting, so a single and double domestic garage roof will most likely weigh less than 500kg. However, if the walls of a double garage are ACMs as well, then the total weight is likely to be in excess of 500kg. Almost every agricultural barn will include above 500kg of ACMs.
- For asbestos cement slates, 500kg is approximately 25 square meters of roof, so most house roofs of asbestos cement slates will be above the 500kg limit.
Ultimately, registration is probably only worthwhile for plumbers and other contractors who are only dealing with small quantities of waste.
Registration can be carried out by phone on 08708 502858 at a cost of £23.00, online from the Environment Agency at a cost of £18.00 or by post at a cost of £28.00.
Offices or shops ACW disposal
The ACW produced in offices or shops must also be consigned as soon as possible by a registered waste carrier to a dump licensed to accept ACW.
There is no need to notify the environment agency as long as:
- the ACW arises from the use of the premises as an office or shop, i.e. it was part of the construction of the building or its services and is being removed in a safe manner
- less than 500kg is removed in any 12 month period.
Where more than 500kg is produced in any 12 month period, then the Environment Agency must be notified (see above).
Agricultural ACW disposal
For the disposal of agricultural ACW, it is recommended to follow the same process as ACW disposal from shops and offices, with the following exceptions:
- the limit per year is 500kg
- it will be permissible to safely store ACW on site for up to I year
- the farmer can transport the ACW produced on his farm to the dump licensed to accept ACW, as long as the necessary consignment notes are completed and the ACW is kept correctly enclosed during transport.
Domestic ACW disposal
The following regulations apply to asbestos as domestic waste, but the regulations do not impose any obligations on a person who is the original producer of the waste and resides at the domestic premises where it was produced, or on a person who is acting on behalf of the resident and who does this without reward.
Specific examples of to whom this relates are:
- A householder who removes and disposes of ACW from their house to a civic amenity site.
- A neighbour who assists in removing such waste without payment.
This means that there is a difference between ACW produced by DIY and ACW produced by a contractor carrying out paid work on behalf of the house holder.
Disposal of domestic ACW produced during DIY
The Government has asked local authorities to make facilities available for the disposal of domestic ACW by setting up amenity sites where domestic ACW can be taken free of charge. If the local authority also sets up a collection service then they can and should charge a reasonable price for the service. In some cases it is the county council and in others the local authority that sets up collection points/amenity sites for domestic ACW. It is up to the householder to arrange for the materials to be delivered to the collection point.
Some local authorities set limits to the quantity of ACW that they will accept as DIY waste. Before the ACW is disposed of either by delivery to the amenity site or by collection, the ACW should be double wrapped in plastic, then plastic sealed and marked as asbestos waste
Some local authorities only use small skips for the ACW at their amenity sites and so will not accept objects that measure in excess of 180cm in length. This can be a significant issue, as many ACWs, such as gutters, flue pipes, rainwater pipes, soil pipes, roofing sheets, walling sheets, and so on exceed these dimensions.
This means that the householder must spend hundreds of pounds on a registered waste carrier to dispose of the product and notify the Environment Agency, or reduce the size of the ACW. However, the latter is not recommended as a viable option, as the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states that working with asbestos containing materials should be avoided wherever possible.
In situations where the ACW has to be reduced in size, one way of keeping the release of fibres to the minimum is to double wrap it in plastic sheeting and then break it in half with hammer blows along the centre line, attempting not to pierce the plastic. Still in the plastic, the ACW should then be folded along the break and wrapped and sealed in two more sheets of plastic for disposal.
Disposal of domestic ACW produced by a contractor
Where the ACW is produced by a contractor who is engaged by the householder to undertake any construction, modification, repair and maintenance or demolition of his premises, then the Regulations do apply to the contractor, and the Environment Agency must be notified.
The only exception to this is when the contractor is registered and the waste produced from the household in any 12 month period is less than 500kg.
The contractor will have to employ a registered waste carrier to consign the ACW to a site licensed to take it.
All other sources of ACW
ACW from all other sources must be consigned to a dump licensed to accept ACW by a registered waste carrier and have obtained a premises number from the Environment Agency.
Asbestos Disposal Summary
The majority of buildings built prior to 1985 and a considerable number of buildings constructed between 1985 and 2000 contain asbestos.
It is recommended that the majority of ACMs should not be removed by the householder.
Since few fitters, plumbers, building or roofing contractors have mobile registration, this will mean that some 100,000s of buildings in the UK will need to be registered with the Environment Agency over the coming years. This could change dependent on what local authorities will allow to be dumped by the ‘householder’ at their amenity sites.
There is also the risk that the number of instances of ‘fly tipping’ may increase if local authorities strictly enforce the regulation that any contractor working for a domestic client will need to notify and employ a registered waste carrier to remove the waste. A fitter, the majority of whom are not registered to carry waste, will require a skip on site to dispose of ACMs which will cost some hundreds of pounds. It is possible that the fitter will then attempt to charge the householder for the disposal of the ACMs, but instead actually take the ACMs and ‘fly tip’ them, pocketing the extra profit.
Any contractor you choose to hire will have to register your property with the Environment Agency. Unless the contractor is one of the few that runs a mobile service, they will also have to employ a registered waste carrier to take the ACM to a licensed dump; this large extra cost will of course have to be borne by the householder. In cases where the householder is disabled this could be seen to be counter to the Disability Discrimination Act.
If we examine the difference in cost of a householder taking down his own garage and taking the sheets to an amenity site, and employing a contractor to do the work for you, the difference is going to be some hundreds of pounds. This is a strong incentive for the householder to do the work alone, however, this is not in the best interest of Health and Safety. The taking down of a garage carries a number of associated risks, such as working at height, lifting heavy weights, premature collapse, asbestos dust and so on, which a competent contractor will be able to control far better than many DIY enthusiasts.