Asbestos Disposal Management Plan – Factsheet

Last updated: 6 September 2021

Background and considerations

Why we created the Asbestos Disposal Management Plan

Asbestos was widely used in building materials. Later found to be harmful, it was banned in 2003. The ban is on the manufacture, supply, use, reuse, import, transport, storage and sale of all types of asbestos.

But many buildings built or renovated before 1990 still contain asbestos, and we need to make it easier and safer for people to dispose of asbestos once it has been appropriately removed.

Some Victorians currently find it inconvenient to dispose of asbestos as they may have to travel long distances to a licensed landfill, particularly for those living in regional areas. This can lead to mismanagement of asbestos and illegal dumping.

The purpose is to make it more convenient to dispose of asbestos by developing a network of both existing licensed landfills and new asbestos transfer sites. This will enable wrapped and sealed waste asbestos to be disposed of safely.

Timeframe of the Plan

The Asbestos Disposal Management Plan has a 10-year outlook and will guide our implementation over 3 years (2021/22 to 2023/24).

To support the work after 2023/24, we will develop a funding and support model. The model will consider:

  • the costs of asbestos disposal
  • sustainable funding opportunities
  • support for site operators and transporters in complying with regulations
  • alignment with Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s (EPA) new Waste Crime Prevention Directorate and the existing Illegal Waste Disposal Program
  • options for remote community areas where a 60-minute drive time is not practical.

Asbestos disposal infrastructure needs beyond 10 years will be considered in future Victorian Recycling Infrastructure Plans (VRIP). The VRIP is a long-term statewide plan that will ensure Victoria has a reliable and safe waste and recycling system to meet the needs of an expanding population and safely manage our waste.

Asbestos-contaminated soils

The Asbestos Disposal Management Plan does not cover infrastructure, systems and guidance for disposing of asbestos-contaminated soils.

The Victorian Recycling Infrastructure Plan will address infrastructure needs for contaminated soils, including asbestos-contaminated soils.

Impact of the new Waste Authority

The Plan is being implemented as part of Recycling Victoria, which also commits to establishing a Waste Authority.

Consultation on the Waste Authority and the new waste Act occurred in late 2020. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) will lead the next steps and will consider roles and responsibilities of relevant agencies when making recommendations.

For the timelines, details on the initial options and consultation, visit the Engage Victoria website.

Asbestos short-term storage and transfer sites (asbestos transfer sites)

These are sites that have the infrastructure to safely consolidate and store wrapped and sealed asbestos before it goes to a landfill. They will operate according to Environment Protection Authority Victoria and Worksafe regulations.

Due to regulations on disposal limits and logistics, the sites are not expected to accept significant volumes of asbestos.

Locations

Asbestos transfer sites are likely to be at existing waste facilities (such as transfer stations and resource recovery centres).

They will be chosen based on:

  • geographical needs over the next 10 years
  • consultation with local governments, private facility owners and operators, EPA Victoria, Waste and Resource Recovery Groups.

We will also work with councils to engage communities located close to potential sites as needed.

Operators and owners can choose whether to be part of the developed network

Involvement in the expanded asbestos disposal system will be voluntary and the decision to participate rests with the relevant local governments or private operators.

The Asbestos Disposal Management Plan has a 10-year outlook. We will be mapping where there is likely to be major gaps in accessible disposal options for Victorians. We will then work with relevant stakeholders where there is a geographic need to identify potential and appropriate sites.

Infrastructure required at the sites

The exact type of infrastructure has not been determined.

To decide on the infrastructure that the asbestos transfer sites need, we will:

  • pilot and test infrastructure options
  • engage with different stakeholder groups.

This will help to:

  • ensure safety and effectiveness
  • identify potential concerns, unexpected issues and barriers with implementation.

There will be funding to support infrastructure

Funding will be available to establish asbestos transfer sites at priority locations identified during consultation and mapping.

Funding will focus on:

  • priority sites – where a geographical gap in accessible disposal options has been identified
  • infrastructure specific to asbestos disposal – such as appropriate short-term storage covered skips.

The full scope of what infrastructure will be funded will be outlined as implementation progresses.

Managing the safety of workers and customers

The processes of managing asbestos onsite must:

  • be safe
  • minimise risks to staff, service providers, customers and the environment.

We will provide resources and support to facility operators and owners.

The asbestos disposal system will align with:

  • Environment Protection Act 1970 (the Environment Protection Act 2017 comes into force from July 2021)
  • Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004
  • Dangerous Goods Act 1995
  • other relevant legislation and regulations.

Informing residents

Sustainability Victoria will support local governments to communicate with their community about the asbestos disposal network.

Resources and support for facility operators and owners

To support best practice operations, we will develop resources including:

  • guidance materials
  • standard operating procedure templates
  • training
  • communication materials.

We will use advice from EPA Victoria, Worksafe and facility operators to develop these.

How existing licensed landfills can work with us

Those accepting asbestos now

We’re keen to work with landfill owners to:

  • understand the role they could play in future
  • make it more convenient for commercial and household removalists to dispose of asbestos.

Those not currently accepting asbestos

For areas where asbestos disposal sites are needed, we will discuss with stakeholders about potential amendments to EPA licence conditions for suitable licensed landfills.

Commercial asbestos removalists

“Commercial removalists” versus “householder removalists”

For the purpose of the Asbestos Disposal Management Plan (the Plan), commercial removalists are defined as:

  • Asbestos removalists licensed by WorkSafe Victoria to remove asbestos from buildings and properties (residential or commercial/industrial). There are two different licence categories – Class A and Class B asbestos removal work. There are about 300 licensed removalists in Victoria
  • Employers or self-employed persons who carry out limited asbestos removal work that doesn't require them to hold a licence under OHS regulations. For more information on legal responsibilities associated with removing and disposing of asbestos, see the Asbestos in Victoria page on Asbestos removal.

For the purpose of the Plan, household removalists are:

  • Private citizens/homeowners who remove non-friable asbestos from their own premises as part of renovating or refurbishing a home.

For more information about asbestos removal, visit the Asbestos in Victoria website.

“Commercial asbestos waste” versus “domestic asbestos waste”

Commercial asbestos waste: This is asbestos that has been wrapped and sealed and transported by a commercial removalist to an appropriately licensed or permitted facility for disposal.

Domestic asbestos waste: This is waste asbestos that has been wrapped and sealed and transported by a household removalist to an appropriately licensed or permitted facility for disposal.

Commercial removalists can use the sites for only small quantities

If you’re a commercial or licensed removalist, you can use the asbestos transfer sites for small quantities only. The exact amount is yet to be determined.

If you’re removing larger volumes of asbestos (for example, asbestos sheeting from an entire home), you will need to send it directly to an appropriately licensed landfill.