Asbestos is best known for its use as insulation and as a building material found in many older properties across the country. Asbestos is classed as a hazardous material and can only be disposed of at certain locations in Australia.
Asbestos must never be put in your household recycling or waste bin. Asbestos is toxic and should always be handled by a licensed professional. If you are unsure about the presence of asbestos on a site for renovation, construction, or demolition, organise a licensed professional to inspect the site and safely manage the disposal of any asbestos found.
What is asbestos?
- Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral rock that was mined in Australia from the 1940s to late 1980s. Asbestos was used in a variety of products and materials, most commonly in the construction, car manufacturing, and textile industries.
- From the 1940s until the late 1980s, fibro was one of the most commonly used building products. Fibro products made before 1987 contained around 15% asbestos.
- Fibro was widely used as wall and ceiling sheeting in houses, workplaces, and government buildings because of its strength and resistance to chemicals and heat.
- Asbestos can be found in many areas inside and outside the home including sheds, fences, roofs, gutters, kitchens, and bathrooms. If you are unsure if your home contains asbestos, you can hire a licensed professional to inspect your home.
- According to the NSW EPA, most asbestos within the home is safe, provided it is not damaged or disturbed.
Why should I dispose of asbestos responsibly?
Asbestos is made up of tiny fibres that, if disturbed, can be released into the air and may be inhaled into the lungs causing devastating health effects and even death. Importantly, only fibro products made before 1987 contain asbestos.
Asbestos is classified as a hazardous material. Under environmental protection laws it is an offence to pollute the environment with asbestos waste or to unlawfully dispose of asbestos waste. You can be fined for placing asbestos waste in household garbage or recycling bins, or illegally dumping asbestos products. Asbestos should always be handled by licensed professionals and taken to designated locations for safe disposal.
How to dispose of asbestos
Asbestos waste can only be disposed of at specified landfill sites, so it is important to contact the landfill beforehand to check if the material is accepted and any special requirements for delivery. Many landfill operators require a booking to be made, as careful handling and greater supervision of the waste is required to prevent the release of asbestos fibres into the air. Use the directory on this page to find a safe disposal location near you.
Licensed asbestos removal companies can be hired to remove asbestos waste from your home, workplace, or construction site for safe disposal. If the amount of asbestos materials or products to be removed is less than 10m2, an asbestos removal certificate is not required but strict guidelines must still be adhered to (a licence is still required for residents in the Australian Capital Territory).
When handling asbestos, wearing the right protective gear is important, but it is not enough to fully protect you and others. Specific equipment and methods must be used to prevent asbestos contaminating everything around you. In many circumstances, it is easier and safer to engage a licensed professional to remove the asbestos for you. For tips on how to safely handle asbestos, use the Australian Government’s Asbestos Safety guide for homeowners.
What happens to the asbestos when it's removed?
All asbestos waste must be wrapped in two layers of plastic no less than 200µm (0.2mm) thick before being transported. Once it has been taken to an approved landfill, it will be buried. The waste is compacted by machinery only after it has been covered with a layer of general waste.