UK firm leads the world in diverting asbestos away from landfill

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It’s not often we get to say this, but we heard some genuinely uplifting news about asbestos a few weeks ago.

A firm in Wolverhampton, called Thermal Recycling, has opened the world’s first plant for environmentally responsible asbestos disposal.

The company uses a scientific process called denaturing to convert materials containing asbestos into a new asbestos-free material. It then produces a sustainable aggregate for the construction industry using the new material.

Until now this process has only been possible in laboratory conditions. Thermal Recycling is the first business in the world to be able to apply this process to asbestos waste on an industrial scale in a commercially viable and environmentally safe way.

Unsurprisingly, this development has not happened overnight. The firm carried out its first tests with asbestos back in 2008 when it developed a technique to denature asbestos on an industrial scale. It has gone on to invest millions of pounds and worked tirelessly to develop the right technology and processes to eliminate asbestos reliably and cost effectively and also to understand the substance that is safely produced by its treatment.

Currently the firm only accepts asbestos roof sheets containing chrysotile but it is working on plans that will enable it to increase the type and forms of asbestos that it can accept.

This is truly fantastic news and I think we can all be genuinely proud to see a UK firm leading the world in this ground-breaking way.

This process will not only divert asbestos away from landfill it will also help to contribute to a more sustainable construction industry.

Asbestos waste

Anyone who has had any experience of dealing with asbestos will know there are very tight regulations in place in the UK about how and where it should be disposed.

Asbestos waste includes asbestos products or materials, contaminated building materials, dust, rubble, used tools that cannot be decontaminated, disposable PPE (personal protective equipment) and damp rags that have been used for cleaning.

In order to dispose of asbestos safely it must first be placed in suitable packaging, to prevent any fibres being released, and should be double wrapped and appropriately labelled. Standard practice is to use a red inner bag – marked up with asbestos warning labels – and a clear outer bag with appropriate hazard markings. Intact asbestos cement sheets and textured coatings that are firmly attached to a board should not be broken up into smaller pieces. These should instead be carefully double wrapped in suitable polythene sheeting (1000 gauge) and labelled.

Asbestos waste should only be handled by a licensed disposal site. Your local authority can provide details of these.

It also needs to be transported to these sites in suitable containers that prevent the release of any asbestos fibres while in transit. Further detailed information on the disposal of asbestos waste is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

It is reassuring that there are tight laws governing the disposal of asbestos in this country because they are there to keep us safe but it doesn’t change the fact that when we’re talking about disposing of asbestos we mean that is going to end up in landfill.

It is obvious that it is not a sustainable solution to keep dumping a highly hazardous material like asbestos into landfill forever – no matter how securely it is packaged. That is why the news from Thermal Recycling is so exciting.

Do you need help dealing with your asbestos?

If you’re dealing with asbestos, remember that it is a dangerous substance and exposure to it leads to thousands of deaths in the UK every year.

Projects that involve potentially working with asbestos are often out of the comfort zone of the main works that are being undertaken. Whether it is the refurbishment of an area, demolition or a stand-alone piece of work, the route to full compliance with asbestos legislation can be daunting.

Understanding and undertaking your duties can be an equally daunting task, let alone the small matter of getting the right job done for the right price in the right time scale.

Asbestos removal management can save you time and money in addition to making sure you are fully compliant.

At Acorn, we provide fully encompassing asbestos removal management from initial concept through the certified completion. We provide an asbestos expert to be your point of contact to guide you through your asbestos removal project and because we don’t undertake asbestos removals inhouse you can be confident we are giving you the best independent and impartial assistance for any asbestos works required.

Acorn is a professional asbestos consultancy helping organisations deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos air testing, and asbestos removal management. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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