UK house builder becomes first to divert asbestos away from landfill

worker-6544391_1920

We’ve heard some fantastic news about asbestos in the UK during the past few days.

Leading developer Lovell has become the first UK house builder to actively tackle the challenge of asbestos waste. The firm is collaborating with Wolverhampton-based Thermal Recycling to safely package and convert asbestos waste into a safe and reusable cement substitute.

You may remember that back in June we published a blog about Thermal Recycling opening 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.

Lovell has now completed a pilot project under a licence from the Environment Agency with Thermal Recycling, which saw 25 tonnes of asbestos removed from three demolished buildings at Lovell’s Castleward development in Derby city centre.  

Lovell has pledged to move towards to reducing the amount of asbestos going to landfill and feels that its collaboration with Thermal Recycling is a great step in its approach to the circular economy, ensuring materials are recycled and reused rather than taken to landfill.

We are thrilled to see UK businesses, leading the way, doing things differently and actively thinking about asbestos and their environmental impact.

The reason this development is so significant is that the UK construction industry’s heavy reliance on asbestos in the 20th century means asbestos waste is still causing us a huge headache today.

Until the ban in 1999, there were more than 3,500 different products containing asbestos, including floor tiles, artex and a variety of cement products, all of which were used in buildings all over the country. This means most of the homes and public buildings in the UK will contain asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs) – either in the original building or in parts of the building that have been refurbished.

The problem with this is that asbestos which is not well managed poses a huge risk to health and can cause deadly conditions, such as the cancer mesothelioma.

There are very strict rules when it comes to disposing of asbestos waste in this country to protect people from the dangers it poses and asbestos waste removal should be left to professionals who are fully equipped and trained to deal with this hazardous substance.

However, no matter how safely and securely asbestos waste is disposed of, if it is going into landfill it is going to cause problems for us in the future.

Five years ago, The Independent ran a feature in which leading academics warned that Britain was facing a ‘toxic timebomb’ from landfill sites at risk of leaking dangerous substances such as asbestos because they were in danger of flooding or coastal erosion.  

A study at the time revealed that 2,946 of the UK’s ageing dumps were in flood plains and of those 1,655 contain dangerous materials such as asbestos, according to calculations by Dr Daren Gooddy of the British Geological Society (BGS).

Dr Gooddy said he was particularly concerned about these sites because they were unlikely to have a protective lining as they predate the EU waste regulations that were introduced in the 1990s. Many sites will be protected by flood defences but experts were concerned that others are not adequately protected. Dr Gooddy added that furthermore historic landfill sites across the country posed a risk to their surroundings, even if they didn’t flood, because they could still discharge waste that eventually washes into the waterways.

Extreme care has to be taken when disposing of asbestos in landfill site but even when this is achieved ‘successfully’ in reality all we’re doing is saving up yet another headache for ourselves for a future day.

The more companies which followed the lead of Lovell and Thermal Recycling and come up with innovative ways to tackle the long-term problem of asbestos the better.

In the meantime, it is imperative that people are fully aware of the asbestos contained within their sites and manage it correctly to prevent it from deteriorating. This is important because it will save lives and because if you are responsible for a site or property it is your legal duty to make sure your asbestos is managed correctly.

If you’re not sure if you are complying with asbestos laws you can book a free asbestos review surgery with our commercial manager Sian Stone by clicking here

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.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Acorn Lower Service 55

What happens when asbestos goes wrong?

What happens when asbestos goes wrong? Every day there are incidents with asbestos that could have easily been avoided. Here we have highlighted recent incidents that have been highlighted in the press during January 2013: Engineering Company and Building Company Fined In January two companies had to pay just under £30,000 pounds in costs and fines … Read more

Asbestos Awareness

Is asbestos an issue for employers in 2013?

Answer: Yes it is. A lot of people are still surprised to find out that asbestos is an issue within the UK. The last set of figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 4,759 people are currently dying each year from various diseases related to asbestos exposures. This figure has increased … Read more

Asbestos removal 2

Acorn Help Raise Money for Help The Heroes

Saturday 4th May 2013 saw the second Tough Mudder event at Boughton House, Kettering. Taking part and helping to raise money for Help The Heroes was Acorn Analytical Services Director – Neil Munro. Tough Mudder® events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, determination, and camaraderie. … Read more

Acorn Lower Service 39

Firms fined for asbestos exposure risk at scrap yard and naval training base

A number of workers and Royal Navy personnel were exposed to asbestos after pipes lined with the dangerous material were left on a roadside before being put in an open skip and transferred to a salvage yard, a court has heard. The pipes, lined with asbestos insulation, were removed from HMS Sultan naval training base … Read more

DSCF0003 1024x764 1

Council in court for ignoring asbestos threat in school

Thurrock Council has been fined after admitting to failures in how it managed asbestos across its schools. Basildon Crown Court heard today (1 March 2013) that despite being made aware of asbestos concerns in a boiler room at Stifford Clays Junior School, no action was taken. A specialist contractor tasked with carrying out an asbestos … Read more

Asbestos demolition 3

Building owner fined for asbestos exposure

An industrial property owner has been prosecuted for exposing untrained workers to dangerous asbestos fibres following a series of failings at a building in Newport. In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court heard today (21 February) that Mr Nasimul Karbani, from Middlesex, employed two workers and then helped … Read more

Management survey 1

Hospital trust in court for asbestos failures

A North East hospital trust has been fined after contractors were unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres at Sunderland Eye Infirmary. Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard today that over the weekend of 24/25 March 2012, contractors at the infirmary on Queen Alexandra Road drilled through door surrounds on a ward to install cables. The following day concerns … Read more

Acorn Banners 23

Swansea engineering firm and building contractor fined for asbestos exposure

Workers were exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres following a catalogue of errors by an engineering company and a building firm during a demolition and refurbishment project in Swansea, a court has heard. The project was badly managed, with untrained staff put in charge of the operation, and was underpinned by inadequate surveys for the presence … Read more