Monday 19 February 2024 

Management of Asbestos in New South Wales 

Thousands of people in our essential waste and resource recovery industry go to work every day determined to make a difference, determined to make safe and fit for purpose products for use in the community, committed to making a positive difference to the environment. 

Recycling facilities are quite unlike other manufacturing businesses in that the products we receive are not homogenous and that is why we rely heavily on all in the supply chain to do their best to not send material that could contain asbestos to recycling facilities. 

Asbestos is a challenging issue that must be managed and addressed by everyone in the supply chain. As NSW Health states “small quantities of asbestos fibres are present in the air at all times, and are being breathed by everyone without any ill effects. Most people are exposed to very small amounts of asbestos as they go about their daily lives and do not develop asbestos-related health problems.” 

Ideally material destined for recycling should be classified at the source to ensure anything not capable of being recycled - like asbestos - is not taken to a recycling facility in the first place.  

However, these sites and operators - just like our sites and facilities - often cannot see many of the chemicals and contaminants like asbestos that we all are trying to eliminate and avoid.   

The waste and resource recovery industry strongly believes that no generator intentionally sends asbestos to a recycling facility. 

Asbestos is a risk, however, just like the inherent risk involved in driving a car, it is a risk we all work hard to manage, mitigate and address. 

That is why since 2018/19 the NSW industry has worked closely with the NSW EPA to identify and manage closely this risk.  For example, NSW Construction and Demolition recycling facilities undertake three (3) visual inspections, including tipping and spreading and reviewing, before material is accepted. Facilities also undertake sampling and laboratory testing of source products to identify the presence of contaminants that are not allowed within the NSW resource recovery orders.   

The waste and resource recovery industry is completely committed to continually improving our operations, with significant investment in equipment to recent years to remove contaminants and improve quality.    

The waste and resource recovery industry is proud of the work we do in circulating material, however we can only manage the risk of asbestos by all working together across the entire supply chain to identify and remove the risk as early as possible.  

We remain committed to continuing to work with all in the chain, including the NSW EPA, to ensure only appropriate safe material is brought to recycling facilities and only fit for purpose material is made by our facilities.