Understanding the International and National Bans on Asbestos

Asbestos, once hailed for its resistance to heat and its insulation properties, has in recent decades been recognised as a severe health hazard. As a result, countries across the globe have implemented bans and stringent regulations surrounding its use, handling, and disposal. Malta, like many countries, has its regulations that align with international guidelines. This article aims to shed light on both the international and national bans on asbestos and emphasises the ever-evolving guidelines for its waste handling and disposal.

The International Stance on Asbestos

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have long recognised the severe health risks posed by asbestos. Exposure can lead to diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Recognising these threats, several international treaties and agreements have sought to limit or ban the use of asbestos. The Rotterdam Convention, for instance, lists asbestos among the hazardous substances whose import and export are to be controlled.

Furthermore, many developed nations, understanding the magnitude of the risks associated with asbestos, have put in place total bans. This growing international consensus has paved the way for tighter controls and regulations surrounding asbestos use and disposal.

Malta’s Position on Asbestos

In alignment with global trends and in its commitment to safeguarding public health, Malta has established a comprehensive set of regulations concerning asbestos.

The Ban: As a member of the European Union, Malta adheres to the EU Directive, which bans all forms of amphibole asbestos and restricts the use of chrysotile (white asbestos).

Handling and Disposal: The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) has set forth clear guidelines on asbestos handling and disposal. These guidelines emphasise:

  1. Identification and Assessment: Before any demolition or renovation, a thorough assessment must be conducted to identify any asbestos-containing materials.
  2. Professional Removal: Only licensed companies are permitted to handle and remove asbestos to ensure safe and proper procedures.
  3. Safe Transportation: Once removed, asbestos waste must be safely transported in sealed containers to licenced disposal facilities in Europe in line with EC Regulation 1013 of 2006.
  4. Disposal: Asbestos waste should be disposed of in purposely licenced facilities.  Malta ensures, via its competent Authority, the ERA, that all asbestos waste removed is properly disposed of in licenced facilities in Europe in line with EC Regulation 1013 of 2006.  Such facilities are equipped to handle such hazardous waste, preventing any environmental contamination.

The Evolution of Waste Handling and Disposal Guidelines

The past couple of decades have witnessed significant advancements in our understanding of asbestos hazards. Consequently, the guidelines for its waste handling and disposal have been evolving:

  • Increased Emphasis on Training: Today, there’s a greater stress on the importance of training personnel involved in the handling and disposing of asbestos, ensuring they’re equipped with the latest knowledge and techniques.
  • Technological Advancements: Modern techniques and equipment have been developed to enhance the safety and efficiency of asbestos disposal.
  • Awareness & Education: Public awareness campaigns have been instrumental in educating people about the dangers of asbestos and the importance of professional waste management.

Our Commitment to Asbestos Safety and Treatment Standards

Asbestos, despite its historical uses, poses significant health risks. Minding this, the international community and Malta have put in place stringent bans and regulations. The guidelines for waste handling and disposal have been continually refined, emphasising the importance of safety, training, and public awareness. As a leading waste management company in Malta, we remain committed to ensuring the safe and environmentally responsible disposal of asbestos, upholding both national and international standards.