Three types of hazardous waste

The amount of hazardous waste in Australia is steadily trending upward. According to the report, Hazardous Waste in Australia 2021, in 2019-20 Australia generated around 7.4 million tonnes of hazardous waste, which is about 10% of all waste generated nationally (74 million tonnes). This has increased at a rate of 6.3% per year since 2014-15.

Asbestos and contaminated soil are major contributors of this surge with development and demolition projects. Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) wastes are an emerging environmental concern.

1. Asbestos

Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral that consists of flexible fibers resistant to heat, electricity, and corrosion. Because of this, asbestos was used prolifically in construction materials, until it was discovered how toxic exposure to asbestos was to human health. Inhaling or ingesting asbestos causes fibers to become trapped in the body which, over time, can cause inflammation, scarring and an incurable form of cancer called Mesothelioma.

Australia banned the use, sale or import of asbestos in 2003, however, many homes and buildings built or renovated before 1990 still contain asbestos.

It is important that qualified professionals conduct asbestos testing and if required, removal. In some cases, an asbestos management plan will be required to minimise the likelihood of any future exposure to asbestos fibres.

Hazardous waste Asbestos

2. Contaminated soil

Soil contamination is caused by the presence of anthropogenic chemicals in the soil. These pollutants can exist in the soil due to industrial activity, agricultural chemicals, chemical spills, and the improper management or disposal of waste.

Based on the level of risk posed to human and environmental receptors, national and state-specific guidelines stipulate the allowable level of contamination for specific land uses.

Contaminated soil

3. Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) wastes

PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals that are widely used in various industries due to their unique properties such as heat and chemical resistance, water and oil repellency, and non-stick properties. They are used in a wide range of products, including firefighting foams, non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, and food packaging.

PFAS waste can have a significant impact on the environment, as these chemicals are highly persistent and do not easily break down in the environment. They can accumulate in the soil, water, and air, and can be transported over long distances. When these chemicals are released into the environment, they can contaminate water supplies, harm wildlife, and pose a risk to human health.

PFAS

Waste management for your business

Douglas Partners’ highly qualified environmental consultants can assist clients with navigating complex environmental regulations whilst at the same time managing the impact of waste management issues on our natural resources. Our expert advice and cost-effective solutions for clients requiring waste management services are in the following areas:

  • Waste emission, inventory
  • Occupational Health & Safety audits
  • Waste minimisation
  • Liaison with regulatory authorities & communities
  • Waste stream assessments/audits
  • Resource recovery
  • Hazardous waste management
  • Waste management planning.

Contact your local Douglas Partners for waste management, contamination, and other hazardous materials services here.