Managing waste asbestos

Last updated on March 26, 2024

Managing waste asbestos, including transporting and disposing of, from residential, industrial, commercial or institutional buildings, is within the ministry's jurisdiction, but the decision to remove asbestos from structures and the removal process itself is not.

Special techniques are required to remove asbestos safely. Building owners should contact a removal expert or be sure to follow all procedures in the WorkSafe BC handbook "Safe Work Practices Handling Asbestos." 

See the diagrams below for a summary of how waste asbestos can be managed based on its origin:

  • Homeowners
  • Industrial, commercial and institutional sources

More details about the content of the diagram are found below in the Frequently Asked Questions section. 

Click on each of the diagrams to open the link in a new window. 

Asbestos from homeowners

Diagram showing how homeowners manage asbestos

Asbestos from industrial, commercial and institutional sources

Diagram showing how asbestos from industrial, commercial and institutional sources is managed

Frequently Asked Questions 


Evaluating and characterizing waste

The owner of the waste is responsible for determining if the waste qualifies as hazardous waste or not. The owner may need to hire the services of someone with knowledge and experience to ensure that the material is properly sampled and characterized. If you find that the material is a hazardous waste, then the requirements under the Hazardous Waste Regulation (HWR) apply.

The HWR defines "waste asbestos" as a hazardous waste if the waste contains more than 1%, by weight, of asbestos fibres and the waste is either a powder/dust or friable, or asbestos fibres are no longer bound in a binder material/matrix. Non-friable asbestos wastes may become friable (fibres become loose from the matrix) during handling or transportation; in these cases, the waste will become hazardous waste.

Friable material containing asbestos may appear:

  • Fluffy or spongy (usually applied by spraying)
  • Irregular, soft surface (usually applied by spraying)
  • Textured, dense, fairly firm surface (usually applied by troweling)

Asbestos that is tightly bound within a solid matrix so that it is not easily crumbled by hand, is non-friable and is not a hazardous waste. The Regulation does not apply to non-friable materials such as hardboard, brake linings or woven cloth if they are not handled or processed to the point where the materials become friable (loose fibres); otherwise, they are hazardous wastes.

There are six (6) asbestos fibre types and these are divided into two (2) classes:

  1. Serpentine: with 1 type of fibre called chrysotile
  2. Amphibole: with 5 types of fibre called actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite and tremolite

Methods for characterizing asbestos fibres type and content

Manufacturer's information may provide the percentage of asbestos in the waste. If not, generators must take representative samples of friable asbestos and send to an accredited laboratory for analysis using the following methods:

  • NIOSH Method 9002, as amended from time to time, from the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods, 4th Edition, published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, United States
  • Director approved variance of a prescribed method as per HWR section 49 (2) and (3)

Characterizing waste is technical in nature, so you may wish to hire a qualified environmental professional. Search the phrase "environmental professional [your location]" or "occupational hygiene [your location],"  or contact a professional body such as Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia or the Canadian Registration Board of Occupation Hygienists.


Naming and labelling waste

Based on the waste characterization, you can handle the waste appropriately, fill out the waste information in the manifest form (shipping document) and label the bags or containers used for storage.

In practice, any waste that is waste asbestos is dangerous goods under the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations. Therefore, the naming of the waste under this federal regulation applies first:

  • UN 2590, ASBESTOS, CHRYSOTILE, class 9, packing group III
  • UN 2212, ASBESTOS, AMPHIBOLE (actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, tremolite), class 9, packing group II

Packaging or confining waste

There are specific requirements to confine waste asbestos during handling, storage and transportation. These are found in section 40(2)(b) of the HWR.

  1. Air dry containment technique such as
    • Packaging waste asbestos in a 6-mil plastic bag, sealed and then further packaged within a second 6-mil plastic bag and sealed
    • Packaging waste asbestos in a 6-mil plastic bag inside a non-reusable drum and then sealed
  2. Wet containment such as saturation of waste asbestos with water and containment in a non-leaking sealed drum or equivalent
  3. Other containment techniques must be approved by the Ministry’s director, in-writing

Note: woven bags are not approved to confine or contain waste asbestos as they are not air-tight. If you use woven bags (to hold more weight for example), you must also use any of the approved techniques described above.


Generators, including homeowners

Generator registration

Any person, partnership or company in B.C. must register as a generator of hazardous waste and obtain a BC Generator number (BCG#) if they produce and/or store on the generating site more than 1000 kg of waste asbestos at any given time or within a 30-day period. This applies regardless of the source is residential, industrial, commercial or institutional. Registration is site-specific, that is, it applies to the specific location, quantity and type of hazardous waste. See more information on generator registration on the Generator Registration webpage.

Generator requirements and exemptions

Generators of hazardous waste are exempt from some requirements if they store their waste on the site where it was generated (on-site), it is passive storage (placement, retrieval or inspection of the hazardous waste only), and they manage the waste asbestos in accordance with Part 6 of the Hazardous Waste Regulation (HWR). A director may re-apply any of the requirements for which an exemption was given if they deem it necessary. Anyone that does not meet the conditions for the exemption, needs to have other authorizations.

Part 6 of the HWR exempts generators from the following requirements:

  • Siting
  • (Design) plans & specifications,
  • Operational plan (similar to a permit)
  • Contingency plan
  • Closure plan
  • Posting of financial security
  • Various operational requirements

However, if all the conditions are not met, those requirements will automatically apply. A summary of these conditions, found in HWR section 40(2), is described here:

  1. Properly characterize and sample waste, using the applicable analytical method specified in the HWR or approved by a director
  2. Confine the waste during handling, storage and transportation, using the approved techniques described earlier
  3. Send the waste to an approved, authorized landfill where the owner of the disposal facility has agreed to accept this waste and the waste is buried with 0.5 m of cover material at that landfill

The generator must also ensure that:

  • Anyone transporting more than 5 kg of waste asbestos must have a valid licence to transport specifically for asbestos, issued by the ministry unless the carrier has explicit exemptions from having a valid licence
  • The receiving site (including temporary or intermediate storage sites, transfer stations and landfills) has the authorization to receive waste asbestos
  • A manifest form is used for the transportation of more than 5 kg of waste asbestos, unless otherwise explicitly exempted (refer to the section “Transporting Waste Asbestos”, below, for more information)
  • The generator completes Part A of the manifest and submits Copy 1 of the manifest to the B.C. government (address at the back of the manifest)
  • The generator ensures that they received a completed Copy 6 of the manifests from the receiver
  • The generator keeps Copy 2 of the manifest, together with Copy 6 on file for at least 2 years of the shipment
  • The generator keeps records of registration, waste characterization report and analytical data results on file to show their due diligence

Local governments such as municipalities and regional districts may have additional bylaws or policies that must be met, such as building/renovation permits, etc. Please check with your specific local government to know if there are other requirements you must meet while generating, handling or disposing of waste asbestos.


Homeowner’s Guide to Managing Waste Asbestos

The following guidance will assist homeowners in the handling, transportation and disposal of waste asbestos to meet the requirements of the Hazardous Waste Regulation if the waste is classified as hazardous waste (“waste asbestos”).

This guidance does not apply to industrial, commercial or institutional sources of waste asbestos. Companies whose businesses are involved with “houses” do not fit in the category of homeowners. A “homeowner” is a person who is the owner of a fully detached dwelling who lives in or intends to live in that dwelling as a permanent residence. For strata properties, a homeowner is the owner of a freehold estate in a strata lot with a dwelling (for example, a condominium) who lives in or intends to live in that dwelling as a permanent residence.


Disposing asbestos waste

You may dispose of waste asbestos in a third-party hazardous waste (secure) landfill, a municipal solid waste landfill, an intermediate facility or a transfer station if they are authorized to receive and dispose of the waste asbestos.

You may wish to first check with your local government (city, municipality or regional district) to see if your closest municipal solid waste landfill accepts waste asbestos and if they have specific requirements you need to meet. These landfills may have local bylaws that require the use of a shipping document or manifest, even if you are exempted under the provincial Hazardous Waste Regulation. They may require laboratory analysis reports or may book a time for you to bring your waste.

To find a third-party hazardous waste management facility closest to you, you can search online or consult your phone book. You can also contact organizations that may have lists of facilities such as the BC Environmental Industry Association, Waste Management Association of BC, Coast Waste Management Association, Air & Waste Management Association, Solid Waste Association of North America.

Once you have a few names of possible disposal facilities or intermediate facilities, you can confirm if they have the appropriate authorizations to receive waste asbestos using the following methods:

  1. Ask the facility operator for a copy of their authorization (issued by this ministry) or​
  2. Check the ministry’s database:

Some landfills do not accept waste asbestos or certain types of wastes that contain asbestos (for example, drywall).  A landfill may not accept drywall because the conditions in the landfill (climate, location, operations) make it unsafe or detrimental to have drywall disposed at that location.

If waste asbestos is sent abroad, the exporter must obtain an export permit from Environment and Climate Change Canada.


Contractors and agents

A contractor may act on behalf of a waste asbestos owner or generator. If acting as an agent to the generator, the contractor must also ensure that the generator’s responsibilities or requirements under the Hazardous Waste Regulation are being met.

For generator registration, the registration belongs to the generator and applies to the waste generating site. The registration does not belong to the contractor or agent. The contractor or agent may not register themselves as generators on behalf of a generator; a contractor or agent may complete the “paperwork” on behalf of the generator.

The exemptions for the generator do not apply to the contractor or agents; for example, contractors may not act as a generator or on behalf of a generator when transporting hazardous waste for the generator – the transportation exemptions do not apply to contractors or agents.


Transporting waste asbestos

Anyone who transports more than 5 kg of waste asbestos must have a licence to transport waste asbestos and use a manifest issued by the BC Government unless exemptions have been granted in the regulation. The person transporting the waste asbestos must send it to a facility that is authorized to receive and store this hazardous waste. 

A licence to transport hazardous waste does not authorize the storage of hazardous waste. Be aware that the storage of waste asbestos by a carrier requires a storage authorization, regardless of the amount of time the waste asbestos is being stored. If your waste is being shipped but not delivered straight to the intended authorized receiving, any intermediate, short term storage would be illegal unless that intermediate facility has the authorization to receive and store waste asbestos.

Other possible applicable regulations

If applicable, you must meet the transportation requirements from other regulations as well.

The federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations, which is administered by Transport Canada, also regulates the transportation of waste asbestos.  Therefore, anyone transporting waste asbestos must also meet these federal laws.

The federal Inter-provincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations regulates waste asbestos shipped to other provinces in Canada.

The federal Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations regulate waste asbestos shipped to the United States or other countries.

Transportation exemptions

There are two (2) exemptions given for transportation and they have their own conditions.

  1. An exemption from the transport licence is available if:
    • Transportation is only within the boundaries of the property owned, leased or controlled by the person who stores or generates hazardous waste;
    • The waste asbestos is transported by the generator (residential, industrial, commercial, institutional sources) and the quantity is less than 1000 kg;
    • Note: A manifest is still required, even if you are exempt from a transport licence. This transport licence exemption does not apply to contractors, agents or 3rd party carriers
  2. An exemption [HWR Section 46(2)(c)] from having a licence to transport hazardous waste and from the use of manifest is available only to a homeowner or farmer if they take their own waste asbestos from their home or farm directly to a facility operated by the government or municipality or an agency of the government or municipality, using a vehicle registered under their name
    • Note 1: A house owner is not entitled to the exemption under section 46(2)(c) unless that person is the owner of the house and lives permanently in the house from which the waste asbestos was generated and is being removed. A “homeowner” is a person who is the owner of a dwelling who lives in or intends to live in that dwelling as a permanent residence. In the case of strata properties (such as, condo, duplexes, townhouses), a homeowner is the owner of a freehold estate in a strata lot with a dwelling who lives in or intends to live in that dwelling as a permanent residence
    • Note 2: This exemption does not apply to generators or owners of waste asbestos from industrial, commercial or institutional (ICI) buildings or sources. Examples of ICI buildings are: hotel being renovated/demolished, seniors/retirement community/residence, apartment building
    • Note 3: this exemption does not apply to contractors, agents or 3rd party carriers regardless if they are acting on behalf of the homeowner
    • Note 4: even if you are exempt from a manifest, you must still have and complete a shipping document as waste asbestos is a dangerous good. The federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations requires a shipping document containing the same information as in a manifest

Many landfills require the use of the B.C. manifest, even if it is not required by the HWR. It is within the receiving site’s right to ask for additional requirements to be met if what they request is not in contravention of provincial or federal requirements. 


Receiving or storing waste asbestos

Any person, partnership or company in B.C. must register the waste asbestos and their operations, and obtain a Registered site number (RS#) together with approved plans for their facility if they

  • Store at any time more than a 1000 kg of waste asbestos generated from a location that is not the actual generating location, or
  • Treat, recycle or dispose of more than a 1000 kg of waste asbestos in any one-day period (regardless of the location)

Receiving sites, such as transfer stations, temporary storage sites, intermediate storage sites, recycling sites, disposal sites and landfills, must have the authorization to receive hazardous waste generated off-site. This authorization is in the form of approval for the Operational Plan, Contingency Plan, etc. For more information on the authorization process and how to obtain the applicable authorizations, please see the ​ Waste Discharge Authorization Website.

Local governments such as municipalities and regional districts may have additional bylaws or policies that must be met, such as building/renovation permits, landfills requirements, etc. Please check with your specific local government to know if there are other requirements you must meet while handling, storing or disposing of waste asbestos.

Guidance for authorizations

These documents aid any person, partnership or company in B.C. that is required to submit and obtain the director’s approval for an operational plan, a contingency plan, a closure plan and the facility’s design plans & specifications.


Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (OHS) requirements

WorkSafeBC is responsible for administering and enforcing the Workers Compensation Act (the Act) and the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation, both of which set out legal requirements that apply to workplaces in BC.  The Act and OHS Regulation contain mandatory employer licensing and worker certification requirements that apply to those who transport and dispose of asbestos waste from buildings. 

It is important to note that there are differences between the OHS regulation and the Hazardous Waste Regulation, including:

  • Each regulation has different thresholds for asbestos content above which the waste becomes regulated. More specifically, the percentage of asbestos in the OHS regulation above which waste becomes regulated is 0.5% by weight, whereas, under the Hazardous Waste Regulation, it is 1% asbestos fibres by weight
  • Sampling procedures and laboratory analytical methods are also different

The standard within the two regulations is different due to the purpose of the regulations. The OHS regulation is focused on worker’s health and safety, whereas the Hazardous Waste Regulation is focused on ensuring that asbestos is contained, transported, and disposed of (e.g., landfilled) appropriately.

Where the HWR and OHS Regs are different, a regulated party must meet all the applicable requirements in both regulations. It is important to consider the OHS regulations even if you don’t have any workers handling asbestos. For example, workers handling the asbestos waste at a landfill or a receiving site.

Worksafe BC has additional resources that are useful when handling asbestos regardless if it is done by workers or non-workers:

For additional information, See Part 6, section 6.1 to 6.32 for Asbestos in the OHS Regulation

Report Pollution

Call 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.

If the situation is not an emergency, report the incident online or contact the nearest Conservation Officer Service district office.