Sustainable management of material cycles and waste
Draft Decree amending various provisions of Title X of the Decree of 5 April 1995 on general provisions on environmental policy and the Decree of 23 December 2011 on the sustainable management of material cycles and waste
The amendments in the draft include the following (non-exhaustive list):
Article 33(1). It shall be prohibited to mount structures such as solar panels, overlay roofs and advertising panels on or over roof or façade cladding that contains asbestos. It shall also be prohibited to enclose roof or façade cladding that contains asbestos or to cover it with other materials.
Installation of structures such as solar panels, layover roofs and advertising panels typically requires or causes damage to underlying roof or façade cladding that contains asbestos, in order to ensure proper attachment. With proper attachment to the roof or façade structure, it is difficult to avoid penetration of roof or façade cladding that contains asbestos with nails, drills or grinders or other breakage of this cladding. These methods cause the spread of asbestos dust and particles or cause damage to the roof or façade cladding that contains asbestos, as well as a risk of the spread of asbestos fibres in the future. Even in the absence of the intent to cause this kind of direct damage, the slightest disturbance to heavily weathered asbestos cement surfaces, such as from being walked or worked on, causes damage or releases asbestos fibres into the plaster as well as into the indoor and outdoor environment. The Flemish government is striving for accelerated removal of high-risk materials containing asbestos, such as roof and façade cladding made from asbestos cement. Attachment of structures onto and over this high-risk weathered roof and façade cladding is therefore not advised, in the interests of sustainability and careful management.
Article 33(2). It shall be prohibited to perform cleaning or moss removal on an asbestos cement roof and façade cladding.
The spread of asbestos fibres, the creation of emissions to humans and the environment and the abandonment of waste containing asbestos is already prohibited under the general provisions of environmental law. This provision explicitly sets out the precise activities that cause said emission of asbestos particles and fibres from an asbestos cement roof and façade cladding and residual waste containing asbestos in the environment of the roof or façade. These specific activities, possibly for the application of new coatings, include abrasion, brushing off or other removal of the top coat and/or of organic growth on an asbestos cement roof or façade cladding. The top part of the asbestos cement surface would be removed and disturbed. This would cause the spread of asbestos particles and fibres to the environment, such as due to the release of moss containing asbestos fibres in its roots. Heavy organic growth may be symptomatic of heavy weathering. Weathering of the cement matrix damages the surface, allowing organic growth, such as mosses and lichens, to grow on the roof or façade cladding.
Article 33(3). The Flemish government may set further rules on the management of rainwater run-off from asbestos cement roof or façade cladding to minimise impact on humans and the environment.
Rainwater run-off from weathered asbestos cement roof and façade cladding contains free asbestos fibres that may spread to the soil, waterways or the sewer system with every rainfall. This provision offers the Flemish government the option to impose management measures for this kind of rainwater run-off to minimise the impact on humans and the environment.
Article 33(4). The Flemish government may require provision of a proof of receipt on delivery of household waste containing asbestos to a natural person or legal entity that holds a waste disposal licence in accordance with Article 11 or to a registered waste trader or broker as referred to in Article 13.
This article allows the Flemish government to facilitate and harmonise the tracking of waste of household origin that contains asbestos by means of various collection channels. A proof of receipt already exists for industrial waste. A proof of receipt provides the holder of household waste containing asbestos with documentary evidence of proper removal and processing by a licensed establishment. The availability of a proof of receipt with information on the nature and amount of asbestos waste delivered also offers added value for future asbestos inventories.
Article 33(5). The owner of a public structure with a high-risk construction year shall be required to dispose of the following materials containing asbestos by 1 January 2034:
1° all easily accessible materials containing friable asbestos except for plasterwork containing asbestos on walls that pose a low risk, as referred to in Article 33(6)(3);
2° all roof and façade cladding, gutters, flues and rainwater drainage lines made from asbestos cement if they are located on the exterior.
This provision stipulates 2034 as the first interim milestone by which a series of specific materials containing asbestos must be removed from public structures, to set a clear example. Public structures have an intrinsic priority status because they are publicly accessible and heavily frequented. Public organisations such as government agencies must also lead by example with an accelerated transition to asbestos-safe structures. In this part, ‘removal’ of materials containing asbestos means taking them away or disposing of them. It does not have the meaning defined in Article 3(26°) of the Materials Decree, which is any activity other than recovery.
Article 33(6). Every owner of a public structure with a high-risk construction year is required to: 1° make the structure with a high-risk construction year asbestos-safe by 1 January 2040; 2° maintain it in asbestos-safe condition after 1 January 2040.
The new Article 33(6) sets 2040 as the absolute milestone by which all public structures with a high-risk construction year must be and remain asbestos-safe. ‘Asbestos-safe’ does not mean ‘asbestos-free’. It is not required to remove all materials containing asbestos by 2040. However, the continued presence of remaining materials containing asbestos cannot have any adverse impact on the health of occupants or users and cannot cause any environmental contamination.
Article 33(7). With the application of Articles 33(5) and 33(6), the owner shall always dispose of any and all materials containing asbestos that become easily accessible during maintenance, repair or dismantling works in structures, using the proper channels.
To achieve accelerated asbestos removal, this provision introduces the requirement to remove all materials containing asbestos that become easily accessible during the performance of works, regardless of the risk rating. The term ‘works’ is used in a very broad sense, and encompasses all maintenance, repair and dismantling works on structures. The basic principle here is that these works provide a natural impetus for efficient removal of the materials containing asbestos that become easily available at the time, without unreasonably high costs. This avoids the continued presence of materials containing asbestos and potential future difficulties or limitations this may pose for future owners and generations. It also links to the objectives of the removal policy.
Article 33(9). With the application of Article 33(14), the owner of an accessible structure with a high-risk construction year shall obtain a valid asbestos inventory certificate by 31 December 2031.
Article 33(10). § 1. An asbestos inventory certificate shall be obtained after preparation of an asbestos inventory.
§ 2. (...)
§ 3. An asbestos inventory shall be prepared by an asbestos inventory expert, as referred to in Article 33(16), in accordance with an asbestos inventory inspection protocol.
Paragraph 3 states that the asbestos inventory shall only be prepared by means of an onsite inspection in and around the structure with a high-risk construction year that is accessible to people, by an asbestos inventory expert certified for this as per Article 33(16). As a mandatory standard procedure, an asbestos inventory inspection protocol shall at least monitor for high-quality, uniform and reproducible preparation of asbestos inventories and define the inspection area at each site in and around the structure with a high-risk construction year that is accessible to people. The Flemish government shall determine the method for adopting the asbestos inventory inspection protocol.
Article 33(11). Once an asbestos inventory as referred to in Article 33(10) has been properly entered in the database, the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (‘OVAM’) shall issue an asbestos inventory certificate.
As soon as the asbestos inventory is fully and properly entered in the database that the OVAM developed for this, the application shall generate a unique asbestos inventory certificate as a uniform asbestos inventory report. This certificate shall include at least the asbestos inventory items indicated in Article 33(10).
Article 33(16). The asbestos inventory expert referred to in Article 33(10) shall be an independent expert certified by a certification body.
The Flemish government shall set the conditions for certification of asbestos inventory experts, the further quality assurance rules and the conditions for certificate use, suspension and revocation.
Certification bodies for asbestos inventory experts and associated quality assurance shall hold a recognition. The Flemish government shall determine the conditions and procedure for this recognition, the conditions and procedure for its suspension and revocation and the conditions for its use. The Flemish government shall also set the quality requirements and may designate a body tasked with verifying the recognitions of certification bodies.
To monitor the quality of asbestos inventory experts and to verify their expertise, a recognised certification body shall impose a certification requirement. In order to obtain certification, a prospective asbestos inventory expert must be able to demonstrate the required basic level of expertise in the identification and assessment of materials containing asbestos, or to acquire this level of expertise prior to obtaining the certification.