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REMEX Recycling AG has been operating this facility – the first of its kind to be approved in Switzerland – in the city of Basel since the beginning of the year, providing a safe way to treat dangerous asbestos containing products. By getting this solution up and running, the company is spearheading the use of cutting-edge technology in its industry.
In the past, any friable asbestos removed during building renovation projects was placed into large double-lined bags and transported to landfills that were permitted to accept and store this material. However, this system had an element of risk as the bags could be damaged while being landfilled and result in the asbestos being released into the environment. With this in mind, most of the landfills in Switzerland no longer accept asbestos in big bags.
REMEX has been using its own treatment process since the beginning of the year to eliminate the danger of such asbestos pollution and ensure the material can be disposed of safely.
Asbestos was commonly used as a building material, for example for fireproofing, up until the 1980s.
The first step here involves removing any contaminants such as wood, paper, plastics and metals as well as any other materials used as part of the building renovation work. The leftover asbestos material is then transported to a mixer via an enclosed conveyor belt. A concrete slurry mix is created by adding dry mortar and water, which is subsequently poured into formworks where it can harden. The finished concrete blocks (ca. 0.6m3) are loaded into skips and transported to the landfill.
The new facility binds asbestos in concrete blocks that can be placed cleanly into – and retrieved from – a landfill’s storage area
So what’s special here? It is not only possible for the blocks to be placed cleanly into the landfill’s storage area, they can also be retrieved if necessary. This makes the landfilling process much safer and eliminates the danger of the asbestos escaping into the environment.
Stringent safety precautions have been implemented at the plant as handling asbestos involves considerable risks. The whole of the concrete mixing facility is located in a separate room that can only be accessed via a double door system. The mixer, conveyor belt and sorting station are enclosed and have negative pressure at all times. The material in the sorting unit is handled using gloves attached to glove ports. This means that the operatives, who also wear personal protective equipment during their work, never come into direct contact with the asbestos containing material.
Operatives must wear personal protective equipment and may only handle the material using gloves attached to glove ports