Part 1 of the Waste Classification Guidelines (PDF 599KB) explains six basic steps for classifying your waste. In brief, these steps are:
Establish if the waste is classified as special waste.
If the waste is not classified as special waste, establish whether the waste is classified as liquid waste.
If the waste is not classified as special waste or liquid waste, establish whether the waste is of a type that is ‘pre-classified’.
To simplify the classification process, a number of commonly generated wastes have been pre-classified as either hazardous, restricted solid, general solid waste (putrescible) or general solid waste (non-putrescible) in the waste classification definition section of Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act).
If the waste is not classified as special waste, liquid waste or pre-classified (as set out in Step 3), establish if the waste has certain hazardous characteristics and therefore is classified as hazardous waste.
These hazardous characteristics are set out in the definition of ‘hazardous waste’ in Schedule 1 of the POEO Act, and in Step 4 of Part 1 of the Guidelines.
If the waste has not been classified after Steps 1 to 4, it should be chemically assessed to determine whether it is hazardous, restricted solid or general solid waste (putrescible or non-putrescible). If the waste has not been classified after Steps 1 to 4 and is not chemically assessed under Step 5, it must be classified as hazardous waste.
If the waste is chemically assessed under Step 5 as general solid waste, a further assessment is available to determine whether the waste is general solid waste putrescible or non-putrescible. The assessment determines whether the waste is capable of significant biological transformation. If the waste is classified as general solid waste under Step 5 and this assessment is not undertaken, it must be classified as general solid waste (putrescible).
Rules for using the guidelines
In using the Waste Classification Guidelines to classify waste, the following rules apply:
- The steps for waste classification must be applied in the order presented above.
Once a waste’s classification has been established under a particular step, do not go to the next step.
The only exception to this is where special waste is mixed with restricted solid or hazardous waste. In these circumstances, the waste must be classified as special waste and restricted solid or hazardous waste, and managed as both of those classifications.
Otherwise, mixed waste must be classified according to the highest class of waste. For example, if a non-liquid waste contains three contaminants (other than asbestos, tyres or clinical and related waste) and only one of these contaminants is present at the concentration specified for hazardous waste, the waste must be classified and treated as hazardous waste.
- If an immobilisation approval applies to a waste, a generator who complies with the terms of that approval may classify that waste as set out in the approval, rather than the Waste Classification Guidelines.