Information on this page is not current law. It details new laws that commence on 1 July 2021 under the Environment Protection Act 2017.

If you’re classifying priority waste  it may fall into one of the priority waste categories, sometimes called disposal categories.  

You need to identify the relevant priority waste category when you deal with: 

  • priority waste going to landfill
  • soil  that is priority waste.  

The priority waste category tells you which landfills can receive the waste, and the waste levy you need to pay for disposal at a landfill.

If you’re managing soil, the category also tells you if you can treat soil or contain it on a project site.

The priority waste category depends on how hazardous the waste is.

The priority waste categories

The priority waste categories are:  

  • Category A, the most hazardous 
  • Category B 
  • Category C  
  • Category D,  the least hazardous
  • soil containing asbestos only   
  • packaged waste asbestos. 

Category A is for the most hazardous wastes which can't go to landfill without treatment.  

Category A, B and C apply to all types of waste including soil. Category D  and soils containing asbestos only  apply only to soil. Packaged waste asbestos doesn’t apply to soil. 

Check Regulation 67 and Schedule 6 of the Environment Protection Regulations 2020  to find out more about the priority waste categories. 

The characteristics and thresholds for determining the priority waste category are in Waste disposal categories – characteristics and thresholds (publication 1828).

Occasionally the priority waste category can place an unfair burden on the person managing or controlling waste. In this case, contact us to discuss if you need a designation.

Find out more about how the priority waste categories apply to soil.

Waste levies

The priority waste category determines the waste levy. It costs more to deal with more hazardous waste types. 

The aim of waste levies is to discourage people from sending waste to landfill. If you deal with priority waste, you have a duty to investigate alternatives to landfill.

Learn more about the priority waste categories

  • Category A waste

    Category A is the most hazardous type of waste.

    Schedule 6 of the Environment Protection Regulations 2020 sets out which wastes are Category A. Regulation 67 specifies some wastes you must classify as Category A, even when they’re not Category A under Schedule 6.

    • you cannot send Category A waste to landfill
    • you can take Category A waste including soil offsite to a lawful place and treat it to reduce contaminants
    • treated waste may be reclassified as less hazardous Category B, C or D waste. You can then manage it under that category. 

    Category A soil

    Category A soil has contaminants:

     
  • Category B waste

    Schedule 6 sets out which wastes are Category B.

    For Category B waste other than soil, the waste code and type determine how you must manage it before it goes to landfill. The priority waste category only tells you which landfill it can go to.

    If you’re sending the waste to landfill, it must go to one authorised to accept Category B waste.

    Category B soil

    Category B soil has contaminants:

    Category B soil can be:

    • contained onsite
    • sent to a landfill authorised to accept it and taken offsite to a lawful place
    • treated to reduce the level of contaminants
    • treated waste may be reclassified as less hazardous Category C or D soil.
  • Category C waste

    Schedule 6 sets out which wastes are Category C.

    For Category C waste other than soil, the waste code and type determine how you must manage it before it goes to landfill. The priority waste category only tells you which landfill it can go to.

    If you’re sending the waste to landfill, it must go to one authorised to accept Category B or C waste.

    Category C soil

    Category C soil has contaminants:

    Category C soil can be:

    • contained onsite
    • sent to a landfill authorised to accept Category B or C soil
    • taken offsite to a lawful place and treated to reduce the level of contaminants

    treated waste may be reclassified as less hazardous Category D soil. You can then manage it under that category. 

  • Containing Category A, B and C soils onsite

    You can contain these soils onsite in volumes under 1000 m3. You must meet your general environmental duty to minimise risk of harm to human health or the environment. 

    You can store volumes greater than 1000 m3 onsite with an L02 licence. We may put a Site Management Order on the land title for ongoing management.

     
  • Category D soils

    Category D is a new priority waste category applying only to soil. Category D covers the least hazardous soils.

  • Soil containing asbestos only

    Soil containing asbestos only is a new priority waste category. Not all waste soil containing asbestos falls into this category.

    This category only applies to soil that:

    If the contaminant concentrations are higher, the soil is Category A, B, C or D. If the contaminant concentrations are lower but the soil contains asbestos, it is soil containing asbestos only.

    If you take reasonably practical steps to remove visible asbestos-containing material from soil, it’s not considered soil containing asbestos only. In this case it might be fill material.

    Managing soil containing asbestos only

    Soil containing asbestos only is reportable priority waste. It must go to a place authorised to accept it, known as a lawful place. Soil containing asbestos only can be:

    • contained onsite
    • sent to a landfill authorised to accept soil with asbestos.

    Soil containing asbestos only - containment

    You can contain this type of soil onsite in volumes under 1000 m3. You must meet your general environmental duty to minimise risk of harm to human health or the environment.

    You can store volumes greater than 1000 m3 onsite with an L02 licence. We may put a Site Management Order on the land title for ongoing management.

    Transporting soil containing asbestos only 

    Soil containing asbestos only is:

    • Reportable Priority Waste (transactions) – read more about Waste Tracker, due to launch in 2021
    • Reportable Priority Waste (transport), meaning you need to transport the waste in a permissioned vehicle.
  • Packaged waste asbestos

    Packaged waste asbestos is waste asbestos wrapped to stop airborne asbestos fibres from escaping. This helps with safe transport and disposal.

    This priority waste category doesn’t apply to soil containing asbestos.

    Managing packaged waste asbestos

    Packaged waste asbestos is reportable priority waste. You can only send it to a landfill authorised to accept asbestos.

    You can transport packaged waste asbestos to a site authorised to store asbestos. The site you take it to must have a licence or registration to store asbestos.

    Transfer stations and public utility depots can temporarily store less than 10 m3 of double wrapped non-friable asbestos  with a registration. The asbestos must go to a landfill authorised to accept asbestos within 60 days of arriving at the site.

    For more information on managing asbestos:

    Transporting packaged waste asbestos

    Packaged waste asbestos is:

    • reportable priority waste (transactions), meaning you need to track the waste 
    • reportable priority waste (transport), meaning you need to transport the waste in a permissioned vehicle .

    These requirements don’t apply if the net load is:

    • less than 50 litres
    • transported for no fee or reward.
     
  • Transporting priority waste

    Find out about your obligations when transporting soil.

    Mixing, blending and diluting priority waste

    You must not mix, blend, or dilute priority waste in a way which changes the waste classification. You can only do this if EPA issues a designation.

    There are times when mixing, blending or diluting priority wastes is part of a legitimate treatment process. EPA may issue a designation to allow this in certain circumstances.  This means you need to apply for a designation, or do so under a designation of general application issued by EPA.

    You must meet strict criteria before we issue a designation. You must demonstrate that:

     

Reviewed 30 March 2021