EPA uses a range of tools called ‘permissions’. These are licences, permits and registrations. A permission is EPA’s authorisation. It’s how we manage activities which may cause pollution and waste. The aim is to make it easier for businesses to meet their environmental obligations.

Whether you need a licence, permit or registration, depends on the level of risk and type of activity. The Permissions proposal pathway guideline (publication 1995) can help you work out which permission you need and how to apply.

From July 1 2021, some activities that didn't need our authorisation now need a permission because of the risk they could pose. For example:

  • temporary asbestos storage
  • small-scale tyre waste storage
  • dry cleaning.

Most of the waste industry needs a permission. This includes:

Understanding which permission applies to your activity

  • Licences are for high-risk activities

    Licences are our permissions tool for high-risk, high complexity activities. There are three types of licences. These are development licences, operating licences and pilot licences.

    When you need a development licence

    You need a development licence if you:

    • undertake an activity that would have needed a works approval before 1 July 2021
    • intend to develop a large or medium scale waste and resource recovery facility (WRRF).

    When you need an operating licence

    You need an operating licence:

    1. If you undertake an activity that would have needed a licence before 1 July 2021.
    2. If you operate a large-scale waste resource recovery (WRR) facility that:
    • receives or processes more than 4,000 tonnes of waste (including combustible waste) a month
    • stores more than 10,000 m³ of waste at any time.

    Under the Regulations, item 2 is known as ‘Waste and resource recovery – large (A13a)’. If you were doing this activity before 1 July 2021, you have until 1 October 2021 to apply for an operating licence.

    If you do not apply by 1 October 2021 and you continue to operate, you are breaking the law.

    If you are planning new activities, you must apply for a development licence before you apply for an operating licence.

    Get ready to apply – sign up to our new Portal.

    For more information, see Types of operating licences.

    When you need a pilot project licence

    Pilot project licences are for research, development or demonstration of a new technology or technique.

  • Permits are for medium-risk activities

    Permits are our permissions tool for medium-risk activities. Some activities that didn’t require an EPA permission or approval before 1 July 2021 will require a permit.

    You will need a permit if you:

    1. Undertake an activity that would have needed an EPA approval before 1 July 2021.
    2. Operate a municipal landfill servicing <5000 people (A05b). Apply for a permit by 2 January 2022.
    3. Operate a temporary on-site waste treatment facility (A19). Apply for a permit by 2 January 2022.
    4. Discharge or deposit of waste to aquifer (A18). Apply for a permit by 2 January 2022.
    5. Supply or use reportable priority waste (A16). Apply for a permit by January 2022.
    6. Containment of Category D waste soil (A17). Apply for a permit by 2 January 2022.
    7. Waste and resource recovery – medium (A13b). Apply for a permit by 1 October 2021. These are WRR facilities that:
    • receive and process more than 4,000 tonnes of waste (excluding combustible waste) a month
    • store more than 10,000 m³ of waste at a time.

    If your activity is one of these listed and you were doing this activity before 1 July 2021, you need to apply for a permit within the specified time. If you do not apply by the above dates and continue to operate without a permit, you are breaking the law.

    If you are planning new activities, you may need to apply for a development licence before applying for the permit (depending on the activity).  If you aren’t sure, you can complete and submit a Permissions proposal pathway form to EPA.

    Get ready to apply – sign up to our new Portal

    For more information, see Types of permits.

  • Registrations are for low-risk activities

    Registrations are our permissions tool for low-risk activities. You will need a registration if your activity includes any of these:

    • Other  waste treatment <500 tonnes ewaste (A02c)
    • Organic waste processing – small (A07b)
    • Waste tyre storage – small (A09b)
    • Reportable priority waste transport – other (A10b)
    • Waste and resource recovery – small (A13c). This is a WRR facility storing 5 to 5,000 m³ of waste (including combustible waste)
    • Temporary storage— biomedical waste (A21)
    • Temporary storage— asbestos (A22)
    • Temporary storage— designated waste (A23)
    • Glass works – small reprocessing (H05c)
    • Dry cleaning (L07)

    If your activity is one of these listed, you need to register by 2 January 2022. After this time, if you continue to operate without a registration, you are breaking the law.

    Get ready to apply – sign up to our new Portal.

Get help from EPA to choose the right permission

If you aren’t sure what type of permission you might need, you can complete and submit a Permissions proposal pathway form to EPA. Use the Permissions proposal pathway guideline (publication 1995) to help you submit it.

Completing the permission pathway process is not compulsory. It’s free and it’s to help you prepare your final permission application. It’s also not a formal or legal decision.

What laws mean for holders of old EPA licences, approvals or exemptions

Most activities that had a licence, approval or exemption will need a permission after 1 July 2021. EPA will transition all existing licences, approvals and exemptions to the Act by: 

  • contacting licence holders to explain the changes 
  • changing waste acceptance and treatment codes, and their conditions 
  • changing conditions to reflect the laws. 

This means: 

  • licences become operating licences 
  • permits and other approvals become permits or registrations 
  • many exemptions will need a permission.

Read more about permissions and licences

Permissions

Development licences

Operating licences

Pilot project licences

Permits

Registrations

How to apply for an A05b Municipal landfills servicing less than 5000 people permission

How to apply for an A13a/b Waste and resource recovery permission

How to apply for an A16 permission supply or use of reportable priority waste permission

How to apply for an A17 Containment of Category D waste soil permission

How to apply for an A18 discharge or deposit of waste to aquifer permission

How to apply for an A19 temporary onsite waste treatment permission

Reviewed 15 September 2021