If you manage or control priority waste, you have a legal obligation to classify your waste under the Environment Protection Act 2017

If you manage or control priority waste, you must understand your waste, including its nature, source and composition. This may include engaging suitably qualified professionals to help you classify your waste.

You must identify the most appropriate waste code or codes and waste classification under Schedule 5 of the regulations and the incorporated documents:

When a designation is issued

Designations are issued under the  Environment Protection Regulations 2021.  

You must meet strict criteria before we issue a designation. EPA only issues designations when:

  • managing the waste under the designation won’t pose a risk of harm to human health or the environment
  • you can’t classify the waste without one, for example, a contaminant that is not listed
  • not issuing one would place an undue burden on those managing or controlling the waste. 

We may also issue a designation of general application to classify the waste. When you apply for a designation, that designation applies only to you. A designation of general application applies to anyone managing waste under the circumstances covered by the designation. These are published on the public register.

When waste is unable to be classified

If the waste cannot be classified by this process, a designation is required.

The person who has the management or control of the waste must apply to EPA for a designation. 

Waste may be unable to be classified:
  • where EPA has not published a contaminant threshold
  • where new or unusual waste types are not adequately classified under regulations 61, 62, 66, 67 or 68 of the Environment Protection Regulations 2021.  

Designations are commonly required for:

  • disposal to landfill of  waste containing Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
  • naturally elevated constituents in soils, such as:
    • naturally occurring metals
    • naturally occurring fluorides.

For soils containing PFAS, only apply for a designation for disposal to landfill where:

Undue burden and designations

Undue burden may arise when:

  • waste classification under regulations 61, 62, 66, 67 or 68 would impose an undue burden on persons in management or control of the waste; and
  • if the Authority does not issue a designation there is no other practical solution for the waste stream.

Undue burden does not arise when:

  • Applying for a designation to obtain a classification with less waste duties. For example, applying for a designation to reduce waste tracking responsibilities.

When a designation is not suitable

If your waste can be classified, do not apply for a designation.

Pre-designated waste

Most waste types have been predesignated using waste codes. See Publication IWRG822 and schedule 5 of the Environment Protection Regulations 2021. If your waste can be classified, do not apply for a designation.


Determinations have been issued by EPA, including for aggregates and fill materials. If you can manage or control your waste in accordance with a determination, you do not need a designation.

How a designation works 

A manufacturer implements a new production system resulting in a waste which doesn’t clearly fit a description in Schedule 5 of the Environment Protection Regulations 2021. The waste producer classifies the waste using the criteria in Table 2 of the Waste Classification Assessment Protocol (publication 1827). It’s priority waste but there is no relevant waste code. In this situation, the waste producer should contact EPA to discuss if they need to apply for a designation.

You can find designations on the public register.

Lawful place and designations

A Designation does not make a site a lawful place. You must determine if you have lawful place for your waste, once you have: 

  • determined the waste classification,
  • identified a Determination your waste complies with; or
  • been issued a Designation.

See Check if you need a permission for more information about permissions or exemptions that may provide lawful place. 


How to apply for a designation

Contact us to discuss if you need a designation. If you do need one you can apply through the EPA portal. See How to apply for a designation for guidance on preparing your application. This includes guidance for applications for common types of designations:

  • Designations for soils with naturally elevated constituents;
  • Designations for waste containing PFAS for landfill disposal; and
  • Designations for immobilised waste.

Transition of specific classifications to designations

If you held a specific classification issued under r.11(1)(c) of the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009 (the IWR Regulations), it transitioned to the new legislation. Under the Environment Protection Transition Regulations 2021, a classification of specific application became a designation and was s valid until 30 June 2023. These designations are now expired.


Reviewed 24 July 2023