Classifying waste soil before transportation
Classifying waste soil helps you determine the waste code and type before transportation. Refer to our Guide to classifying industrial waste (publication 1968) to help you classify the waste.
To meet your priority waste duties, you must classify priority waste soil in accordance with the:
- Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act)
You need to determine the priority waste category if soil is going to landfill. The priority waste categories for soil are Category A, B, C , D and soil containing asbestos only. The priority waste category tells you which landfill the soil can go to, and which waste levy applies.
Priority waste categories for soil
The priority waste category tells you which landfills can receive waste, and the waste levy you need to pay.
If you are managing soil, the priority waste category also helps you decide what you can do with it. For example treating it or containing it on a project site.
There are two priority waste categories that apply only to soil:
- Category D soils
- soil containing asbestos only.
Categories A, B and C may also apply to soil.
When to determine the priority waste category for soil
If waste soil comes from contaminated land , determine the priority waste category as soon as possible after it’s dug up.
For waste soil from another site, or waste soil not from contaminated land, determine the category before transporting soil.
You may need to sample soil to classify and categorise it correctly.
Follow EPA guidance to make sure you use a consistent approach when taking soil samples. Refer to Soil sampling (IWRG702) to find out about:
- preliminary site investigations
- the number of samples required for the volume of soil
- suggested sampling grids
- calculation procedures.
Check the contaminant or leachable concentration thresholds in Waste disposal categories – characteristics and thresholds (publication 1828) to determine the priority waste category.
Waste levy for soil
A levy applies when sending waste soil to landfill. The more hazardous the soil is, the higher the cost of disposal.
Learn more about managing waste soil
Category D is a new priority waste category applying only to soil. Category D covers the least hazardous soils.
Category D soil has contaminants:
- greater than the upper limit for fill material on Table 3 of Waste disposal categories – characteristics and thresholds (EPA publication 1828)
- below the upper limit for Category D on Table 2 of the same publication.
Category D can be:
- contained or reused onsite or on a project site
- treated to lower its contaminants so it becomes fill material
- sent to a landfill authorised to accept Category B, C or D soils.
Containing and using Category D soil
Category D soils can be contained or used onsite or within a project site. When managing Category D waste soil, you must meet your general environmental duty to minimise risk of harm to human health or the environment.
You can use Category D soils within a project site by containing them in accordance with an A17 permit. For example, the EPA permit may allow you to use the soil in engineered railway and freeway embankments, or under roads and footpaths.
Where Category D waste soil has been used or otherwise contained, we may put a site management order on the land title for ongoing management.
Defining a project site
The Environment Protection Regulations 2021 define a project site as any land EPA specifies in a permit that is:
- A single area of land that’s part of an amendment to a planning scheme under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. This applies on or after 1 July 2021.
- Relates to public works within the meaning of the Environment Effects Act 1978.
Disposing of Category D soil
You can dispose of Category D soils at landfills authorised to receive Category B, C or D soils.
Treating Category D soil
You can treat Category D soils to lower the level of contaminants. The treated soil could then be classified and managed as fill material.
Transporting Category D soil
Category D soil is:
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:
- contains asbestos
- doesn’t have contaminant concentrations greater than the upper limit for fill material in Table 3 of Waste disposal categories – characteristics and thresholds (EPA publication 1828).
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 practicable 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
- 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.
Transporting soil containing asbestos only
Soil containing asbestos only is:
Fill material is soil with extremely low levels of contamination. It’s considered safe to use without containment. For example, you can use it to level land or fill pits.
Fill material is industrial waste, but not priority waste.
Determining if soil is fill material
You may need to sample and analyse soil to determine if it’s fill material. Use Soil sampling (IWRG702) to take consistent soil samples.
Fill material has contaminant concentrations below levels in Table 3 of Waste disposal categories – characteristics and thresholds ( publication 1828).
You must test for all contaminants you know and reasonably expect to be in the soil. You might need to test for contaminants not listed in Table 3. If you find other contaminants in the soil, it may not be fill material.
Managing fill material
Transporting fill material
You don’t need a permission to transport fill material. You also don’t need to track it.
You do need to meet your general environmental duty to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment.
Acid sulfate soils are naturally occurring soils, sediments or rocks containing metal sulfides. The most common metal sulfides are pyrite and iron monosulfides.
Acid sulfate soils without exposure to oxygen are potential acid sulfate soils.
After exposure to oxygen and water, potential acid sulfate soils become actual acid sulfate soils. They can generate sulfuric acid and cause acidification of soil, sediment, rock, surface water and groundwater.
Classifying waste acid sulfate soil
Potential and actual acid sulfate soils are classified as waste acid sulfate soil (WASS) when they don’t contain:
- contaminant concentrations exceeding the upper limits for fill material in Table 3 of Waste disposal categories – characteristics and thresholds (publication 1828)
Classifying soil which exceeds contaminant concentrations
If soil has contaminant concentrations exceeding the upper limits for fill material or contains asbestos, it's not classified as WASS. You must classify it as Category A, B, C waste, Category D soil or soil containing asbestos only.
Managing acid waste sulfate soilWASS (Waste code N123) is priority waste and the relevant waste duties apply.
How you manage WASS depends on the nature and location of the soil. The hierarchy for managing WASS is:
- Avoid disturbance.
- Minimise disturbance.
- Prevent oxidation.
- Treat to reduce or neutralise acidity.
- Offsite reuse or disposal.
This means you should try to avoid disturbing the soil before treating it or taking it offsite.
Where possible you should treat and dispose of WASS onsite instead of taking it offsite.
Managing waste acid sulfate soil onsite
When you manage WASS onsite, you must meet your general environmental duty. This means you need to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment. You can find current best practice methods in national guidance and Victorian guidance.
Disposing of waste acid sulfate soil offsite
If you’re disposing of WASS offsite you must send it to a lawful place:
- If you are sending it for treatment or amelioration for reuse or offsite disposal, the receiving site needs an L08 registration.
- Treating or ameliorating refers to neutralising acidification or potential acidification of soil.
- If it’s going to landfill, including for amelioration, you must send it to a landfill authorised to receive WASS.
- If you are strategically reburying it, the receiving site needs an A18 discharge to aquifer permit.
Transporting waste acid sulfate soil
WASS is not reportable priority waste. You don’t need to track the waste or have a permission to transport it. You do need to meet your obligations under the GED.
Reviewed 10 December 2021