Australian waste classifications - roles in decision making

Hyder Consulting, 2011

Hyder Consulting for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011

This publication describes the waste classifications used in Australian States and Territories. It is to support work being done under Strategy 4 of the National Waste Policy: Less Waste, More Resources. Strategy 4 of the Policy is to develop and introduce a new national system for the definition and classification of waste.


The Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (department) commissioned Hyder Consulting (Hyder) to consult with Australian jurisdictions on legislative and practical bases for jurisdictional use of waste classifications. The classifications were included in the Department's National Waste Report 2010, released May 2010. The classification schemes were expressed as diagrams in detailed and summary versions.

The department has subsequently commissioned Hyder to consolidate the classifications and explanatory text in this summary report. In addition, Hyder conducted additional consultations to determine whether jurisdictions used multiple classifications for different purposes and to determine uses of the waste classifications in decision making.

Most Australian jurisdictions use waste classifications in permitting and licensing, and to determine treatment and disposal methods. Beyond these common uses, jurisdictions can vary significantly in their primary uses of waste classifications. For example, Victoria's approach focuses primarily on Prescribed Industrial Waste (known elsewhere as 'hazardous waste' or other terms) while Queensland's classifications serve primarily to drive wastes toward specific treatment paths. New South Wales' classifications primarily affect disposal options for specific wastes and incorporate a risk-based approach. In Western Australia and South Australia, waste classifications are used primarily to direct wastes to specific disposal facilities best suited for those classes of waste. Western Australia has also taken more of a management-based approach than the risk-based approach common in other jurisdictions. These approaches to classification may vary from the classifications used for reporting requirements utilised by the jurisdictions.

This report incorporates summary waste classifications by jurisdiction and summarises Hyder's consultations with the jurisdictions on how the waste classifications are used to inform decision-making. The reader should note that all footnote references are current as of May 2010.

See also