Waste and recyclable material classification

This is one of several Fact Sheets that provide guidance on shipping hazardous waste (HW) and hazardous recyclable material (HRM) across international borders.  Check out other Fact Sheets at Canada.ca.

The Export & Import of Hazardous Waste & Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (EIHWHRMR) allow Canada to meet its international obligations regarding the transboundary movement of HW and HRM material.  The Notice required by the EIHWHRMR contains several codes for describing waste and recyclables that allow all parties to determine whether:

  • the importing jurisdiction can accept them
  • the proposed methods of shipment and disposal or recycling are appropriate; and
  • the carrier is authorized to transport, and the receiving facility is authorized to dispose/recycle them.

Classification systems

A combination of domestic and internationally recognized codes allows everyone to understand what is being shipped by categorizing waste and recyclables by their:

  • Composition or constituents
  • Physical or chemical properties
  • How they are regulated

Mandatory fields for all waste and recyclables:

Other codes that are required where they apply to your waste or recyclable material:

  • Basel and OECD codes
  • Identification number shown in Column 1 of Schedules 3, 4, 6, or 7 of the EIHWHRMR
  • Column 2 of Schedule 10 of the EIHWHRMR

Page 2 of this Fact Sheet describes the mandatory codes.  Refer to the Guide to Classification for more information on how to describe your HW and HRM.

Check list to avoid delays

Before submitting your notice, make sure that:

  • The waste is designated “Hazardous” in both/all countries of transport.  Failure to identify this on the Notice can lead to unnecessary consultation with jurisdictions where the HW/HRM is unregulated.  
  • All information contained in the contract, the Canadian Notice, and the foreign Notice match identically, including:
    • Legal names
    • Waste codes
    • Disposal and recycling methods codes
    • Quantities and units of measurement
    • Shipment dates
  • Descriptor codes are listed in order of significance within IWIC, when applicable.
  • Use these codes where they apply:
    • Basel and OECD codes
    • Column 1 of Sch. 3, 4, 6, or 7 of the EIHWHRMR
    • Column 2 of Sch. 10 of the EIHWHRMR
  • The “state” code is correct (i.e. solid, liquid, gas, sludge.)
  • There is alignment between codes (e.g. Customs Code is consistent with the UN code.)
  • The reason for the export is current.
  • The customs codes are current--they change periodically.
  • The TDGR primary class, packing group and category are correct.

Check all fields for potential changes when copying data from previous notice applications.

Mandatory fields

  1. The International Waste Identification Code (IWIC) has seven parts. Those identified with an asterisk may have more than one code. Where multiple codes are permitted and used, they must be placed in order of significance.  Use the Guide to Classification to obtain detailed explanations, and refer to Appendices 1 through 8.
  2. The hazardous shipments must also be classified using transportation safety codes.
  3. Customs tariff code. Always refer to the most recent and relevant code from table published online as these codes change over time.      Example:  2809.20.00.30 Diphosphorus pentaoxide; phosphoric acid.
Code Description
Q Code*

Describes the origin of the waste or recyclable.

Example: Q 8 - Residues of industrial processes.

Refer to Appendix 1.

D Code

Describes the type of operation that will dispose of the hazardous waste (HW).

Example: D 10 - Incineration or thermal treatment on land

Refer to Appendix 2.

R Code

Describes the type of facility or operation that will recycle the hazardous recyclable material (HRM).

Example:  R 4 Recovery of metals and metal compounds

Refer to Appendix 3.

L, P, S & G Codes

Identifies the state of the waste/material (liquid, sludge, solid or gas) with either a generic or specific waste descriptor. 

Example 1:  L 9 - Liquid waste oil/water, hydrocarbon/water mixtures, and emulsions.  (Refer to Appendix 4 of the Classification Guide for “generic” waste descriptions.)

Example 2:  S 23 - Solid: soil, sand, or clay, including dredging spoils

C Code*

Identifies hazardous constituents that may be subject to specific controls. 

Example:  C 8 - Arsenic, arsenic compounds (Y24) (In this example, the reference table prescribes the Y code to be used.)

Refer to Appendix 5.

H Code*

Describes hazardous characteristics

Example:  H 4.1 - flammable solids

Refer to Appendix 6.

A Code

Describes the activity that generated the HW or HRM.  

Example: A 935 - Collection and/or pre-treatment of wastes

Refer to Appendix 7.

Y Code*

Identifies the key waste streams or substances controlled under the Basel Convention. 

Example:  Y 1 - clinical wastes from medical care in hospitals, medical centres, and clinics.

Refer to Appendix 8.

Code Description
UN Number

A dangerous good identifier established by the United Nations.  

Example:  UN 1091 - Acetone Oils

Refer to the TDGR, Schedule 1.

TDGR Class

One or more hazardous characteristics.  Always list the most significant category first. 

Example:  UN 1091 is Class 3 - Flammable Liquids.

Refer to the TDGR, Schedule 1, and read Part 2 of TDGR for details.

TDGR Packing Group/Category

This identifies the degree of risk of transporting the goods.

Example:  UN 1091 is Packing Group II - medium danger

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: