Waste characterisation consists of analysing and describing the physical, chemical and biological properties of waste generated in various activities. The criteria to be followed for representative sampling are set out in UNE-EN 14899 (Waste characterisation. Waste sampling. Outline for the preparation and implementation of a sampling plan) and in the Technical Reports of the UNE-CEN/TR 15310 series.

The analytical procedures required for waste characterisation are complex and challenging and can only be met by a network of laboratories with the experience and facilities of Eurofins Environment Testing Spain.

Objectives of waste characterisation:

Waste characterisation to determine the hazardousness of waste

Characterisation of a waste to determine its hazardousness, assignment of the LER code.

Waste characterisation for landfill acceptance

Characterise a waste for landfill decision, according to Royal Decree 646/2020, of 7 July, which regulates the disposal of waste by landfill.

Conducting compliance testing

Carry out compliance testing for critical parameters.

Waste characterisation for landfill acceptance

Level 1: Basic waste characterisation

Obtain the following information:

  • Type and origin
  • Composition
  • Degree of homogeneity
  • Leachability
  • Other characteristic properties, if necessary

2. Assess whether the waste meets the acceptance criteria established for each landfill class.

3. Detection of critical parameters to be considered in compliance testing.

Level 2: Compliance testing

Periodically check that the properties of the regular production residues previously determined in the basic characterisation have not changed.

Level 3: On-site verification

Visual inspection of shipments of waste to landfill in order to check whether the waste shipped corresponds to waste subject to levels 1 and 2.

Sampling and testing methods for waste characterisation at landfills

    • UNE-EN 15936:2022. Treated soils, sludges, wastes and biological wastes. Determination of total organic carbon (TOC) by dry combustion.
    • UNE-EN 15934:2012. Treated soils, sludges, wastes and biowaste. Calculation of dry matter fraction by determination of dry residue or water content.
    • UNE-EN 15935:2021. Treated soils, sludges, wastes and biological wastes. Determination of loss on ignition.
    • UNE-EN 12920:2007+A1:2009. Characterisation of waste. Methodology for the determination of waste leaching behaviour under specified conditions.
    • UNE-CEN/TS 15364:2008 EX. Waste characterisation. Tests on behaviour during leaching. Acid and basic neutralization capacity test.
    • UNE-EN 14405:2017. Waste characterisation. Leaching behaviour test. Upflow percolation test (under specific conditions).
    • UNE-EN 12457-4:2003. Characterisation of waste. Leaching. Conformity test for leaching of granular waste and sludge. Part 4: One-stage batch test with a liquid-solid ratio of 10 l/kg for materials with a particle size of less than 10 mm (with or without size reduction).
    • UNE-EN 14429:2015. Characterisation of waste. Test of behaviour during leaching. Influence of pH on leaching with initial acid/base addition.
    • DIN CEN/TS 15862; SPECIFICATION DIN 91233:2012-11. Waste characterisation. Leaching compliance test. One step batch leaching test for monoliths with a fixed liquid/surface area ratio (L/A) for test portions with fixed minimum dimensions.
    • UNE-EN 15863:2015. Characterisation of waste. Leaching behaviour test for basic characterisation. Dynamic leaching test of monoliths with periodic renewal of the leachant under fixed conditions.
    • UNE-EN 13656:2020.Soil, treated biological waste, sludge and residues. Digestion with a mixture of hydrochloric acid (HCl), nitric acid (HNO3), tetrafluoroboric acid (HBF4) or hydrofluoric acid (HF), for the subsequent determination of elements.
    • UNE-EN 13657:2003. Characterisation of waste. Digestion in aqua regia for the subsequent determination of the portion of elements in the soluble residue.
    • UNE-EN 14039:2005. Characterisation of waste. Determination of hydrocarbon content in the range of C10 to C40 by gas chromatography.
    • UNE-EN 17322:2020. Environmental solid matrices. Determination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) by gas chromatography – mass selective detection (GC-MS) or electron capture detection (GC-ECD).
    • UNE-EN 17503:2022. Soils, sludges, treated biowaste and residues. Determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) by gas chromatography (GC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
    • UNE-EN 15216:2021. Environmental solid matrices. Determination of total dissolved solids (TDS) in water and eluates.

Criteria for acceptance of waste at landfills

The following criteria shall be considered:

Statistical criteria

Minimum number of samples to ensure representativeness of sampling according to the variability of the waste mass to be analysed

Sampling frequency

Assumed probability distribution function for each specific parameter

Desired level of confidence

Information underpinning the basic characterisation

Historical data series that may exist on the residue

Characterisation of a waste to determine its hazardousness

Regulation (EU) No 1357/2014 lists 15 hazard characteristics that will result in the classification of waste as hazardous.

Before a decision is made to test a waste for hazardousness, it is necessary to make a documentary assessment by assigning the corresponding LER code.

Other waste-related inspections

Legislation also provides for specific uses for waste, for which some analysis or characterisation of the waste is required to determine whether a given waste is valid for that particular use.

For example, in the specific case of sludge for agricultural use, the analyses and reference values are described in Order AAA/1072/2013, of 7 June, on the use of sewage sludge in the agricultural sector.

Waste analysis can also be considered for use as fuel or as filler material on construction sites or roads.

análisis Indicadores biológicos

ENAC Accredited Laboratories

Eurofins Environment Testing Spain laboratories are accredited and recognised by the different regional administrations and by ENAC as an Inspection Entity and Testing Laboratory for waste sampling and testing. The scope of accreditation, unlike others, includes accredited tests according to specific standards expressly required.

What sets our laboratories apart?

  • We have a network of environmental laboratories distributed throughout the national territory, which makes us a benchmark supplier in the field of environmental analysis. In addition, we have maximum scope in terms of accredited parameters and environmental matrices, which allows us to cover all types of sectors and areas.

  • Dealing directly with our customers is our “seal of identity”. We work every day to offer you the highest quality in our service and therefore, one of our main goals is the rigorous fulfilment of delivery times. We also give individualised responses to emergencies, unforeseen events or specific requirements to our customers so that they always have the most efficient response possible.

  • Our accreditations endorse our efforts to offer a service of the highest quality. We work under demanding quality standards so that our environmental laboratories can offer their services with the utmost rigour and reliability.

  • Our laboratories offer their clients a wide range of equipment, equipped with the latest technologies on the market and the experience of their staff for the development of new testing methods. Innovation and technology are two hallmark values of Eurofins Environment Testing Spain. Innovation and technology are two of Eurofins Environment Testing Spain’s hallmarks, and all our results are digitalised so that clients can consult them online in real time.

  • We have a large number of accreditations from both ENAC and other bodies that allow us to guarantee our clients the maximum reliability and quality of the results.

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