The Hazardous Waste Directive (HWD, Council Directive 91/689/EC, 1991) provides a framework for classification of hazardous waste, based on 15 Hazard (H)-criteria. For complex wastes the HWD foresees the application of toxicity tests on the waste material itself to assess its toxic properties. However, these proposed test methods often involve mammalian testing, which is not acceptable from an ethical point of view, nor is it feasible economically. The DISCRISET project was initiated to investigate the use of alternative chemical and biological fast screening tests for waste hazard classification. In the first part of the project, different methods were reviewed and a testing strategy was proposed to minimize time and cost of analysis by a tiered approach. This includes as a first tier chemical analysis followed by a general acute toxicity screen as a second tier and as a third tier mechanistic toxicity tests to assess chronic toxicity (genotoxicity, hormone disturbance, teratogenic effects, immunologic activity). In this phase of the project, selected methods were applied to 16 different waste samples from various sources and industries. The first tier chemical tests are recommended for the full characterization of the leachate fraction (inorganics) but not for the organic fraction of samples. Here the chemical characterization is only useful if toxic content is known or suspected. As second tier the fast bacterial test Microtox is validated as a general toxicity screen for the organic fraction (worst case organic extract). Samples that are not classified in tier 1 or 2 are then further investigated in the third tier by the mechanistic toxicity tests and tested for their potential chronic toxicity: immune activity (TNF-a upregulation) is indicative for corrosive, irritating or sensitising effects (H4/H8/H15), reproductive effects (H10) are indicated by hormone disturbance and early life stage abnormalities in fish larvae when exposed to the extracts and mutagenicity and carcinogenicity (H7, H11) are indicated by SOS response induction and increased mutation frequency in the Ames test when exposed to the extracts. Results indicate that the combination of chemical tests and bioassays allows important hazardous properties to be addressed and the tiered approach ensures that the tests are performed quickly and economically. The suggested strategy provides a solid and ethical alternative to the methods described in the HWD and is a vast improvement on the current, arbitrary classification.