In this study we describe the development of an alternative methodology for hazard characterization of waste materials. Such an alternative methodology for hazard assessment of complex waste materials is urgently needed, because the lack of a validated instrument leads to arbitrary hazard classification of such complex waste materials. False classification can lead to human and environmental health risks and also has important financial consequences for the waste owner. The Hazardous Waste Directive (HWD) describes the methodology for hazard classification of waste materials. For mirror entries the HWD classification is based upon the hazardous properties (H1-15) of the waste which can be assessed from the hazardous properties of individual identified waste compounds or - if not all compounds are identified - from test results of hazard assessment tests performed on the waste material itself. For the latter the HWD recommends toxicity tests that were initially designed for risk assessment of chemicals in consumer products (pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, biocides, food, etc.). These tests (often using mammals) are not designed nor suitable for the hazard characterization of waste materials. With the present study we want to contribute to the development of an alternative and transparent test strategy for hazard assessment of complex wastes that is in line with the HWD principles for waste classification. It is necessary to cope with this important shortcoming in hazardous waste classification and to demonstrate that alternative methods are available that can be used for hazard assessment of waste materials. Next, by describing the pros and cons of the available methods, and by identifying the needs for additional or further development of test methods, we hope to stimulate research efforts and development in this direction. In this paper we describe promising techniques and argument on the test selection for the pilot study that we have performed on different types of waste materials. Test results are presented in a second paper. As the application of many of the proposed test methods is new in the field of waste management, the principles of the tests are described. The selected tests tackle important hazardous properties but refinement of the test battery is needed to fulfil the a priori conditions.