Generally any liquid waste generated from business, trade or manufacturing processes, other than domestic sewage, is defined as trade waste. Untreated trade waste that contains prohibited substances such as flammable liquids, grease, acids and solids may block the sewerage system, damage components, adversely affect the treatment process and increase costs to the community.

Household waste, such as toilet waste and water from bathrooms, kitchens and laundries is referred to as domestic sewage and should not be confused with trade waste. 

There is a misconception that trade waste is always toxic and is only generated by industrial factories. In fact, trade waste includes wastewater generated by many processes including but not limited to air conditioning units, commercial kitchens, car washes, degreasing and processing operations, food outlets, laundromats, service stations, vehicle repair workshops, equipment hire centres and animal boarding kennels.

Only waste that can be treated biologically through our treatment processes is allowed to be discharged to the sewer. Oil and grease pose a particular problem. All owners of premises with trade waste grease arrestors must hold a current trade waste approval to "discharge to sewer", which will outline cleaning requirements for grease arrestors and oily water separators. Arrestors must be cleaned out by licensed liquid waste transport operators.

How to deal with trade waste

The options for producers of trade waste are:

  • have it treated at an approved treatment facility or
  • obtain approval from us to discharge trade waste to a sewerage system  (charges apply) or
  • obtain an environmental authority under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to treat the trade waste personally before discharging the trade waste to the environment.

Trade waste applications

We control trade waste through the Trade Waste Policy and Trade Waste Management Plan (TWMP) in combination with state legislation. We issue permits to control the amount and type of trade waste being discharged into the sewerage system. Industrial and commercial users are required to pay trade waste charges according to the quality and quantity of waste they discharge.

These are annual charges and take into consideration our cost of transporting and treating the waste.

Business waste reduction

The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) has produced a number of resources to help business reduce their waste and use resources more efficiently. In many cases this can result in reduced costs. The program is now offered through Ecobiz. 

Queensland’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Strategy 2014-2024 provides a vision for a low waste Queensland. 

Related information

Trade Waste Management Plan

Liquid trade waste application form (online)

Trade waste liquid discharge - category 1 form (PDF for print) - Hairdressers, Dental, Medical, Optical, Photographic studios.

Trade waste liquid discharge - category 2 form (PDF for print) - Mechanical workshops, panel beaters, wash bays, detailers.

Trade waste liquid discharge - category 3 and 4 form (PDF for print) - Food business, laundry, pools and the like.

ecoBIZ - help for businesses to reduce their waste

Department of Environment & Science - Queensland’s waste reduction & recycling strategy 2014-2024