Trade effluent

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Trade effluent
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Trade effluent is waste liquid from premises being used for business. It includes fats, oils, greases, detergents and food waste, as well as things like chemicals. In fact, the only liquids that do not count as trade effluent are normal domestic sewage and rainwater run-off. The size of your business does not affect the fact that your waste liquids are treated as trade effluent.

Before you discharge any effluent either directly or indirectly into the public sewage system, you must get a 'trade effluent consent' or make a 'trade effluent agreement' with your local water or sewerage company. You can find out which is your local company. For some types of effluent, you may also need a permit from the Environment Agency[1].

Special provisions relating to trade effluent

No trade effluent shall be discharged from any trade premises into a municipal drain otherwise than in accordance with a written notice, hereinafter referred to as 'a trade effluent notice' served on the Commissioner by the owner or occupier of the premises, stating[2][3]:

  • the nature or composition of the trade effluent
  • the maximum quantity of the trade effluent which it is proposed to discharge in any one day
  • the highest rate at which it is proposed to discharge the trade effluent

Where a trade effluent notice is respect of any premises is served on the Commissioner, he may, at any time within the initial period, give to the owner or occupier, as the case may be, of those premises a direction that no trade effluent shall be discharged in pursuance of the notice until a specified date after the end of the initial period and in so far as the discharge of any trade effluent in accordance with the trade effluent notice require the consent of the Commissioner in order to be lawful, the Commissioner may give that consent either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as he thinks fit to impose in respect to:

  • the drain or drains into which any trade effluent may be discharged in pursuance of the trade effluent notice
  • the nature of composition of the trade effluent which may be so discharged
  • the maximum quantity which may be so discharged on any one day
  • the highest rate at which any trade effluent may be discharged in pursuance of trade effluent notice

Trade effluent control

Increased biological treatment plant capacity had to be made available to treat higher loadings from industrial discharges. This technique was only possible for high organic loads. Persistent toxins, such as metals, were very troublesome. The very bacteria needed to treat the sewage were killed by these toxins and consequently the total sewage flow would not be fully treated. The only practical method of overcoming this was by reducing and pre-treating such discharges at source. More control of trade effluents was needed and this was eventually made possible by legislation.

The Public Health Act gave industries the right to discharge to sewers and a local authority the power to control such discharges. Wastes were allowed to be discharged to public sewers subject to quality, rate of flow and other conditions. The cost of receiving and treating these effluents could also be recovered by the local authority, but all of these controls were only made possible by invoking byelaws[4].


  1. S. Williams 2013, p.22
  2. N. Panchayat 2019, p.346
  3. P.Pitman 2003, p.48
  4. D.F. Tilley 2011, p.72


Author: Michał Duch