Trade effluent

From CEOpedia | Management online

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].

Examples of Trade effluent

  • Industrial waste from manufacturing plants such as oils, greases, chemicals, and heavy metals.
  • Washing machine and dishwasher wastewater from businesses such as laundries, restaurants, and hotels.
  • Food processing waste from food production and packaging facilities.
  • Pharmaceutical waste from drug manufacturing plants.
  • Swimming pool water from commercial swimming pools.
  • Printing waste from printing plants.
  • Paint waste from auto body shops.
  • Oil and grease waste from gas stations and repair shops.
  • Waste water from food and beverage processing plants.

Advantages of Trade effluent

Trade effluent has a wide range of advantages, which include:

  • Increased efficiency in the production process. Trade effluent can be used to reduce the amount of energy and water needed for production, which can help to reduce costs and improve the sustainability of businesses.
  • Reduced environmental pollution. Trade effluent is treated and recycled, which can help to reduce the amount of pollutants that are released into the environment.
  • Reduced risk of health problems. By treating and recycling trade effluent, businesses can reduce the risk of diseases and illnesses caused by contaminated water.
  • Improved waste management. Trade effluent is often reused in the production process, which reduces the amount of waste that is produced and helps to reduce pollution.

Limitations of Trade effluent

Trade effluent has several limitations that need to be taken into account when disposing of it. These include:

  • Discharge limits - Every business must comply with certain environmental regulations regarding the amount and type of effluent they can discharge into the environment. This means that businesses must monitor their effluent levels to ensure they are within the limits.
  • Treatment requirements - Some types of effluent require specific treatment before they can be discharged. This may include filtration, pH adjustment, heat treatment or chemical treatment. Businesses must ensure they install the appropriate treatment systems to ensure that their effluent meets the required standards.
  • Costs - Disposing of trade effluent can be expensive. Businesses must factor in the cost of treatment and disposal when budgeting for waste management.
  • Health and safety - Trade effluent can contain hazardous materials that can be harmful to health and the environment. Businesses must ensure they adhere to health and safety regulations when disposing of their effluent.

Other approaches related to Trade effluent

A range of other approaches can be taken to deal with trade effluent. These include:

  • Ensuring all equipment is maintained properly and regularly serviced, to ensure that there is no spillage or leaking of effluent.
  • Utilizing chemical treatments to break down the effluent into more manageable components.
  • Installing filtration systems and other mechanical treatments to separate out solids from liquids and help purify the effluent.
  • Utilizing biological treatments, such as anaerobic digestion, to break down organic material in the effluent.
  • Collecting effluent in tanks and regularly disposing of it to a wastewater treatment plant or an on-site treatment system.

In order to properly manage trade effluent, it is important to take a comprehensive approach that involves a combination of all of the above methods. This ensures that the environment is protected and that the effluent is treated and disposed of in an appropriate and safe manner.


  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

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Author: Michał Duch