Commercial trade wastewater

Accepting trade wastewater to sewer is an operational, environmental and safety risk for us. If you discharge trade wastewater, you must have our written approval.

Trade wastewater includes:

  • wastewater produced at industrial or commercial premises
  • wastewater transported by vehicle, including septic effluent
  • wastewater from ships and boats
  • run-off from contaminated surface water and groundwater.
If you're discharging trade wastewater without our approval, we may disconnect the trade waste service. We may also disconnect or restrict your water service. 


Our requirements and conditions for accepting trade wastewater help us:

  • protect people working in and around the wastewater system 
  • protect receiving environments (rivers and oceans)
  • protect the wastewater system and treatment plants from damage
  • process wastewater and produce recycled water and good quality biosolids
  • encourage waste minimisation, cleaner production and water efficient practices.

What you need to know

Commercial trade wastewater includes:

  •  greasy wastewater from commercial cooking
  •  contaminated wastewater from mechanical workshops, car washes and laundries. 

You discharge commercial trade wastewater if your business activities are listed here.

Business group

Activities

Retail food

Restaurants, take-away food outlets, function centres, hospital and nursing home kitchens, caterers, butchers, delicatessens and retail bakeries

Automotive

Service stations, panel beaters and spray painters, car detailers, car wash - hand wash and pressure spray, car wash <12kl/day, mechanical workshops and auto recyclers 

Commercial laundries

Laundromats, commercial laundries < 2 megalitres/year, and hospital, nursing home and hotel laundries

Photographic

Minilabs, medical facilities using x-rays, graphic arts and professional photographic laboratories

Shopping centres with centralised pre-treatment

Shopping centres with shared pre-treatment other than grease traps

Other

Municipal swimming pools/aquatic centres, cooling tower and boiler blowdown

For a complete list of commercial trade wastewater processes, read our Commercial customers - trade wastewater fees and charges fact sheet.

If your business process is not listed, contact businesscustomers@sydneywater.com.au.

Retail food businesses 

Trade wastewater from retail food businesses contains organic material that can cause odours and accelerated corrosion in our sewers.

  • Solids can cause blockages in our system, upset our treatment processes and damage our pumps. 
  • Oils and grease can cause blockages and affect our treatment processes.
Pollutants from retail food businesses
Source Possible effect

Solids
Food particles contained in washwater, plate leftovers, pot cleaning

  • May block drainage within the food premises
  • May damage our pumps
  • May cause blockages in sewer
  • More costly to treat the wastewater

Oils and grease
Trade wastewater from the wash up includes food particles and sauce, gravy, salad dressing and meat juice residue

  • May block drainage within the food premises
  • May cause blockages in sewer
  • More costly to treat the wastewater

Biochemical oxygen demand
Trade wastewater contains small particles of food, gravy and sauce residues and sugars. This organic material is a readily accessible food source for micro-organisms that are present in the sewer

  • May cause odours and accelerated corrosion in our sewers

High temperature
High temperature dishwashers release wastewater at high temperatures

  • Temperatures > 25oC cause accelerated corrosion in our sewers
  • High temperature trade wastewater does not cool sufficiently to allow oils and grease to separate in the grease trap - greasy wastewater discharges from the grease trap

Motor trades 

Trade wastewater from the motor industry contains petroleum hydrocarbons, solids, metals and chlorinated solvents and phenols. These substances can:

  • affect the health and safety of our workers
  • damage our wastewater system
  • upset our treatment processes and our ability to produce good quality recycled water and biosolids. 


Some of these chemicals have the potential to cause explosions.

Pollutants from motor trades
Source Possible effect

Petroleum hydrocarbons
Diesel, petrol, solvents, liquefied petroleum gas, engine oil, grease and degreasers contain petroleum hydrocarbons

  • Release flammable or explosive gases at the premises or in sewers
  • Toxic to aquatic life
     

Road grime, underbody mud and engine grit

  • Deteriorate mechanical equipment such as pumps and valves
  • Form deposits in the sewer and cause overflows
  • Accumulate in pumping stations, causing blockages
  • Cause overflows on your site 

Metals
Lead, zinc, copper, nickel and aluminium are found in leaded petrol, radiators, engine parts, catalytic converters, batteries and the residue from chemically cleaning engine blocks

  • Contaminate sewage by-products
  • Interfere with sewage treatment processes
  • Toxic to humans, animals and plants

Chlorinated solvents 
Chlorinated solvents are found in decarbonising solutions and degreasers

  • Toxic to humans
  • Damage plastic drainage fittings  
 

If your business is listed below, you have approval to discharge trade wastewater as a 'deemed process'. However, you must continue to meet pre-treatment, backflow prevention and other requirements.

You must only use pre-treatment items that are approved for use within our area of operations. To find out if pre-treatment items are approved for use, read about grease traps and treatment equipment.

No trade wastewater fees and charges apply.

Deemed process

Pre-treatment requirements

Beautician, doctor's surgery, funeral parlour, school (ceramic and pottery room), venetian blind cleaning  

No pre-treatment required

Aquariums

Must meet Australian quarantine requirements

Building construction - slab formation

No discharge to sewer. Pipework with open connectors to be capped at all times or have an internal device fitted

Mobile carpet cleaners

20 micron filter unit

Cooling towers

Discharge not to exceed 500 litres/day 

Dental surgery

Amalgam trap and segregation of waste amalgam

Dental technician

Plaster trap

Dog groomer, pet shop (retail)

In-floor bucket trap, no organophosphates pesticides to sewer

Dry cleaners

Solvent recovery unit

Florist

No herbicide to sewer

Hairdresser

In-floor bucket trap and in-sink bucket trap

Optical lens grinding

Solids settlement pit

Residential garbage bin wash area

  • Roof and bund bin wash area to exclude rainwater and install an approved in-floor bucket trap
  • Discharge directly to sewer via floor waste
  • Use only soap based products to clean garbage bins
or

  • Bund bin wash area to exclude runoff from other areas and install approved diversion system*
  • Use only soap based products to clean garbage bins
*Fox Environmental Systems DD600S

Residential vehicle wash bay

    • Minimum 1,000 litres/hour oil/water separator system or 1,000 litre general purpose pit
    • Display a sign stating "No degreasing or mechanical work in the wash bay"
    • Locate vehicle wash bay on a roofed and bunded hard surface and install an approved in-floor bucket trap
    • Direct all washwater to the oil/water separator or general purpose pit via floor waste
or

    • Minimum 1,000 litres/hour oil/water separator system or 1,000 litre general purpose pit
    • Display a sign stating 'No degreasing or mechanical work in the wash bay'
    • Bund unroofed bin wash area to exclude runoff from other areas and install approved diversion system*
*Fox Environmental Systems DD600

Sanitary bin washing

Screening and temperature control (less than 38oC)

Swimming pool (residential, hotel, hospital, club)

No open areas discharging rainwater to sewer

Train platform and internal carriage cleaning

  • In-floor bucket trap and in-sink bucket trap
  • No open areas draining to sewer

If you're discharging trade wastewater and you're not listed as a deemed process, you must have our written approval. If you can't find it or you're not sure if you have our written approval, contact businesscustomers@sydneywater.com.au.

If you don't have written approval and you're discharging trade waste, you must apply at Sydney Water Tap in™.

Applying for permission to discharge commercial trade wastewater is simple.

  1. Complete an application for connection to discharge trade wastewater at Sydney Water Tap in™.
  2. We may contact you to discuss your application, collect additional information or arrange to meet you at your propery if necessary.
  3. We'll assess the outcome of your application within 21 days and notify you of any requirements.

You must not apply on behalf of someone else without their permission. We'll send copies of all written approvals to the applicant and property owner.

You must tell us if you change the business activities on your site or if you want to cancel your permission to discharge trade wastewater.

You must have our approval to discharge trade wastewater.

Our conditions for accepting your trade wastewater are explained in your trade wastewater permit. You may need to install and maintain specific items of pre-treatment suited to your business activities.

Trade waste fees and charges apply.


Deemed processes

Deemed processes are processes:

  • we assess as low risk
  • that discharge small volumes of trade wastewater to sewer.

 
If you're a deemed process customer, you may discharge to sewer without negotiating a permit if you install specific items of pre-treatment.
 

Commercial customers

Commercial customers have standard commercial processes. We've defined standard commercial processes in our Commercial customers - trade wastewater fees and charges fact sheet.

Commercial customers may have to treat wastewater before discharging it to sewer. You must discuss your pre-treatment requirements with us. 

You must only use pre-treatment items that are listed for use within our area of operations. To find out what's listed, read about:

Summary of pre-treatment requirements for motor trades

Activities

Minimum pre-treatment requirements


Service station with under canopy forecourt

  • Collection well with a sloped bottom and minimum working volume of 750 litres
  • Inspection opening on grill cover
  • Level indicator in collection well
  • High level in collection well triggers flashing light
  • Oil/water separator system
  • Manual check of collection well before using keyed manual start switch
  • Keyed manual start switch located close to pit and pump
  • Bunded area around oil/water separator
  • Wastewater discharge point located outside the bunded area 
Installation set up with hydrocyclone
Installation set up with coalescing plate separator


Panel beating and spray painting
Car detailer
Mechanical workshop
Auto recyclers

  • Collection pit with an operating capacity of at least 500 litres
  • Oil/ water separator system sized according to influent flow rate (minimum size 1kL/hr)
Installation set up with coalescing plate separator


Car wash – hand wash and pressure spray
Car wash – mechanical <12kL/day

 

  • Roof and bund wash area to exclude rainwater and install in-floor bucket traps
  • Collection pit with an operating capacity of at least 500 litres
  • Oil/ water separator system sized according to influent flow rate (minimum size 1kL/hr)
  • No discharge of solvents to sewer
or
  • Bund wash area to exclude runoff from other areasand install an approved diversion system* 
  • Collection pit with an operating capacity of at least 500 litres
  • Oil/ water separator system sized according to influent flow rate (minimum size 1kL/hr)
  • No discharge of solvents to sewer
* Fox Environmental Systems DD600 System

Installation set up with coalescing plate separator


Sink-to-sewer waste disposal units

We don't allow sink-to-sewer waste disposal units, in-sink food waste disposal units or garbage grinders in business premises.
 

Use of additives

Adding solvents, enzymes, mutant or natural bacteria, odour control agents and pesticides to grease traps or pre-treatment systems is not permitted.
 

Medical waste

What can be discharged to sewer

Liquid waste, including faeces and body fluids from:

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • offices or surgeries of a medical doctor
  • dentists
  • convalescent or nursing homes
  • medical or veterinary laboratories
  • health transport facilities
  • other medical facilities.


What must not be discharged to sewer

Solid waste from:

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • offices or surgeries of a medical doctor
  • dentists
  • convalescent or nursing homes
  • medical or veterinary laboratories
  • health transport facilities
  • other medical facilities.


Solid waste includes hypodermic needles, syringes, instruments, utensils, swabs, dressings, bandages, any disposable paper or plastic items, any portion of human or animal anatomy or any items that have been macerated.
 

Discharge from nuclear medicine units

Hospitals or veterinary premises with nuclear medicine units must ensure wastewater is discharged to sewer at a controlled rate that we determine. We may:

  • require you to install delay holding tanks
  • restrict days and time of discharge
  • require you to sample your trade wastewater.


We assess each application. Your site specific conditions will be outlined in your individual commercial permit.
 

Inspections

Sydney Water representative inspecting pre-treatment

Our representatives will inspect your site and pre-treatment.

Our business customer representatives may enter your site to ensure your activities are in line with your permit. Our representatives may:

  • collect samples of your trade wastewater at any time, on any day
  • install and use on-line monitoring.

No one on the premises may impede or delay our representatives, except to ensure relevant safety precautions are in place.

Pre-treatment is the term used to describe any items of equipment you use on your site to treat trade wastewater before discharging it to our system. 

Most commercial trade wastewater customers need to install and maintain pre-treatment items.

Choose the appropriate pre-treatment for your business. You must only use items that are listed for use within our area of operations. Find out more about  grease traps and treatment equipment.

If you're a manufacturer or pre-treatment supplier and want to have an item listed for use within our area of operations, you must submit a Trade waste pre-treatment listing request.

Trade waste fees and charges cover the additional costs of managing and treating trade wastewater. There are two types of charges:

  • management fees 
  • waste quality charges.


Go to our fees page to find out more.
 

Deemed processes

Fees and charges don't apply to deemed processes.

Wastesafe is an electronic tracking system we use to monitor the generation, collection, transport and disposal of grease trap waste. If you have a grease trap, you must:

  • arrange for a waste transporter to clean it (pump it out) at the frequency we set 
  • contact your Waste contractor to arrange a service
  • contact an authorised transporter if you need to change your transporter.


Charges

Waste contractor charges

Your waste contractor will charge you directly to:

  • clean your grease trap
  • transport your grease trap waste to a treatment facility
  • treat your grease trap waste at the treatment facility.
     

Sydney Water charges

We'll charge you a fixed liquid waste trap (grease trap) charge of $27.06 a quarter for each of your grease traps.

If you miss a scheduled pump-out, we may apply a missed service (pump out) charge of:

  • $298.27 for grease traps 2,000 litres or less
  • $596.56 for grease traps larger than 2,000 litres.

Read our Wastesafe - Servicing your grease trap fact sheet for more information about missed service charges.
 

Wastesafe transporters

Your Wastesafe transporter will tell us when you've contacted them to arrange services.

What do you need to do? Contact an authorised transporter who will enter the change online on your behalf.


More information

Before selecting or installing trade wastewater pre-treatment at a retail food business, read Plumbing for retail food businesses.

Read about  Wastesafe grease trap servicing.  

Housekeeping tips for food industry

Chef preparing food

Find out how to improve the quality of your trade wastewater.

Read more

Housekeeping tips for motor trades

Cleaning motor vehicle parts

Find out how to improve the quality of your trade wastewater.

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