Commercial trade wastewater

Why you need our approval

Discharging commercial trade wastewater into our systems is an operational, environmental and safety risk for us and the community. That's why you must have our approval to connect your commercial business to our system, and properly install and maintain appropriate treatment equipment. This helps us meet our commitment to Greater Sydney to protect the health of the community and the environment. This page covers commercial trade wastewater. Find out more about industrial trade wastewater.

Defining trade wastewater
Trade wastewater is wastewater produced at industrial or commercial premises. It can be wastewater transported by vehicle, and includes septic effluent. It also includes wastewater from ships and boats, and run-off from contaminated surface water and groundwater.

Why we have trade wastewater requirements

Trade wastewater may include substances that could affect the environment or the health of the community. It may even affect our ability to serve the community by damaging our equipment. Our requirements and conditions for accepting trade wastewater help us to:

  • prevent blockages in the wastewater system that could cause waste to flow into the environment, into the community or even back into your premises
  • protect people working in and around the wastewater system 
  • protect rivers and oceans
  • protect the wastewater system and treatment plants from damage so we can continue to serve the community
  • process wastewater and produce recycled water and good quality biosolids
  • encourage sustainability through waste minimisation, cleaner production and water conservation.

Our trade wastewater requirements help us protect areas like this.

Businesses that produce commercial trade wastewater

If your business is in the automotive, food or photographic industry, or your business is listed in the table below, you're classified as a commercial customer. 

If you're not a commercial customer, you might be an industrial customer. Industrial customers need different treatment equipment and may need to take samples before putting any trade wastewater in our system. Find out about industrial trade wastewater.

For a complete list of commercial trade wastewater processes, see our Commercial customers – trade wastewater fees and charges (330KB) fact sheet. If your business process is not listed below or in the fact sheet, please email

Business group


Retail food

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


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

Commercial laundries

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


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


Craft breweries, municipal swimming pools / aquatic centres, cooling tower and boiler blowdown

Approval to discharge commercial trade wastewater

Some businesses must seek formal approval to discharge while others are 'deemed' to have permission. However, all commercial businesses have requirements to meet before we'll allow you to discharge into our systems. Read our Responsibilities of connected customers policy (358KB) to find out about your rights and obligations when you're connected to our systems. You can read more about requirements for approval below. If you're not sure which category your business falls into, please follow the steps below to apply and we'll contact you.

How to apply

  1. Complete an application for connection to discharge trade wastewater at Sydney Water Tap in.
  2. Answer any questions we have if we need to contact you about your application, collect additional information or arrange to meet you at your property.
  3. Wait while we assess your application and notify you of any requirements. This usually takes less than 21 days.

You mustn't apply on behalf of someone else without their permission. We send the written approval to the property owner. You must tell us if you change the business activities on your site.

How to cancel

Applying for permission to cancel an existing commercial trade wastewater approval is just as easy. You must apply at least 28 days before you stop discharging trade wastewater. This will enable us to stop the trade waste charges from the date you stop discharging trade wastewater from the property.

You can complete an application to cancel an existing trade wastewater approval at Sydney Water Tap inYou mustn't apply on behalf of someone else without their permission.

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. 

Fees and charges

Trade waste fees and charges cover the additional costs for us to manage and treat trade wastewater. There are 2 types of charges:

  • management fees 
  • waste quality charges.

Fees and charges don't apply to deemed processes (see below). Go to our fees page to find out more.

Trade waste fees and charges 

Commercial customers have standard commercial processes, which attract certain fees and charges. We've defined standard commercial processes in our Commercial customers – trade wastewater fees and charges (330KB) fact sheet.

Commercial trade wastewater requirements

All commercial businesses need our permission to discharge trade wastewater. Our conditions for giving this approval and accepting your trade wastewater are that you must meet the requirements explained in your trade wastewater permit.

These conditions may include installing and maintaining specific pre-treatment equipment suited to your business activities.

There are also some substances that you cannot discharge at all, and some pre-treatment equipment that we don't allow to be connected to our systems.


Equipment that must not be connected to our systems

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

Pre-treatment requirements

You must have our approval to discharge trade wastewater. If we approve your request, we'll issue you with a trade wastewater permit. We'll explain any conditions or requirements for accepting your trade wastewater in your permit including any pre-treatment requirements. Most commercial trade wastewater customers need to install and maintain some pre-treatment equipment.


Pre-treatment explained

You may have to treat your wastewater before discharging it to the wastewater system (sewer). 'Pre-treatment' is the term we use to describe the process and equipment you use to do this. 

  • 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.
  • Choosing the right pre-treatment equipment
    It's important you choose the right pre-treatment for your business. You must only use items that are listed for use within our area of operations. The best option is to discuss your pre-treatment requirements with us before making any equipment purchases. But you can also see our listed pre-treatment pages.

How to have your pre-treatment equipment listed

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 (833KB).

What can and can't be discharged to our systems

There are some things we do not allow to be discharged to our systems. Certain industries, such as breweries and medical facilities, pose significant risks if waste is not properly managed.


Craft breweries

Craft breweries are an emerging industry. Their trade wastewater can cause odours and accelerated corrosion in our wastewater system (sewer). Find out more about our Trade waste requirements for craft breweries (164KB) discharging less than 12 kL/day. 

Medical waste

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

You can discharge liquid waste to our wastewater system, including faeces and body fluids.

You cannot discharge solid waste. 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 our wastewater system 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 for approval to discharge. Your site-specific conditions will be outlined in your individual commercial permit.

Expect to be inspected

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 online monitoring.

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

More for retail food businesses

What's in retail food wastewater?

Trade wastewater from retail food businesses contains organic material that can cause odours and accelerate corrosion in our wastewater system. It also contains greasy waste, which can become solid and block our systems, causing wastewater to overflow into the environment or even back into your premises.

As a minimum, you need to follow the requirements of your approval to minimise the impacts of your retail trade wastewater. We also have some housekeeping tips that can help your business be more sustainable.

Read more about substances produced by retail food industry and their impacts.


Requirements for food retail businesses

There are a number of requirements for retail food outlets to meet before we will give our approval to discharge trade wastewater into our wastewater network. Most retail food outlets must have:

  • a grease trap. Find out more about grease traps and treatment equipment
  • floor and sink waste bucket traps in all prep sinks and floor wastes in all commercial kitchens and food-preparation areas
  • a boundary trap with a gravity connection to our wastewater system
  • a backflow containment device at the property boundary next to the water meter
  • a tap within 5 metres of any pre-treatment equipment (such as a grease trap) with a backflow prevention device on the inlet side of the tap. Learn more about backflow prevention.

You must not pour waste oil down the drain or into your grease trap. You'll need to collect any waste oil from deep frying or BBQs and store it in sealed containers in a properly bunded areas and have an oil recycler collect it.

Read our Plumbing for retail food businesses (450KB) fact sheet for details on requirements for specific types of retail food businesses before selecting or installing trade wastewater pre-treatment.

Sustainability and the food retail sector

Managing your waste better and using resources sustainably, not only helps you meet your trade waste requirements. By using Avoid – Reduce – Re-use – Recycle, you can save money, protect the environment and serve your community. It's also a great marketing asset to show how you're helping save the world one meal at a time.

Learn more in our housekeeping tips.

Wastesafe for grease-trap waste

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 select and engage a Wastesafe transporter to clean it (pump it out) at the frequency we set.

If you have a grease trap, you must:

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

Read more about Wastesafe charges and requirements and select your Wastesafe transporter.

More for motor trades businesses

What's in motor trades wastewater?

Trade wastewater from motor trades contains petroleum hydrocarbons, solids, metals and chlorinated solvents and phenols. Failing to maintain your equipment and follow the requirements of your agreement, can have explosive consequences. Fumes can also create health risks for workers.

As a minimum, you need to follow the requirements of your approval to minimise the impacts of your retail trade wastewater. We also have some housekeeping tips that can help your business be more sustainable.

Read more about substances produced by the motor trades industry and their impacts.

Requirements for motor trades businesses

Most automotive businesses need to install:

  • in-sink and in-floor bucket traps
  • an oil water separation system with a collection pit and pump.

Only use pre-treatment we've listed and size it to meet your maximum hourly flow rate now and into the future.

Find out more about grease traps and treatment equipment for your motor trades business.

You must have our approval to discharge waste into our system and follow the requirements in your agreement, to minimise the impacts of substances in trade wastewater.

Deemed processes

Some businesses must seek formal approval to discharge while others are 'deemed' to have permission. We call these 'deemed processes'. These are business processes:

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

Read our deemed processes requirements on the grease traps and treatment equipment page to see if your business has approval to discharge trade wastewater as a deemed process. However, even if you have deemed processes, you must continue to meet pre-treatment, backflow prevention and other requirements.

Trade waste fees and charges don't apply to deemed processes.

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, see our listed pre-treatment for other businessesIf you're uncertain whether your business processes are deemed processes, please follow the steps above to apply for approval to discharge at Sydney Water Tap in. We'll discuss whether you need a permit and any requirements.

Pollutants and impacts from food retail businesses


Possible effects

Food solids
Food particles are contained in wastewater from plate leftovers and pot cleaning.

Food solids may:

  • block drainage within your premises, creating expensive plumbing bills
  • damage our pumps and put extra load on the wastewater treatment processes making it more costly to treat the wastewater
  • block wastewater pipes, causing wastewater to back up and overflow. 

Fats, oils and grease
Trade wastewater from the wash-up includes food particles and sauce, gravy, salad dressing and meat juice residue.

Fats, oils and grease may:

  • block drainage within your premises, creating expensive plumbing bills
  • block wastewater pipes, causing wastewater to back up and overflow
  • damage our pumps and put extra load on the wastewater treatment processes making it more costly to treat the wastewater.

Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)
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 wastewater system (sewer).

BOD may:

  • cause odours in your premises or in the wastewater system
  • accelerate corrosion in our wastewater system, causing wastewater to leak into the environment and requiring costly repairs.

High temperature
High temperature dishwashers release wastewater at high temperatures.

Temperatures above 25 °C may:

  • accelerate corrosion in our wastewater system, causing wastewater to leak into the environment and requiring costly repairs
  • affect the operations of your grease trap. High temperature trade wastewater doesn't cool enough to allow oil and grease to separate in the grease trap – this means that the greasy wastewater enters our system potentially causing blockages.


Pollutants from motor trades


Possible effects

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 our wastewater system
  • Toxic to aquatic life

Road grime, underbody mud and engine grit

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

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 wastewater by-products
  • Interfere with wastewater 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