Housekeeping tips

How to improve the quality of your wastewater

Are you in the retail food or motor trade industry? Following a few good practices can improve the quality of your trade wastewater. Removing solids, oils and grease from your wastewater stream at the source helps prevent your pre-treatment system being overloaded. It also helps reduce the number of blockages and overflows within your property and our system. Using sinks, toilets and treatment systems as a garbage bin, might seem an easy option, but don't even sink about it!


Cleaner production and sustainability

Don't even sink about it

Being sustainable means managing resources better and disposing of waste responsibly. Many customers consider sustainability a key requirement for the businesses they choose to deal with. Sustainability sells. So follow the tips for your industry below to be a more sustainable business and dispose of your trade waste responsibly. Never put food scraps or waste oil into your sink or grease trap – don't even sink about it. 

By making your business more sustainable, you're developing a major selling point for your business, while working towards a better future for Greater Sydney.

If you don't manage your trade wastewater, we may disconnect you from the wastewater system, but the value of acting sustainably isn't just about following the rules. Work with us to help protect Sydney's waterways and make your business more sustainable.

Acting sustainably will: 

  • save you money – as well as the obvious saving for the cost of resources, there can be flow-on savings for water, wastewater, trade wastewater, chemicals and energy. You can also save on maintenance and capital costs of equipment 
  • contribute to a sustainable environment – you'll help reduce demand for resources and you'll also discharge less wastewater into rivers and oceans
  • inspire your staff – build a culture of commitment, creating attitudes that improve morale and carry through to improved customer service. Improved corporate social responsibility leads to greater productivity
  • build your brand and improve your public image  this is especially important when times are tough and the community looks to businesses (even small businesses) to contribute. Sustainability sells.

 

Encouraging sustainability can inspire staff and improve productivity.

Using environmentally friendly products is one way to be a more sustainable business.

As Sydney grows, the load on our wastewater treatment plants increases.

Adopt a sustainability mindset

Think about the potential impacts of all business decisions. There's a lot you can do to be more sustainable that won't cost anything. Follow the basic principles of Avoid – Reduce – Re-use – Recycle. Set targets for the amount of waste produced per cover or car serviced and track your progress. If you can't avoid producing waste, deal with it responsibly and recycle where you can. 


Impacts of commercial trade wastewater

Help us protect Greater Sydney

All wastewater that enters our system comes out somewhere – either in the form of biosolids, recycled water or treated wastewater that's discharged to rivers or the ocean.

The quality of the wastewater coming into our plants directly affects the quality of the recycled waste products we can produce. Learn more about our recycling and re-use programs.

Don't even sink about it

Never use your sink as a garbage disposal. The more waste we keep out of the wastewater system, the better it is for the environment.

  • The more waste you put into the wastewater system, the harder our treatment plants have to work. This uses more energy, water and chemicals to keep up with the high levels of treatment required. The cost of doing this is ultimately passed on to our customers.
  • Solid materials and grease in wastewater can block your property's plumbing and our wastewater system, causing odours and overflows.
  • Fats, oils and grease challenge our treatment systems and can end up in Greater Sydney's rivers and the ocean. 
  • The people who work in and around the wastewater system can be harmed if you discharge dangerous materials.

The quality of wastewater entering our plants directly affects our ability to re-use recycled waste products like biosolids.

All wastewater that enters our system comes out somewhere. We need to manage waste to make sure scenes like this remain possible.

By following the tips on this page, your business can be more sustainable. Help us create a better life for the people of Greater Sydney.


Scraping plates and using a spray rinse valve before washing will minimise greasy waste.

 

Housekeeping tips for retail food

Trade wastewater from retail food activities contains solids, oils and grease. This can cause blockages and overflows in your pipes and overload your pre-treatment system and our wastewater system.

Introducing a few good housekeeping practices will improve the quality of your trade wastewater discharge and reduce your use of vital resources like water and energy.



 

Activities

Tips

Food preparation 

Avoid

  • Be creative with your menu. Develop dishes that will use all of your ingredients, rather than sending useful food to waste. This will also save you money on ingredients.
  • Encourage your suppliers to commit to re-usable containers or at least biodegradable ones. The food service industry uses tons of single-use commercial sized containers in the supply chain. The aim is to divert as many of these containers as possible from landfill. 
  • Offer tap water, rather than bottled water to customers to reduce plastic waste.
  • If your restaurant has its own garden, consider composting vegetable scraps to close the nutrient cycle. You'll grow better produce and save money on artificial fertlisers.

Reduce

  • Buy local, seasonal ingredients – they'll be at their best and fresher, as they won't have as far to travel (saving on energy costs to transport them) ... and you'll be supporting your local suppliers.
  • Feature sustainable proteins on your menu. This could take the form of third-party verified products, or hormone-free meat from a local farmer. 
  • Use sink strainers to catch solid food waste when you're preparing meals.
  • Follow our requirements for in-sink and in-floor waste bucket traps in all sinks and floor wastes in kitchen and food preparation areas. Learn more about grease traps and treatment equipment.
  • Maintain your treatment equipment. Make sure your grease trap is pumped out and cleaned by your Wastesafe contractor to the schedule we've advised.
  • Don't add solvents, enzymes, mutant or natural bacteria, odour control agents and pesticides to grease traps or pre-treatment systems. Not only is it bad for the environment, but it isn't permitted under your agreement with us.
  • We don't allow sink-to-sewer waste disposal units, in-sink food waste disposal units or garbage grinders in business premises. If you're thinking of buying any pre-treatment equipment, please contact us before making any purchases. Make sure to check the equipment against our Listed pre-treatment for food businesses.
  • Wipe or sweep spills – don't hose them into drains. This will not only save water, but prevent greasy food waste from entering the wastewater system.
  • Check your fixtures and appliances for leaks to prevent unnecessary water use – and if it's hot water leaking, you're wasting energy also.
  • Upgrade to efficient lighting. Most people only see the restaurant lighting while they're enjoying their meals but far more energy is used to light the kitchen, prep areas, storage rooms and cool rooms. 

Re-use and recycle

  • Quiet night? Leftover ingredients already prepped? Don't throw it away. Consider sending these to charity organisations that provide meals for the less fortunate.
  • Upgrades to plumbing and fixtures (including recycling) make smarter use of water, thereby reducing their total ‘water footprint’. Any equipment upgrades should come after you 'Avoid' and 'Reduce' use of resources – because otherwise you may size your equipment for resources that you're no longer using.
  • If you have a kitchen garden, consider re-using water from the kitchen to water plants.

Dishwashing and pot washing

Avoid

  • Where there's leftover food on plates, scrape it into a bin (or even better into the compost) – not into the sink
  • Dry wipe plates to remove leftover oils, meat juices and sauces.
  • If you pre-rinse plates and cutlery, use cold water from a smart rinse valve to reduce water use.
  • Use sink strainers to prevent food waste entering the wastewater system.
  • Avoid using bleach or caustic soda. Choose environmentally friendly products when you can.

Reduce

  • Use less detergent – you'll save money and reduce the amount of chemicals entering the wastewater system.
  • Wait for a full load before using the dishwasher.
  • When you're buying dishwashers and bottle washers, make sure they're sized correctly. Think about how many covers you cater for. With dishwashers, bigger isn't always better. Larger appliances use more water and energy. You don't want to run huge machines (wasting water and electricity) for small quantities of dishes.
  • Don't use extremely high water temperatures when washing up. You'll save energy by reducing the water temperature just a few degrees.

Re-use and recycle

  • Encourage the doggy bag. If customers take their leftover food home, you'll have less waste to deal with. Some restaurants even suggest customers bring their own containers with them for leftovers.
  • If you're serving takeaway, use compostable, biodegradable or re-useable containers and service ware instead of plastic and styrofoam. 

Managing waste oil 

Avoid

  • Never pour oil into the sink or directly into a grease trap.

Reduce

  • Size your grease trap for the amount of waste you produce.

Re-use 

  • When changing cooking oil in the deep fryer, find the balance between cooking great food, re-using cooking oil and saving on recycling costs. There's no hard and fast rule about how often deep fryer oil should be changed. It depends on what sort of cooking oil you use, how many hours the oil is in use, how often you use it, what temperature you use the oil at, and how clean your equipment is. If you do re-use oil, filter it regularly and check for a change in smell, colour, viscosity of the oil, frothing, smoking and ultimately the taste of your food.

Recycle

  • Collect used cooking oil and store it in sealed containers in a bunded area ready for a recycler to collect it. Many recycling companies will even supply the containers, for you to fill so they can remove the oils and recycle it off site. British restaurateur and sustainability advocate, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall claims to run his car on used cooking oil from his restaurants!

Restaurant facilities

Reduce

  • Place a bin in the bathrooms to discourage patrons from flushing sanitary items.
  • Display posters reminding customers that only the 3 Ps (pee, poo and paper) belong in the toilet.

Housekeeping tips for motor trades

Trade wastewater from motor trades 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, affect our treatment processes and our ability to produce good quality recycled water and biosolids. Some of these chemicals have the potential to cause explosions.

Introducing a few simple housekeeping practices can improve the quality of your trade wastewater and save water and energy.

Motor trades need to manage their waste and clean up to prevent petrochemicals entering the wastewater system.

 

Mechanical workshop activities

Tips

Damaged vehicle enters the workshop

Motor oil, radiator fluid, brake fluid, battery acid and fuel can leak from damaged vehicles before repair work.

Reduce

  • Wipe up spills immediately, place trays under leaking parts.
  • Don't drain neat fuel or neat oil to a pit that is pumped to your pre-treatment system.
  • Store batteries in a bunded area where waste and spills drain to a blind pit.
  • Use trays to collect drips from the car.

Re-use and recycle

  • Collect and store brake fluid, motor oil and fuel in drums for off-site removal.
  • Collect and store used radiator fluid for off-site removal.
Parts and engine washing

Reduce

  • Use a pressure cleaner and quick break detergent to wash large parts and engines.
Re-use and recycle
  • Ensure used chemical bath is collected and disposed off-site.
  • Wash small parts in a solvent based recycling parts washer.
Floor wash-down/clean up

Avoid

  • Use bunds to prevent wash water leaving the wash area.
  • Use a dry process where the work area is not connected to the wastewater or stormwater systems and the workshop operates without a floor drain or wash bay.
  • Wipe up spills straight away using sawdust, cotton waste or other oil absorbent material.
  • Seal the floor so that it can be mopped or swept – don't use a hose.

Reduce

  • Wash the floor with a quick break detergent and pressure cleaner. 
  • Hose in the direction of the collection well in the wash area.

Re-use and recycle

  • Wash engine parts in a parts wash recycler.

Working on vehicles

Avoid

  • Use a dry process where the work area is not connected to the wastewater or stormwater systems and the workshop operates without a floor drain or wash bay.
  • Wipe up spills straight away using sawdust, cotton waste or other oil absorbent material.
  • Seal the floor so that it can be mopped or swept – don't use a hose.
  • Install bunds to repel rain and stop liquid waste escaping to the sewer or stormwater system. Make sure the car is completely inside the bunded area before starting work.
  • Install a bund around oil storage areas to prevent oil spills and other liquids entering the wastewater or stormwater system.
  • Install a blind pit within the bunded area to collect drainage from the lowest point within the bund.
  • Store batteries in a bunded area on top of a plastic pallet. Waste and spills in this area should drain to a blind pit.

Re-use and recycle

  • Collect and recycle radiator waste.
  • Collect and store waste oils, fuels, solvents, paints and degreasers in separate containers for off-site removal and disposal.
  • Remove batteries off-site for recycling as soon as possible.

Panel beater, car wash and detailing activities

Tips

Damaged vehicle enters the workshop

Motor oil, radiator fluid, brake fluid, battery acid and fuel can leak from damaged vehicles before repair work.

Avoid

  • Store batteries in a bunded area where waste and spills drain to a blind pit.

Reduce

  • Drain all leaking parts that are to be worked on as soon as possible.
  • Wipe up spills immediately, place trays under leaking parts.
  • Don't drain neat fuel or neat oil to a pit that is pumped to your pre-treatment system.

Re-use and recycle

  • Collect and store brake fluid, motor oil and fuel in drums for off-site removal.
  • Collect and store used radiator fluid for off-site removal.
Vehicle re-spraying

There are 2 options for managing this trade wastewater.


Avoid

(No discharge to wastewater system)

  • Minimise wastewater by using a bucket of water to hand run panels and vehicle bodies.
  • Use a dry powder guide coating system or vacuum dry rubbing system.
  • You must pump out contaminated water from the spray booth water curtain and remove it off-site. You must not discharge this wastewater to our wastewater system.
  • Store all paints and thinners in a suitable flammable liquids storage container within a bunded area.

Reduce

  • Install a mesh screen in the collection pit to prevent tape, plastic clips, abrasive paper and other objects entering the pit. This will also protect the pump used with the oil separator.

Car washing and detailing

Tyre black, upholstery cleaners and shiners contain chlorinated hydrocarbons and flammable solvents. Buffing polishes may contain ammonia and petroleum hydrocarbons

 

Reduce

  • Spot clean first.
  • Minimise the use of chemicals to clean and detail vehicles.
  • Where possible choose biodegradable cleaning products.