Understanding trade effluent

The Water Industry Act 1991 defines trade effluent as “any liquid, either with or without particles of matter in suspension in the liquid, which is wholly or partly produced in the course of any trade or industry carried on at a trade premises."

Disposing of waste beer during the COVID-19 pandemic

With pubs and restaurants closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and breweries unable to move already produced stock, many of those businesses are having to find ways to dispose of beers and other alcohols with relatively short shelf lives.

Some are giving away and selling produce where possible, but it’s not necessarily possible to effectively dispose of all their stock in this way.

During the pandemic, we will allow some beer to be disposed of into the waste water network.

This is not something we would ever encourage under normal circumstances, but during these challenging times, we want to be able to help where we can. 

Discharging volumes up to 1 cubic metre

Each enquiry will be assessed individually, but generally you will be able to dispose of waste beer into our waste network, without formal consent, during the pandemic, if you meet the following conditions:

  • The volume of waste beer discharged does not exceed 1 cubic metre 
  • It does not discharge to the surface water system
  • It does not contain solid material which is likely to block the sewerage system 
  • The flow is such that it does not surcharge local sewers and cause flooding

Discharging volumes of over 1 cubic metre

Disposal of beer in volumes in excess of 1 cubic metre will need to be controlled. 

These larger disposals will require a Short Term Discharge Authorisation. 

If you expect your discharging to last for less than 6 months, you can apply for Short Term Discharge Authorisation directly from us by emailing

If you expect the discharge to last for more than 6 months, you will need to make a formal application for consent through your nominated Retailer.

Legislation governing discharge of trade effluent

The discharge is still governed by legislation. 

Section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 makes it an offence to discharge anything to a sewer which will adversely impact on the sewerage network or receiving waste water treatment works.

Make sure your discharge of trade effluent is legal

You need to be sure that the flow of the effluent you dispose of will not surcharge sewers and cause flooding. 

Email us if you have any questions or concerns

If you are unsure whether your discharge of beer is covered by the Position Statement (PDF) or is likely to cause surcharging, please send an email to at least 7 working days before you want to begin disposing of the beer.

We will reply to your email to confirm whether your plans are covered and what you need to do.

Anything that isn’t domestic sewage (toilet, bath or hand wash waste) or uncontaminated surface water and roof drainage (rainwater) is classified as trade effluent. It’s essential that we’re made fully aware of any trade effluent produced at commercial or business premises, so that we’re able to treat it safely. This includes any waste water derived from a production process or from washing down or cooling activities.

What if there’s an on-site spillage?

Take prompt action to prevent or minimise any discharge to your site drains and the sewerage network. Any material spilled should be prevented from entering drains if possible, but if any does get into the site drainage system call us immediately on 0800 783 4444 with details of the substances involved, location of the spillage and likely quantities discharged.

As an additional safety measure we recommend that site drainage plans and safety data sheets are readily available to employees at all times. It’s also essential that incident procedure plans are in place and that all employees are familiar with them.

Do I need consent for my trade effluent?

We need to know if you plan to discharge anything other than domestic waste into a drain that is connected to a public sewer. It’s your responsibility to obtain consent prior to  commencing any trade effluent discharge. It is a criminal offence under Section 118 (5) of the Water Industry Act to discharge any trade effluent to sewer without the consent of the
sewerage undertaker (Severn Trent). You may be subject to legal action and large fines if you discharge without consent.

If your business manufactures or processes materials such as chemicals, metal finishing, food and drink, or if you operate a small launderette or car wash, it’s likely you’ll need trade effluent consent from Severn Trent. Short-term discharges, for example contaminated groundwater from land remediation/building projects or the flushing of central heating/cooling
systems, are subject to temporary trade effluent authorisation.

Want to know more about trade effluent? Get in touch today.

We’ll be happy to discuss any issues relating to your waste water discharges.

Write to:
Trade Effluent Support Team
West Service Road
Derby DE21 7BE.

Or email