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."

Latest Update - 1 February 2021

Applications for the disposal of waste beer to our sewerage network from 1 February 2021 will need to be made by contacting

If you are a Pub Chain and submitting beer disposal requests for multiple sites then please complete our bulk application form and send to

Applications received from 1 February 2021 onwards will be assessed on an individual basis and if we can accept it into our network, written approval (with discharge conditions) will be given to the applicant before disposal commences.

For Severn Trent to process your request we will need the following information:

  • Full address including name and post code of the premises at which disposal is requested
  • Contact name, daytime telephone number and email address
  • Volume of beer to dispose of in liters or gallons
  • Requested start date for disposal 

Finally please check prior to contacting Severn Trent that you are connected to the foul network. Any beer you wish to dispose of must not be disposed of down any drain outside the premises or to a soakaway.

If any discharge is made to a septic tank, privatley owned package sewage treatment plant or soakaway, Severn Trent cannot give permission to discharge. You will need to contact the Environment Agency instead.

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, others are returning waste beer to the breweries in line with HMRC and BBPA advice, but it is not always 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 subject to the outcome of our assessment process and conditional approval being given.

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. 

Our approach

In all cases you should contact our support team to apply for discharge permission by emailing

The assessment will be made based upon; 

  • the volume, (typically <1 cubic metre)
  • the flow rate (typically <1 liters /second) 
  • the availability of capacity in the sewerage network and at the receiving sewage treatment works

Records should be maintained of the date, time and the volume of beer discharged and no discharge is made to the surface water system. (Storm drains)

Legislation governing discharge of trade effluent

The disposal of waste beer 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.

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 please email or see our Position Statement (PDF).

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.

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