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 September 2021

Disposing of waste beer during the COVID-19 pandemic

With pubs and restaurants closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic during much of 2020 and early 2021, Severn Trent Water, allowed some waste beer to be disposed of into the sewers subject to the outcome of an assessment process and our conditional approval being given. This service was provided free of normal Trade Effluent charges.

This is not something we would ordinarily encourage under normal circumstances because of the great risk to our treatment processes. Approval was therefore only given where we could be sure there would be no adverse impact upon our assets and hence the wider aquatic environment.  

With the opening up of hospitality venues in England in the summer of 2021 the amount of waste beer requiring disposal has returned to normal pre pandemic levels and Severn Trent Water has received minimal applications for this service during recent months.  

We are therefore now withdrawing this service and returning to our pre pandemic approach with effect from 1st September 2021. We will no longer accept applications to dispose of waste beer or similar products into our sewerage network. The position statement issued in February 2021 therefore no longer applies, and waste beer should not be poured into the drains.

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.

In all cases if you have any queries you should contact our support team for clarification by emailing 

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 or phone 02477716989