About trade waste


Trade waste is any liquid waste, other than domestic sewage, generated from industrial, commercial, retail food, trade or manufacturing business activities.  You must apply for a trade waste consent before you can discharge into the sewer system.

You can learn how to apply for a trade waste consent here.

A trade waste consent stipulates a schedule of standards and lists the type of trade waste we will accept from your business. There are limits to the physical and chemical characteristics of trade waste that we will accept.

Read our statement of approved acceptance criteria to find out more about the criteria for trade waste that we will accept. The characteristics of trade waste discharged must at all times comply with the standards set out in the acceptance criteria.


We are empowered to manage trade waste by the Water Act 1989. Discharging trade waste into the sewer system has the potential to cause harm to our assets, staff, public health and/or the environment.

Therefore, we set requirements and conditions for accepting trade waste to ensure these risks are effectively managed to enable us to achieve our key objectives:

  • Protect the health and safety of people working in the sewer system
  • Protect sewerage systems
  • Protect the wastewater recycling and treatment works
  • Minimise environmental impacts
  • Maximise opportunities for reuse of recycled water
  • Maximise opportunities for the reuse of biosolids

We review your trade waste application to assess whether reasonable steps have been taken or need to be taken to improve the quality and/or reduce the volume of trade waste generated. We then assess whether it’s acceptable for us to accept the waste and assign all trade waste customers a risk ranking based on several factors including industry type, trade waste volume and quality, and past performance. This ranking determines the frequency of site inspections, self-monitoring, and sampling requirements.

We also ensure that trade waste consents are being complied with. If you fail to meet one or more of the conditions set out in your trade waste consent, we will commence our three-stage non-compliance process. This begins with issuing an initial non-compliance notice where you will be required to remedy the problem within a short, specified period. Asset protection and/or administration fees may be also charged. If compliance is not addressed, we may then issue a notice of contravention under section 151 of the Water Act 1989 where you may be fined and required to cease discharging or be disconnected from the sewer system.

Important documents


It is up to everyone to safely manage their waste. It is an offence to discharge trade waste without holding a trade waste consent.

Before you can discharge trade waste, you need to submit a trade waste application to us. You can easily apply for trade waste consent here.

You also need to take reasonable steps to eliminate or minimise the risks of harm to human health and the environment from your waste discharge. Learn more by visiting EPA Victoria and by adopting cleaner production methods.

As a trade waste discharger, you have an obligation to take all reasonable steps to investigate alternatives to waste disposal i.e. avoid, reduce, re-use or recycle your waste.
Examples are:

  • Installing pre-treatment apparatus to treat waste to an acceptable level or
  • Implementing other cleaner production processes to manage waste to an acceptable level before it enters the sewer system
  • Ensure treatment apparatus are installed by accredited / licenced personnel
  • Have an up-to date trade waste consent
  • Pay trade waste charges
  • Self-monitor trade waste discharges
  • Maintain trade waste apparatus e.g. pump out food and oil interceptors
  • Notify South East Water of any breaches to your consent
  • Prevent and address non-compliances
  • Prepare waste minimisation plans and risk profiles
  • Cancel your consent when leaving the property to avoid ongoing fees

You must ensure your plumber lodges a plumbing application through PropertyConnect prior to connecting any treatment apparatus to the sewerage system. 

Council and/or EPA approvals may also be required. It is up to each trade waste customer to ensure they have obtained all the correct approvals required to operate their business.


Steps for cleaner production

If you’d like your organisation’s production methods to be cleaner, follow these steps:

1. Plan and organise

Develop indicative targets, goals and objectives of what you would like to achieve. For example, you may want to aim for a 10 per cent reduction in waste, water, energy and/or labour costs. Identify the staff who will work on a resource efficiency team.

2. Conduct a site assessment and develop a process map

Start from where goods enter the factory, through to processing and finally where goods are packaged and stored for delivery. Develop a flow diagram for the site to identify where materials are travelling throughout the site. This will help conduct a mass balance for the site.

3. Collect and record data

Record and review utility data against production output for the previous two years. This will help to identify your business’ performance and develop a snapshot of the current processes for which to benchmark against these changes. Determine how much your waste is costing you. (Include loss of raw materials, labour, energy, water and trade waste).

4. Develop an action plan

Develop a Resource Management Action Plan and follow these guidelines:

  • Make the plan outcome focused.
  • Make your plan simple and easy to follow.
  • Assign timelines and responsibilities to key personnel.
  • Tackle the simplest, most cost-effective issues first and develop the plan from there.

5. Implement your action plan

When implementing your action plan, keep the following points in mind:

  • Prioritise actions from the most cost-effective with no capital costs to those that may require capital investment.
  • Identify where the largest percentage of waste is being generated and target this area first.
  • Start with opportunities that have direct financial benefits for no capital expenditure.
  • Track and chart all actions and progress.
  • Encourage continuous feedback and rewards for staff.
  • Keep it simple.

6. Monitoring and continuous improvement

Once you’ve implemented the actions, it’s important to monitor performance to look for opportunities for continuous improvement.

  • Monitor and track results
  • Continuous feedback and rewards for staff
  • Look at justifying any capital expenditure with costs saved through the program
  • Set new targets, goals and objectives
  • Start the process again and look for opportunities

Remember this is not a one-off project – it should become part of your business’ daily operations.

Food and oil interceptors

Learn more about installing and managing food and oil interceptors for your business.

Plumbers' Standard Drawings and Guidelines

Minimum requirements for commercial and industrial trade waste treatment equipment available for download.


Portal for waste transporters to record customer food and oil interceptor pump-outs.

Get in touch with our trade waste team

We're here to  help

Call us
03 9552 3662

8 am - 4 pm, Monday - Friday