All about trade waste

Wastewater generated by industry, small business and commercial enterprise is referred to as trade waste.

Trade waste can be very different to regular household wastewater because it may contain fats, oils and greases and/or toxic or harmful substances such as acids, petroleum products, heavy metals, solids, organic solvents or chlorinated organics.

What impact can trade waste have on the environment?

Uncontrolled or illegal discharge of trade waste may cause serious problems in the wastewater system such as overflows and overloading, blockages, corrosion, hazardous work environments and failure of the sewage purification process.

Trade waste can impose an additional load on the wastewater system, and therefore requires extra, and more costly, treatment to keep our communities, the environment and our network safe.

There are additional costs to manage and treat trade waste safely and effectively. These costs go towards the extra chemicals, cleaning and electricity required to treat trade waste so that it does not pollute our environment, harm our people or cause blockages, overflows or damage to our network.

Sensitive, careful and effective wastewater treatment, which removes trade waste contaminants, is a critical safeguard for public health and the environment.

Trade Waste Permit

If you own a business which generates trade waste, you are required under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 to apply to Unitywater for a permit. Trade Waste Permit Fees go towards the complex, costly and essential process of treating wastewater generated by business (trade waste). 

Treatment tiers were rolled out from July 2023. Treatment tiers are determined based on the impact of your businesses trade waste on the sewage network. 

 Trade Waste fees and charges

Unitywater safely manages trade waste as part of its essential wastewater treatment services to reduce environmental impacts and ensure the health and safety of customers and the community.

Trade waste must be carefully managed to reduce both short and long-term impacts on the wastewater network.

Trade waste can:

  • create gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, increasing the potential for odour

  • damage sewerage infrastructure from corrosion. cause blockages and 'fatbergs' in the sewerage network from the oils, grease and solids

  • upset the treatment process and damage pumps

  • pollute the environment and waterways if untreated

  • impact downstream recycling of water and reuse of biosolids.

Trade waste fees apply, which contribute to the cost of providing services associated with managing the trade waste.

To update your permit due to sale of business or change of ownership:

  • The old owner is required to complete and submit the following form:

Cancellation of Trade Waste Permit (PDF 374KB

  • The new owner is required to complete and submit the following form, after which they will be sent an account for the annual permit fee

Apply for a trade waste permit (PDF 229KB)

Trade Waste Policy and Management Plan

We have introduced a streamlined Trade Waste Policy (PDF 92KB) to ensure we comply with current state legislation and have a consistent approach to trade waste management across the Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Noosa regions which incorporates National Best Practice Principles from the WSA Guidelines.

We are also committed to minimising the environmental impact of trade waste and providing a greater emphasis on user-pays.

The following requirements apply to Unitywater's Trade Waste Policy: 

  1. All permits and agreements are issued directly to the business owner.
  2. Trade waste business owners will be responsible for trade waste discharge under the conditions set out in the permit, fees and charges.
  3. There are three standardised categories of trade waste customers: high risk, medium risk and low risk depending on the level of risk associated with the waste.

Unitywater has also developed a Trade Waste Management Plan (PDF 596KB) which outlines the day-to-day management of trade waste discharges to the sewer.

Trade Waste Legislation

Trade waste approvals are issued in accordance with the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 refer Part 6 sections 180 to 186.

It is an offence to discharge trade waste to the sewer without an approval (deemed, permit or agreement) refer to Part 7 Sections 193 of the Act.

The Act specifies that the service provider (Unitywater) must consider certain things when assessing applications to discharge trade waste to the sewer refer Part 6 sections 180. 

Relevant Legislation:

Also refer to Unitywater’s Trade Waste Policy (PDF 92KB)

Liquid waste carriers are private contractors who can collect, transport and discharge liquid waste into Unitywater’s sewerage system provided they have an agreement with us.

Find out more

New businesses

A Trade Waste Search is recommended if you are purchasing a business that generates trade waste. It will inform you of any existing trade waste activity on a property. Find out more about what the search will show you and how to request a Trade Waste Search. 

Request a Trade Waste Search

A Trade Waste Permit is required for:

  • Businesses that wash or clean any utensil or equipment and discharge the wastewater into the sewerage network. These businesses are required to install grease traps as part of their Trade Waste Agreement with Unitywater.

  • Businesses that produce non-domestic liquid waste containing chemicals or residue from a commercial or industrial process. These businesses are required to install pre-treatment devices as part of their Trade Waste Agreement with Unitywater.

Apply for a Trade Waste Permit

Please complete this form and return it to Unitywater.

 Apply for a trade waste permit (PDF 229KB)

Prior to submitting a plumbing application (to council) that incorporates trade waste, you are required to submit your permit application to our Trade Waste team along with:

  1. A hydraulic plan detailing fixtures, and the pre-treatment device/s and manufacture details.
  2. Plan assessment application (PDF 83KB). Plan assessments are undertaken to ensure what is proposed on the hydraulic plans will not have any harmful effects on the sewer network. The hydraulic plans show the proposed fixture rating and pre-treatment devices to be installed. The applicant will be notified in writing whether the proposal is satisfactory and a Letter of Approval will be supplied which will be required by the relevant Council as part of the plumbing assessment. This application requires payment of plan assessment fee.

Unitywater has three types of Trade Waste Discharge Permits (high risk, medium risk and low risk). They are categorised by the level of risk associated with the waste. Upon application, we will assess your level of risk and will assign the relevant Trade Waste Discharge Permit classification. Please refer to the risk assessment on page 15 of the Trade Waste Management Plan (PDF 596KB).

Trade waste includes liquid waste such as oil, grease and chemicals. When discharged directly into the sewerage network, trade waste can overload treatment plants, cause blockages and overflows, and pollute waterways.

Pre-treatment devices are owned and maintained by the business or property owner.

Pre-treatment devices

Existing businesses

If there have been changes to your business and you need to update your Trade Waste Permit details, such as changing the mailing address or updating contact details, please submit the form below, completing only your Account Name and any relevant changes. 

Please complete this form and return it to Unitywater.

Apply for a trade waste permit (PDF 229KB)


Please complete the following form and submit it to Unitywater to ensure future trade waste fees are not applied:

Please note: There are no refunds or part refunds on any permit issued, and permits are not transferable.

Cancellation of Trade Waste Permit

Need a quick guide to trade waste?

Supporting our customers

Unitywater is here to support our local business community. If you would like to spread out your Trade Waste Permit fees over 12 months, please call our friendly Customer Service team on 1300 086 489 to set up a direct debit.

For more information about your trade waste permit fee, please contact