Pricing for Trade Waste Permits is changing from July 2023

From 1 July 2023, we’re moving from a flat fee of $350 to a tiered pricing structure for all Category 1 Trade Waste Permits.

The new pricing structure introduces Treatment Tiers that are allocated to businesses based on their type of business, the liquid waste they generate and the impact on the wastewater network. The higher the trade waste impact, the more it costs to treat and therefore the higher the Treatment Tier.

Fees will increase under the new pricing structure and we’re doing all that we can to ease the transition. The change will be phased in over two years and there is a discount in year one.

New Trade Waste Permit fees

The current Trade Waste Permit fee that we have been charging doesn’t accurately reflect the significant costs of treating trade waste to keep the wastewater system operating efficiently and to keep our environment safe and healthy. 

We’re introducing new prices because the existing one-size-fits-all trade waste pricing structure is outdated and not financially sustainable. It doesn’t represent the diverse types of business in our region or the varying levels of impact that their waste has on our network.

Tier-based pricing brings Unitywater into line with standard industry practice and is consistent with pricing structures at other utilities across South East Queensland and Australia.

The new pricing starts from 1 July 2023 and the first bill featuring your new, discounted quarterly fee (for first year only), will be issued in October 2023

Treatment Tier Annual permit fee 2023-24*
Discounted in first year and billed quarterly
Annual permit fee 2024-25*
Billed quarterly
Very low $460.00 $570.00
Low $740.00 $1,130.00
Medium $970.00 $1,590.00
High $1,365.00 $2,380.00
Very high $1,960.00 $3,570.00


*GST is not applicable on any of the above trade waste charges. Permit fees will be charged quarterly in arrears from July 2023, with the first bill featuring the new prices arriving in October 2023

Treatment Tier FAQs

Unitywater is moving to tier-based pricing for Trade Waste Permits. From 1 July 2023, Treatment Tiers will replace the single, flat-rate annual fee of $350. (This is the current flat rate for Category 1 permits that is being charged to businesses for the 2022-23 financial year.)

Under the new pricing structure, businesses will fit into a Treatment Tier – ranging from Very Low to Very High for food and beverage-related businesses; or Very Low to High for non-food related businesses.

The higher the impact of your trade waste, the more it costs to treat, and the higher your Treatment Tier. The Treatment Tier is assigned to your business following a thorough individual assessment based on your business type, the type of waste generated, and the likely impact on the network and environment.

This new pricing structure only applies to Category 1 Trade Waste Permits and does not apply to the following business:

  • Businesses that are not required to have a Trade Waste Permit because they produce domestic-type waste that is similar in strength and volume to household waste - such as offices, home-based businesses and non-food retailers.

  • Large industrial or manufacturing businesses that have a dedicated trade waste meter installed to measure the volume of their waste, and currently pay Category 2 trade waste strength and volume charges, which already reflect the real impact and cost of treating their waste.

The new pricing structure enables Unitywater to continue safeguarding public health and the environment by delivering sustainable trade waste treatment services that keep our communities healthy, safe and ready for business now and into the future. 

To date, we’ve charged businesses that require a trade waste permit a single, flat-rate annual Category 1 fee of $350 (2022-23 financial year), regardless of the type or volume of their trade waste. This has meant that everyone, whether they own a small coffee shop or a large 24/7 fast food restaurant, a large car wash or a small laundromat – has paid the same amount to Unitywater to safely treat trade waste.

The new pricing structure aims to create an equitable set of fees where businesses that generate trade waste contribute to the actual costs of treating it, so that these costs are not shared across our entire customer base. 

Tiered pricing more accurately reflects the diverse types of businesses in our region, the varying levels of impact that their waste has on the wastewater network and the true cost of additional treatment required to keep our networks, our communities and our environment safe.

These additional 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.

The existing one-size-fits-all trade waste pricing structure is outdated, does not align with current industry practice and is not consistent with pricing structures for other South East Queensland utilities.

From April 2022, Unitywater met with industry representatives and business associations to discuss upcoming changes and invite feedback. These conversations were instrumental in making sure we understood the current business climate and challenges. 

In July and August 2022, Unitywater approached all trade waste customers by email, inviting nominations to be part of a Customer Reference Group.  A 12-person Customer Reference Group was formed and held online meetings to discuss and deliberate on the issue in September and October 2022. Unitywater advised customers about the new approach to pricing in November 2022.

We followed up with communications in early March 2023 to advise customers about their specific Treatment Tier, how they were assessed, and the details of their forecast new fees. 

We have updated our website and created a dedicated online hub containing all the relevant information for customers. This includes a Treatment Tier Calculator, fact sheets and FAQs, as well as a platform within the Community Hub for customers to ask questions and receive answers. The link is here: mid-March 2023, we held customer information sessions at various locations across the region for trade waste customers to speak to our team in person.

We know there is never a right time to increase prices and we are here to support customers through the transition. We will support business owners wanting to request a review of their Treatment Tier by completing the online calculator and review form.

We will switch to billing quarterly instead of annually – allowing costs to be spread out over a year. We are providing a discounted fee in year one, to ease the transition to the new pricing.

We are also available to speak with any customers who need information about payment plans, direct debit and other ways we can help anyone experiencing hardship. Customers are welcome to talk to us by emailing or calling 07 5353 5530.

Treatment Tiers are determined based on an assessment of specific attributes of your business.

Food and beverage-related businesses

We assess each business against the following key criteria:

  • Food type: oilier, fattier, cream-based foods have a more significant impact on the wastewater network.

  • Food preparation method: deep frying, grilling or roasting food contributes higher trade waste loads at the treatment plant.

  • Kitchen facilities: large commercial-sized kitchens can produce larger volumes of higher-impact waste.

  • Customer turnover: higher seating capacity and customer turnover typically increase the amount of trade waste generated.

  • Trading hours: longer, more regular trading hours contribute higher volumes of trade waste. 

  • Number of trade waste sources: a business with multiple trade waste sources, for example a kitchen plus laundry plus workshop, has a higher impact on the wastewater network.

Then we assign you a Treatment Tier ranging from Low to Very High.

Food Business Treatment Tiers diagram

If you have or are looking to purchase a food and beverage related business, please download the Trade Waste Pricing Changes - Food and Beverages Businesses Factsheet (PDF).

Non-food related businesses

Most of Unitywater’s non-food business customers have already gone through an extensive trade waste application and hydraulic assessment process to determine their trade waste output and the size of the pre-treatment device required. New trade waste customers also go through this

Pre-treatment device capacity (litres per hour) is often the best indicator of trade waste impact for
this diverse range of businesses and is used to determine the Treatment Tier for non-food

You can find information about your pre-treatment device capacity on your business premise's hydraulics plans.

Non-Food Businesses Treatment Tiers diagram

If you have or are looking to purchase a non-food-related business, please download the Trade Waste Pricing Changes - Non-Food Businesses Factsheet (PDF).

Unitywater assesses your business to confirm which Treatment Tier best applies to you. We’ll let you know your business’ Treatment Tier and pricing details in early March 2023.

If your Treatment Tier doesn't seem quite right, you can request a review by using our online Treatment Tier Calculator

While your business may have a pre-treatment device (such as a grease arrestor, neutralising trap, dilution tanks, oil and water separators and lint screens) in place, these devices only capture solid or partially treat and prevent trade waste from entering the sewer system. 

They do not stop dissolved oils, fats, chemicals and other contaminants still passing through and posing a serious risk to the sewerage system and treatment plants. This requires further treatment, such as adding chemicals into the sewer to prevent odour and corrosion, and additional cleaning of the pipes to prevent blockages and overflows.

If you have a question about the new pricing, your assessment or Treatment Tier, there are a number of ways to contact us: