Everything You Need To Know About Trade Effluent (2024)

Editorial Team

Everything You Need To Know About Trade Effluent

If you run any business in the modern age – commercial, industrial, or agricultural – you’ll need to know about trade effluent.

It is vital to educate yourself about the different trade effluent licences and the limitations a licence will permit.

Ensuring you are up to date with trade effluent information will help you make the right choice for your operation and ensure that your business remains legally operational.

An oversight in trade effluent licence can not only cost your business dearly but can even result in jail time in extreme cases – for example, failure to possess the right trade effluent licence leading to effluent discharges that cause irreversible environmental damage.

Read on below to find out more about trade effluent.

What Is Trade Effluent

Trade effluent is how businesses handle their water supply and manage any wastewater they generate during their day-to-day operations. Trade effluent is vastly different from domestic sewage in that it will contain contaminants that cannot be discharged into a local environment as domestic waste can.

Different trade effluent licences will grant your operation limitations and conditions for disposing contaminated sewage. These conditions and limitations must be followed as they are carefully managed, monitored, and planned by hazardous waste experts.

If you are with a water company, they will likely have experts on hand to assess your operation’s need for a trade effluent licence and will help your operation apply for the appropriate licence.

Every business will have different wastewater disposal demands, which is why you consult an expert. Demands can also change over time if you upscale or downscale your operation, so regular assessment of trade effluent needs is advisable.

Industrial Wastewater Treatment

Almost all industrial operations will require a trade effluent licence to safely dispose of any run-off or wastewater that must be treated before re-entering the water cycle.

The licence you need and wastewater management services that’ll be appropriate for your operation must be determined by experts. For instance, a metal car part manufacturer will need vastly different trade effluent allowances from a wheat farm.


Why Is It Important?

Attaining the right licence is important for several reasons. The first and core reason is that inappropriate disposal of contaminated wastewater can have dire consequences for local ecosystems and water sources. The damage that harsh chemicals can do to water sources and wildlife, if disposed of inappropriately, can frequently be irreversible.

Having the right licence can also land you in legal trouble, even if you dispose of your waste correctly. For instance, disposing of more affluent than your licence grants can open your operation up to fraud claims or land your operation with large fines.

In addition, if you are transporting your contaminated waste on public roads, you’ll need the correct certifications.


When Do I Need A Trade Effluent Licence?

If your business produces contaminants such as:

  • Acids
  • Paints
  • Oils
  • Grease and Fats
  • Food/biological waste
  • Detergents
  • Metal run-offs
  • Fertilisers
  • Chemicals

Then you’ll need to look into getting the appropriate trade effluent licence. It is important to note that domestic sewage (even if produced by a business) won’t need a trade effluent licence. This includes:

  • Sink wastewater
  • Toilet wastewater
  • Shower wastewater
  • Clean rainwater run-off
  • Uncontaminated surface water run-off

Who Would Need A Trade Effluent Licence?

There’s no definitive list of businesses that will require a trade effluent licence, and it is almost always the case that it is assessed on a case-by-case basis whether or not you’d require a trade effluent licence.

However, examples of some businesses that will likely require a trade effluent licence are:

  • Laundrettes
  • Car wash businesses
  • Businesses that produce food
  • Breweries or businesses that produce drinks
  • Businesses that manufacture chemicals of any kind
  • Swimming pools
  • Leisure centres
  • Businesses that engineer products (from car part factories to electronic part factories)
  • Mines and quarries
  • Farms (depends on a case-by-case basis)

Examples of businesses that may not need a trade effluent licence could be:

  • Cafes
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels (depending on facilities available)
  • Offices
  • Small Grocery shops
  • Pubs (depends on facilities)

That being said, it is always best to double-check with experts whether or not you’ll need a licence. Trying to assess this yourself is not advised.


How Do I Apply For A Trade Effluent Licence?

It is often best to get in touch with your water company to arrange an assessment of your business and to handle the process of applying for the right licence. You’ll need to assess if you need the following:

  • Bespoke Permit
  • Standard Rules Permit

All the documentation can be accessed via the UK government website to make an application.


Trade effluent licences are vital to any industrial business’s safe and smooth operation. Be sure to consult experts and attain the right licence before conducting business!