If you’re new to the world of wastewater monitoring, it’s likely one of the first terms you have come across is “trade effluent”. But what is it and what does it mean for your business? We’ve put together a quick guide to explain. 

What is effluent?

As a broad term, effluent includes any liquid waste entering a water body such as rivers or the sea. Most commonly we think of effluent as being sewage, however this is not always the case. Sewage is a form of effluent but not all effluent is sewage!

What is trade effluent?

Trade effluent is wastewater being produced by a business during the course of industrial activity which is potentially harmful to the environment. It can be confusing as not all wastewater produced by businesses is classed as “trade effluent”.

Typically, any wastewater produced by factories, chemical processing and engineering plants, car washes, laundrettes and swimming pools counts, whereas that produced by hairdressers, restaurants/takeaways/pubs/hotels, medical practices, residential homes (e.g. care homes), grocers and office buildings, doesn’t. This is because water companies don’t consider its content high risk enough to complicate processing at water treatment works.

What are the legal requirements for my business?

It is illegal to discharge trade effluent to a public sewer without consent from your water authority. This is because water companies need to know about factors such as its strength, content and volume to make sure their treatment plants can process it correctly, as well as manage potential risks to people or the environment.

To find out more about consent to discharge and applying for a permit, read our guide. You will also be required to monitor your effluent under the government’s MCERTS scheme.

We can help you understand your trade effluent requirements and advise you on your next steps. Get in touch with our team of MCERTS experts today.