Trade Waste

What is trade waste?

Trade waste is waterborne waste from any commercial or industrial activity that is discharged to the sewer.

Trade waste excludes domestic wastewater, for example toilets, showers, hand washing and non-commercial kitchens.

The owner of the property is the trade waste approval holder, as per the Townsville City Council Trade Waste Management Plan. Property owners are charged separately on their rates notice for trade waste discharged to the sewerage system.


Trade Waste Approval holders who have experienced a shut down or reduced trading conditions can apply for the service frequency of their pre-treatment devices to be re-assessed as a result of the changed trading conditions.

The approval holder or approval holders representative is to complete the Application for Suspension or Reduced Servicing of Pre-treatment devices form and return it to the email address at the bottom of the form.

Who needs a trade waste approval?

The sewerage system is designed for domestic waste. The owner of a commercial, private or industrial property must have a trade waste approval if a business operating from the property discharges wastewater to the sewer (other than domestic wastewater, i.e. toilets, showers, hand washing and non-commercial kitchens).

Trade Waste Categories - Business types that require trade waste approval

Commercial Customers

Industrial customers

Industrial customers (Category 2) have a type of waste that:

  • has varying concentrations of several different contaminants
  • requires pre-treatment other than basic pre-treatment
  • after pre-treatment, still has contaminants in concentrations that exceed council’s sewer admission limits.

Industrial generators may include, but are not limited to:

  • food and beverage manufacturers
  • industrial laundries
  • chemical manufacturers
  • petrochemical industries
  • metal finishers
  • abattoirs
  • waste processors
  • laboratories (other than school laboratories)
  • hospitals
  • universities.

Industrial customers are expected to install sufficient pre-treatment devices or systems to ensure the discharge quality meets council’s sewer admission limits. It is the responsibility of the approval holder to design the type of pre-treatment required, as well as the operation and maintenance strategy.

The proposed facility will be assessed as part of the approval process.

Risk rating assessment

Each trade waste application will be assessed for the level of risk that the discharge poses to the sewerage system, including its impact on infrastructure, the treatment process, the quality of the effluent or bio-solids, the health and safety risks, and the risk of non-compliance events.

The assessed risk rating is used to prioritise trade waste management activities, guide the assessment process, influence the approval term and determine the annual access fee.

The majority of customers are Risk Rating 5, requiring twice-yearly inspections. For more information about categories and risks, refer to the Trade Waste Management Plan.

Back to top

Sewer admission limits

An application for trade waste approval is assessed against the Trade Waste Management Plan and, specifically, the Sewer Admission Limits.

The sewer admission limits provide a guide to the acceptable concentrations of pollutants that can be discharged. Any trade waste that does not meet the sewer admission limits will require pre-treatment before discharge.

Basic pre-treatment includes sink strainers, grease interceptor traps and oil separators. Industrial waste may require more complex pre-treatment

How to apply for a trade waste approval

You must apply for a trade waste approval when new trade waste is generated and discharged to council’s sewerage system from your premises.

Applicants are encouraged to contact council early in a project cycle to ensure required pre-treatment equipment is appropriately designed and installed. Council does not take any responsibility for new developments that have inadequate or under-sized pre-treatment.

To apply for or amend a trade waste approval, you will need to submit an application to discharge trade waste to the sewer, download the PDF OR apply online. For help, contact Council on 13 48 10 or

A trade waste approval must be issued before any associated hydraulic approval is granted or operations under a food licence commence.

Trade waste charges

To recover the cost of managing the additional load trade waste imposes on the sewerage system, trade waste charges apply. Charges are based on the nature of the waste generated and the risk that the discharge poses to the sewerage system.

Each customer is charged an annual access fee and, in most cases, a volume charge, levied on the twice-yearly council rate notices as a utility charge.

For more information, see the Trade Waste Charges Information Sheet.

More information

These information factsheets have been designed to answer common queries.

These documents are also available for download:

For more information on trade waste, contact the Assets and Hydraulics Unit on 13 48 10 or

Back to top

ISO-9001 MarkISO-14001-Mark