Trade Effluent

Disposal of waste beer and/or cider from a public house, club, restaurant or other similar establishments 


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the closure of many business premises. These include public houses, clubs, restaurants and similar establishments. This has resulted in a requirement to dispose of the contents of kegs/casks that have now exceeded their sell by date. Normally these would be returned to source, but our understanding is that this is not possible at the present time.

The disposal of waste beer/cider to sewer is not usually permitted. However given the unprecedented nature of the current situation we may be prepared to allow the discharge of such liquids into our network under certain conditions.

Our approach:

  • As this type of discharge can be a risk to our wastewater treatment works we are requesting notification of each discharge in advance to approve
  • No discharge should take place until written confirmation has been received from United Utilities.
  • We require the discharger to liaise with their associated brewery who will submit the request on their behalf
  • We encourage bulk requests from pub companies over individual requests per pub where possible
  • If the pub is not associated with a brewery you should notify us directly
  • All notifications should be submitted to
  • Please do not submit requests until all the necessary approval has been received from your brewery to dispose of the beer

In order to avoid any delays the following information must be provided for all notifications: 

  • Premise name and full address with postcode
  • Contact details of person at the pub disposing of the beer – telephone numbers & email address
  • Contact details for responses to be sent if a bulk application
  • Total volume of waste beer
  • Proposed date of discharge (If any)
  • If applying for multiple sites please provide this information in table format (i.e. excel). 

This will allow us to assess the potential impact of the discharge. 

If acceptable we will provide written confirmation of the conditions that must be met to discharge the effluent requested safely. 

Please note that under Section 118 of the Water Industry Act 1991, it is a criminal offence to discharge wastewater to the public sewer without the permission of the appropriate Sewerage Undertaker. No discharge should take place prior to formal approval. 

Under the Water Industry Act 1991, any wastewater produced on trade premises (and in pursuit of a trade or business) is defined as ‘trade effluent’. This does not include domestic sewage – which is defined as wastewater produced as a result domestic usage, such as washing, food and drink, or using the toilet.

Trade effluent is any liquid waste (effluent) that is discharged into our public foul sewers from a business or an industrial process. 

If your business involves the manufacture or processing of materials such as chemicals, metal finishing, food and drink manufacture, or even if you operate a car wash or laundrette, and you discharge wastewater into our public foul sewer, then it is likely that the discharge is considered trade effluent. 

In order to discharge trade effluent from a trade premises in the North West to the public sewer you will require permission from United Utilities. We call this a ‘trade effluent consent’ and it is a legal requirement for trade effluent discharges to be agreed with us.

Trade effluent control applies to all businesses, from independent traders to large multi-national companies. Even small discharges of only a few litres a day may require consent. 

If you operate a trade effluent process and require consent to discharge into the public foul sewer. Please contact your retailer who will provide you with the relevant application form to complete and submit on your behalf.

You can search our trade effluent public register for all active consents.

Read more about our trade effluent services within Frequently Asked Questions.

Please also take a look at the following links for further advice:

If you have a spillage or emergency on site

In the event of a spillage of chemicals, product or trade waste at your premises, you’ll need to take action quickly in order to prevent or minimise any discharge to the sewerage network. You should have an Incident Management Procedure in place, and all your employees should be familiar with it; in addition, site drainage plans and Material Safety Data Sheets should be readily available for viewing by the appropriate people. If there has been a spillage, please take the following actions:

  1. As far as possible, please prevent the spilled material from entering any drains on site.
  2. If the spilled material has passed into the site drainage system, please Contact us immediately on 0345 672 3723.

You may also need to contact the Environment Agency.

I want to discharge trade effluent

In order to discharge trade effluent from a trade premises to the public sewer in the North West you will require permission from United Utilities.

Trade effluent