Trade waste

What is Trade waste?

Trade waste is a water-borne waste (liquid) discharged from any business or premises to Council’s sewerage system.

It can be trade or factory waste, fats, oils, grease, solids and/or other impurities.  The most common trade waste generators in Cairns are commercial businesses such as food outlets, laundromats, service stations and vehicle workshops. Our Trade Waste Plan ( PDF, 2.01 MB ) contains a full list of businesses that typically generate trade waste.

Trade Waste does not include storm water, unpolluted water, prohibited substances* or domestic wastewater liquids from hand basin, shower, bath or toilet. (See Schedule 2 of the Trade Waste Plan for a list of prohibited discharges.)

Business obligations

By law, businesses must manage trade waste correctly.

If your business disposes of anything other than domestic sewage (liquid from hand basin, shower, bath or toilet) into drains, you need to apply for a Trade Waste Approval. Refer to the application process outlined below.

You should check with Council prior to starting or taking over a business (including a home-based business). If you are unsure if your business discharges trade waste, please refer to the Trade Waste Plan   ( PDF, 2.01 MB ) or contact our Trade Waste Team by phone (07) 4044 8235 or email


Pre-treatment systems work by separating the fats, oils, grease and solids which allows the wastewater to travel through Council’s sewerage system..

If a pre-treatment system is required, you must engage a licensed plumber and drainer to do the installation and associated work.  You must also engage a licensed liquid waste carrier service to regularly clean the system and take the collected waste to a commercial waste treatment facility.

Trade Waste Approval application process

1. Contact Council

Contact our Trade Waste Team when starting a new business or taking over an existing one (including a home-based business). A Trade Waste Officer will advise of any applicable trade waste requirements.

2. Engage a plumber

A licensed plumber and drainer must carry out all work associated with installing a pre-treatment system. The licensed plumber is required to lodge a Plumbing Application with Council’s Plumbing Unit, along with the necessary plans and fees before it can be installed.

3. Inspection and certification

A plumbing inspector will carry out an inspection once the Plumbing Application is completed, fees have been processed, and pre-treatment system installed. A plumbing certificate will be issued for the completion of the work.

4. Application and approval

The business can then complete a Trade Waste Approval application online application form;  (fees apply).

A Council Trade Waste Officer will conduct a final inspection to ensure the correct disposal of trade waste. The approval process can take up to 5 business days after the business has started trading. (Supplying incomplete information can result in delays in processing the application.)

A renewal fee is required for each year of discharging, issued annually on the renewal date.

For download

Last updated: 08 December 2020