What is trade wastewater?
Wastewater from your dry cleaning operation (sometimes called trade wastewater) is any water contaminated as a result of your business activity. Wastewater from businesses may contain pollutants such as chlorinated hydrocarbons, suspended solids, grease and other chemicals. Trade wastewater does not include the wastes from toilets, noncommercial kitchen or washing facilities.
The volume of trade wastewater from individual dry cleaning premises is very low, but the combination of all dry cleaning operations discharging chlorinated hydrocarbons to sewer systems is significant and must be minimised at source.
Perchloroethylene (PERC) is a solvent and as a waste by-product is classified as a hazardous waste.
Do you need a trade waste permit to dispose of trade wastewater?
Sydney Water Corporation's Trade Waste Policy and Management Plan 2001 allows dry cleaning operations to discharge trade wastewater to the sewer without requiring an individual written permit. This allowance is subject to meeting certain specified requirements.
Trade wastewater generated from dry cleaning processes must pass through a suitable solvent recovery unit prior to being discharged to the sewer. The operator must also have a suitable maintenance program and records in place that demonstrates regular maintenance.
Sydney Water Corporation and the Hunter Water Corporation have trade waste officers who will give you advice on your wastewater requirements.
You should know that illegal discharges to the sewer might result in disconnection from the sewer system, fines or prosecution.
Which wastewater utility do you need to contact?
Sydney Water Corporation in the Sydney metropolitan, Blue Mountains and Illawarra regions, and Hunter Water Corporation in the Hunter region, are the two major wastewater utilities in NSW. Outside these areas councils manage trade wastewater and may require businesses to have trade waste facilities and a permit.
Is there any other way to dispose of liquid waste (wastewater) from your business?
If you are not connected to the sewer, and/or your liquid waste cannot be directed to the sewer even after pre-treatment, then you will need to collect the liquid waste in drums or tanks and have the containers transported to a licensed waste facility. All tanks and drums containing liquid wastes should be stored in a roofed and bunded area.
What can dry cleaners do to improve wastewater discharges?
One way to improve your business's environmental performance and minimise costs is to reduce the amount of PERC in wastewater and/or reduce the amount of wastewater discharged to the sewer. There are a number of wastewater treatment units available on the market. Evaporation through heating coils, atomisers or carbon filtration are the most common techniques available to treat wastewater containing PERC.
A new solvent recovery unit has enabled a South Australian dry cleaning operation to recover and reuse the solvent Perchloroethylene which previously formed up
to 35 percent of the operations total waste stream.
Since the solvent extraction unit was installed the solvent component of the waste has reduced to 5 percent with further reductions to 1 percent expected in the future. Concurrently, a 20 percent reduction in waste oil disposal has also been achieved. Recovering solvent from wastewater, which was previously disposed of, has resulted in savings to the company of $20,000 per annum.
The increase in equipment efficiency has also meant an increase in production, resulting in a saving of approximately 2 hours previously required overtime per day, which equates to a further saving of $7,800 per annum.
Source: Department for Environment and Heritage, South Australian Environment Protection Agency
- DECC Environment Line, Tel: 131 555
- Sydney Water Corporation, Tel: 132 092
- Hunter Water Corporation, Tel: 1300 657 657
- Your local council for areas not covered by Sydney Water Corporation or Hunter Water Corporation
- Drycleaning Institute of Australia (NSW), Tel: 9328 4626
- Yellow Pages look under 'Sewage & Wastewater Treatment', 'Effluent Treatment Equipment & Services' and 'Environmental & Pollution Consultants'.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011