Retail food industry non-compliance changes

Since 1 July 2016, we have changed our management of non-compliant customers in the retail food industry, with regard to the installation or upgrading of pre-treatment devices such as grease arrestors and fixed sink strainers.

Under the Water Services Act 2012, in order for trade waste to be accepted into our wastewater system, all retail food businesses (such as cafes and restaurants) must hold a current trade waste permit and comply with all permit conditions including the installation or upgrade of pre-treatment fixtures.

The new process enables us to maintain equitable treatment for all customers in the retail food industry.

What has changed? 

Any customer who applies for a trade waste permit and is required to install or upgrade a grease arrestor and/or fixed sink strainers will have 12 months to comply. After an initial 90 days they will be subject to a daily charge of up to $22.87 per trading day for the remainder of the 12 month period at which time if they remain non-compliant they may be subject to prosecution, additional penalties and/or disconnection from our wastewater system.

Why have these changes been made?

Grease arrestors are really important because they reduce the amount of fats, oils, grease and solids entering our wastewater system. If these build up they cause odorous and toxic gasses, corrosion, blockages and wastewater overflows. Blockages and overflows impact the community and our ability to provide customers effective wastewater services.

How do I know if I am non-compliant?

You can check your compliance by: 

  • reviewing your permit conditions
  • confirming the trade waste permit was issued to your business and not the previous operator.

Key stages in the new process

  1. We will communicate the requirement to install or upgrade grease arrestors and/or fixed sink strainers to customers during their trade waste application assessment process. The trade waste permit will state the grease arrestor must be installed or upgraded within 12 months from the permit issue date.
  2. Customers who install or upgrade their grease arrestor and/or fixed sink strainers as required within 90 days of the permit issue date will not be subject to daily charges.
  3. Customers who have not installed or upgraded their grease arrestor and/or fixed sink strainers within 90 days of the permit issue date will become subject to daily charges. Charges will continue for the remainder of the 12 months unless the grease arrestor is installed or upgraded prior to the required date.
  4. Customers who fail to comply within 12 months breach the conditions of their trade waste permit and may then be subject to legal action and/or disconnected from our wastewater system in accordance with the Water Services Act 2012. Breaches of trade waste permit conditions may incur a fine of $10,000, plus $500 a day until compliance has been met.

An extended installation period without the charges may be negotiated if there are extenuating circumstances and the customer provides a written commitment to install or upgrade.

Can I just pay the charges rather than install pre-treatment?

No. 'Polluter payments' in lieu of installing or upgrading a grease arrestor and/or fixed sink strainers is not an acceptable or sustainable option. 

Will these changes affect me if I am complying with all my permit conditions?

If you are currently compliant there will be no impact on you. This may change if your permit is reviewed. Triggers for reviewing your permit are:

  • change of owner
  • change of process; for example, change of food preparation or cooking practices
  • following a trade waste investigation where a business may have caused a detrimental effect (such as a fat blockage) on the operation of the wastewater system and/or affecting the health and safety of Water Corporation workers or contractors
  • in some cases, following a routine inspection.

The small minority of customers who are currently non-compliant have already been made aware of their grease arrestor requirements.

Are there any other costs if I am not compliant?

Yes. You will be subject to trade waste charges for the first 12 months. These charges are based on the nature and operation of the business and can be up to $6,386 per year.

The table below shows examples of the charges for different business types across different trading days:

   Approximate charge within first 12 months


Example of business types*

Minimum trade waste
pre-treatment requirements

Daily charges
(2019–20 FY)

5 trading days
per week 

6 trading days
per week 

7 trading days
per week


Coffee shop
Donut shop
Installation of in-sink and floor strainers  $5.83  $1,142  $1,369  $1,596


Takeaway shop
Lunch bars
Installation of a conventional type of approved grease/solids arrestor  $9.71  $1,903  $2,282  $2,661


Catering establishments
Installation of a conventional type of approved grease/solids arrestor  $23.30  $4,567  $5,477  $6,386

* For any business types not listed above please contact Water Corporation for more information.

Failing to comply with permit conditions after the 12 month period may incur a fine of $10,000, plus $500 a day until compliance has been met, in accordance with the Water Services Act 2012.

Can my permit be revoked if I fail to comply with my permit conditions?

Yes. In addition, if your permit is revoked and you continue to discharge without written approval you may incur a fine of $50,000, plus $2,000 a day in accordance with the Water Services Act 2012.

What if I’m buying or selling a business?

There are some important factors to consider when buying or selling a retail food business:

If you are buying a retail food business, you must:

  • ask the current owner to provide you their valid trade waste permit to review the general and any special conditions that may impact a new business owner. As we review trade waste standards on a regular basis, or business may have changed their processes or practices from their original permit approval, there may be additional permit conditions to that of the previous owner in order to meet current Water Corporation Standards. As any of our standards change we update our Trade waste pages
  • confirm if your proposed business needs pre-treatment in the form of a grease arrestor and/or fixed sink strainers
  • confirm if the business is connected to a  grease arrestor and/or fixed sink strainer
  • confirm the grease arrestor installed meets the current sizing standards. 

Yes. You have an obligation to advise any potential buyer of the trade waste permit conditions or any trade waste non-compliance related to the business.

More information

Retail food industry non-compliance changes FAQs

If you have any additional queries, or would like further information, email us at or contact our Commercial and Industrial Services Team on (08) 9371 4173.