Waste management is the term used to describe how you collect, transport, dispose of, and recycle waste.

Waste management governance

In NSW, acts and regulations govern waste management, and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) oversees the implementation of the regulations.

The EPA works together with local government and business to reduce the impact of waste on the environment.

For example, if you want to carry out certain activities, you may need to apply for permission from your local council or another authority.

Discharging commercial trade wastewater

You may need approval from your water provider to discharge commercial trade wastewater into a public sewer, depending on the type of business you operate.

Commercial trade wastewater includes greasy wastewater from retail food outlets and contaminated wastewater from mechanical workshops, car washes and laundries.

Businesses need to follow their water provider’s requirements for pre-treatment equipment, backflow prevention and grease trap management.

There may be ongoing fees and charges to cover the additional costs of managing and treating trade wastewater.

Different areas of NSW are managed by different water providers, including major water utilities, like Sydney Water, local water utilities and local councils.

Visit the Department of Primary Industries Water website to find your water utility provider. 

Placing commercial waste in a public place

You may need to apply to your local council for approval to place commercial waste in a public place, in order for it to be collected by a waste contractor.

Commercial waste includes:

  • effluent from a sewer, sewage facility, sullage pit or grease trap
  • trade waste from any building or demolition work, or industrial, chemical, trade or business process, and
  • garbage from wasted or spoiled food and other refuse.

Contact your local council to complete your application.

Types of waste

Waste is anything unwanted that your business creates as a by-product of its activities. It can be solid, liquid, gas or radioactive waste.

Some types of waste such as asbestos, hazardous chemicals and radioactive waste have special regulations that must be complied with.


Businesses need to comply with the regulations to insure the health of their workers, the community at large and the environment as a whole.

Non-compliance brings heavy penalties to both the business and to the individuals who work in the business.

The penalty depends on the level of offence and can include:

  • large fines for businesses
  • large fines for individuals and jail sentences of several years.

Note: In NSW the owner of the waste and the waste transporter may both be guilty of an offence when waste is transported to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility.

The owner of waste includes the person who was the owner of the waste immediately before it was transported.

How to reduce your waste

The EPA recommends following these principles and asking yourself these questions:

  • Avoid: do we need it?
  • Reduce: do we need so much?
  • Reuse: can we use it again?
  • Recycle: can someone else use it or can it be converted into something new?

Businesses can access free help and support through the EPA’s Bin Trim program to identify how they can reduce waste and potentially save money.

Visit the EPA website for more initiatives and tools.

Related links

Last updated: 15 February 2024

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