Trade effluent is a nice neutral name for the most mucky stuff that water companies collect and process on our behalf – ensuring that, once treated, it can be safely released back into our environment.
In developing and refining the retail framework, we identified that there was a clear opportunity to work with the dischargers of trade effluent to reduce their environmental footprint and save money. The separation of retail activities offered the opportunity for customers to receive objective advice tailored to their specific needs. The retailer does not need to worry about the impact on the wholesale business.
Under the new arrangements, the retailers will become responsible for sampling customers’ discharges and will be better placed to provide advice on a timely basis. By understanding discharges better there will be opportunities to make the discharge less harmful and thereby to reduce costs. Such an assessment can also reveal broader potential improvements to production processes, leading to further benefits to customers.
Reducing the burden on sewers and waste water treatment works can also free up capacity, allowing others to connect to the system at lower cost. It will also reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.
That said, both customer and retailer should be aware that the wholesaler, Scottish Water, will still be ultimately responsible for what is discharged into the sewer. Separating the role of advisor and policeman is important and should create an environment which is much clearer for customers.
I am pleased at the constructive way in which the retailers, Scottish Water and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have engaged in developing this reform of trade effluent management in Scotland. But it is Scottish customers who will be the true winners from this ground-breaking, enhanced level of service.