Disposing of beer & cider from public houses, clubs, restaurants and similar establishments

As part of COVID-19 restrictions and in order to prevent the spread of the virus, the UK government requested that specific industries closed their doors on 23 March 2020. Businesses that closed included public houses, clubs, restaurants and similar establishments and this has resulted in a requirement to dispose of the contents of kegs/casks that have now gone out of date.

Normally these would be returned to source, but this is not possible under the current covid-19 restrictions and social distancing measures. The disposal of waste beer/cider to sewer is not usually permitted. However, given the unprecedented nature of the current situation, we may be prepared to allow the discharge of such liquids into our network under certain conditions.

Please note; it is an offence under s.111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 to discharge anything to a sewer which will adversely impact on the sewerage network or water recycling centre treatment processes. Any discharge not covered by a permit or consent is subject to this part of the Act. Beer and cider are high in chemical oxygen demand which is a measure of the potential oxygen consumption of the effluent, this can have a significant impact on our treatment works and the environment.

Wholesaler guidance

Below you will find a list of wholesalers and their individual customer requirements for the disposal of beer and cider during covid-19 restrictions.

Thames Water

If the proposed discharge of beer is from a brewery, or a micro-brewery within a pub - customers need to apply for a Short Term Discharge Consent (G03) via Castle Water as the retailer.

If the proposed discharge of beer / cider is from a pub or restaurant (whether casks are opened or unopened), customers can send their request by completing the Application Template and sending to Trade.Effluent@Thameswater.co.uk.

The Application Template reqires the following information:

  • Name of public house  / restaurant
  • Full postal address of public house / restaurant including postcode
  • Volume of waste beer to be discharged
  • Contact details (phone number) of each individual pub /restaurant

You must not begin discharging beer or cider into the sewers until Thames Water have given approval. The approval document will provide you with a window of opportunity to carry out the disposal, subject to restrictions, with a start and end date.

If the business is a pub chain (e.g. Punch Taverns or Mitchell & Butlers etc.), then Thames Water will ask you to contact your head office so they can make a bulk application for all their pubs.

If you require any further information, please contact Thames Water Ltd’s TE team at Trade.Effluent@Thameswater.co.uk or call
0203 577 9200.

Southern Water

Customers who wish to discharge waste beer or cider to our network from a public house, club, restaurant or other similar establishment are advised to contact us first in all instances. They can contact us directly via the trade.effluent@southernwater.co.uk mailbox or via their Retailer, who must submit a G01 enquiry on their behalf.

If contacting us directly, we encourage bulk requests from pub companies over individual requests per pub where possible. If applying for multiple sites please provide this information in table format (i.e. excel).

When contacting us with your request, the following information must be provided:

  • Discharge address
  • Total volume to be discharged
  • Nature of discharge (beer and/or cider)

This will allow us to assess the potential impact of the discharge. If acceptable we will provide written confirmation of the conditions that must be met to discharge the effluent requested safely. Southern Water are not charging for these discharges given the unprecedented circumstances.

For further updates, please visit southernwater.co.uk/retail/covid-19-updates

United Utilities

United Utilities have been liaising with a representative from the Beer Association regarding their customers who need to dispose of waste beer and claim the VAT refund.

As this discharge can be a high risk to some of our rural works, we are requesting that our customers notify us of every discharge. We require the discharger to notify us via their retailer who will submit the detail on their behalf as a general enquiry (G1). This will then be logged on our case management system (JIRA) so we can trace it and also respond via the case.

Below is the information we will require :

  • Pub name and full address with postcode
  • Contact details of person at the pub disposing of the beer  – telephone numbers & email address
  • Volume of beer to be disposed of
  • The proposed date and time

Please note, this position excludes breweries including micro-breweries on public house premises as theses are controlled via existing TE consents. We are not currently looking to recover charges for the discharge. Please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our Relationship Management Team if you have any questions or concerns.

Yorkshire Water

Yorkshire Water have made some amendments to the way we would like retailers to contact us regarding the disposal of waste beer due to Covid-19.

We need to ensure that each establishment contacts us, via their retailer, to inform us they have waste alcohol that needs to be disposed of.

We must reiterate that without written consent from the Wholesaler to discharge to the public sewer it is a criminal offense under the water industry act 1991 and enforcement action may be taken against the occupier of the premise if they incorrectly dispose of the waste product.

We understand the urgency in the customer requests being received by Retailers. To make submission easier and quicker for Retailers and their Customers, we will not require a G/01 form for each individual SPID. We would like retailers to submit an excel file (attached) to the Yorkshire Water Wholesale Service Desk mailbox wholesaleservicedesk@yorkshirewater.co.uk with the following information:

  • Establishment name.
  • Establishment full address with postcode.
  • Volume of beer to be disposed of.
  • Contact details of responsible person at the establishment – telephone numbers & email address.

Upon receipt of the above information we’ll either contact the establishment directly or communicate via the retailer by return email with a decision and further instruction regarding discharge times & rate etc to allow us to protect our assets. This will be within 10 Business Days of receipt. Where updates are available sooner, these will be provided.

You should keep a written record of volumes discharged and over what period. We’ll not seek to recover costs for this service. Please note this is only a temporary process and should only be used for the disposal of waste beer due to Covid-19. If you have any questions about this process, please contact your Client Relationship Manager to discuss.

Anglian Water

Anglian Water would normally seek to regulate the disposal of beer or cider to the sewer through a permitting or consenting process. However, given the unprecedented nature of the current situation, and unless Anglian Water have stated otherwise in writing, we are prepared to allow the discharge of such liquids into our network if the conditions stated in the ‘Our Approach’ section below are adhered to.

Note: The information on this page applies until such time as relevant establishments are allowed to re-open or a practical alternative disposal route is available, whichever is the sooner.

Our Approach
In order to discharge to sewer, the following conditions must be complied with:

  • All current HMRC guidance must be followed.
  • Kegs/casks must have been broached at the time of the closure of the premises, the contents of all un-broached kegs/casks must not be discharged into our network without the specific written permission of Anglian Water (see ‘What we expect from you’ below).
  • The discharge must be made to the foul sewer and not to a surface water sewer.
  • The discharge must be made between the hours of 07:00 and 12:00 only, this is to ensure that there is maximum dilution in the sewerage network.
  • The flow rate must not exceed one litre per second to ensure that it does not surcharge local sewers, cause flooding and/or overload the receiving water recycling centre (waste water treatment works).
  • In rural areas no more than one broached keg/cask can be disposed of in any period of 60 minutes. If a higher rate of disposal is required you must contact Anglian Water and obtain our written permission.
  • The discharge must be made from a public house, club, restaurant or similar premises – this Regulatory Position Statement does not apply to breweries including micro-breweries on public house premises. All brewery discharges require a specific written consent.
  • Written records of volume, date/time of disposal and the liquid disposed of must be kept for inspection by Anglian Water staff at the premises where the discharge has been made.

In not pursing an application for a permit or consent we will not normally take enforcement action unless the discharge has caused, or is likely to cause, an impact on public health, Anglian Water’s operations and/or the wider environment including watercourses.

If you have any queries regarding this document and its applicability to your discharge you must contact Anglian Water.

To discharge the contents of un- broached kegs/casks you will need to contact us in all cases and obtain the specific written permission of Anglian Water. Such permission will depend on operational constraints. We can be contacted via email at TradeEffluent@anglianwater.co.uk. Your retailer may also be able to help.

South West Water

We are aware of the position statements provided by other Wholesalers on the dispoal of beer and cider however, unfortunately South West Water are unable to give a blanket statement permitting the discharge of waste beers and ciders to sewer. This is due to the rural nature of much of our catchment area. The polluting nature of beer would overwhelm the receiving treatment works, potentially leading to pollution of watercourses.

Many of our smaller village treatment works are seeing significantly increased loadings due to home based working and schooling which means insufficient headroom for additional discharges. Ideally we would suggest an alternative means of disposal or removal at a regulated and permitted facility.

However, if you are looking to dispose of beer and/or cider to the sewer works, please contact us at tradeeffluent@southwestwater.co.uk with your enquiry. Your email should include:

  • Request consent to discharge beer to South West Water foul sewer
  • Full address where discharge would take place
  • Volume (preferably Litres, if not Gallons) of liquids (e.g. beer, cider) they wish to discharge

We are not familiar with the different barrel sizes, therefore please provide us with details of the potential volume (litres or gallons) of beer, lager and cider to be discharged, we will pass this to our Scientific team, who will come back to you with a response.

Please note; until we respond to your email, we have not given you the consent required before discharging to our sewer.  You must wait until you hear back from our Scientist. Our Scientific team will go through each request and respond to you as soon as possible.

Scottish Water

Based on enquiries and reports from across the UK, Scottish Water is aware the temporary closure of cafés, bars and restaurants introduced under measures to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic could lead to a reduction in demand for milk and beer at such premises. The consequences of this may be raw milk remaining uncollected from farms or unprocessed at dairies, meaning it may require to be disposed of and kegged beer becoming spoiled, meaning it may require to be destroyed.

Milk and beer must not be discharged into a drain or sewer without first obtaining permission from Scottish Water. Scottish Water recommends customers seek sustainable ways to dispose of or reuse surplus waste milk or beer, following guidance from the appropriate authorities such as SEPA and HMRC and only considers a discharge to the public sewer as a last resort.

Before making any discharges to sewer the customer must apply to Scottish Water for temporary authorisation. Customers can apply directly to Scottish Water or via their Licenced Provider e.g Castle Water. A shortened Application Form for individual requests and an Application Spreadsheet for bulk requests are available from TEQ@scottishwater.co.uk. Completed application forms should be submitted to the same e-mail address.

Scottish Water will then consider the application and decide if the discharge can be authorised. If discharge is authorised, details about the conditions of this can be found here.