Untreated sewage discharges can have a significant impact on the environment. The collection and treatment of sewage, and appropriate disposal of the sewage sludge generated as a by-product of sewage treatment, are key contributors to helping maintain and improve the quality of coastal waters, lakes and rivers. Keeping hazardous materials out of wastewater will help to ensure water treatment of sewage works more effectively and that sewage sludge can be used more widely.

The UK produces over 1 million tonnes of sewage sludge (dry weight) per year. Disposal routes had been the sea, farmland, and, to a lesser extent, landfills and incineration. However, legislation preventing sea disposal has catalysed an increase in incineration and reuse on farmland as a fertiliser.

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