How to dispose of RV waste

Author: Malcolm Street  


‘Self-contained’ is a real buzzword in Recreational Vehicles circles these days. The ability to retain your grey and black water until it can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way is the Holy Grail for many. Grey water is the waste water from the kitchen sink, bathroom wash basin, and shower cubicle, while black water is a polite way of talking about sewerage waste from your toilet. 


It is essential that the grey and black water is disposed of in an appropriate manner and, in some cases, the two are treated differently.  In Australia, there are many places grey water can be disposed of by simply draining it directly into the ground upon with the RV is parked. There are other places, such as sport ovals (often used for overflow camping) where a ‘sock’ of waste rag is required to catch any solids while letting the water through. And there are also many locations, such as national parks or near waterways, where grey water should not be drained into the ground at all and needs to be treated in the same way as black water. 




Many modern RVs come with built-in toilets. These toilets are generally made by one of two manufacturers, either Thetford or Dometic. The toilets have a cassette-style holding tank, usually around 17-19L, which can be removed for emptying via an external door. The tanks often have an extendable handle and a set of wheels for easy transportation to the dump point. Larger RVs may come with their own black water tank fitted under the chassis, similar to a grey water tank. The size of your black water tank or cassette will usually be the most limiting factor on the your ability to travel offgrid. 



Whatever the tank types, the liquid waste has to be disposed of at a dump point. These are most commonly found in caravan parks, however, over the last decade there has been a campaign led by the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) to get local councils to install dump points in publicly-accessible locations.  ensuring RV travellers have a bit of flexibility in how they travel.


Access to dump points is usually free, although caravan parks may charge if you’re not a paying guest. Unfortunately, not all dump points are designed with gravity in mind and while emptying a maneuverable toilet cassette is quite easy, the same cannot be said for a fixed grey water tank. 

Dump point etiquette is quite simple – leave it as you would like to find it. If you are bit squeamish about handling toilet cassette tanks, then consider carrying a box of heavy duty disposable gloves.   


To minimise odours, both grey and black water tanks should be cleaned (not just drained) regularly. Chemical treatment should always be added to black water tanks after every empty. There are also chemical treatments available for grey water tanks which can be used as required.

Disposing of grey and black water should always be done responsibly, something very important in our precious environment and the growing number of dump points is making this process easier than ever. 


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