Most current discussion on the techniques for effluent control emphasise the sophisticated approach most appropriate to advanced industrial operations in prosperous environments. This paper aims to demonstrate that a more basic approach still has a valuable role to play. A series of case studies from the United Kingdom examine how the application of simple techniques were able to provide significant environmental benefits at minimal net cost to the discharger. The examples ranged from raw materials recovery and waste recycling, to lateral thinking and the development of non polluting processes. The consequent reductions in effluent load to receiving waters have been found to be highly significant for the environment.