Four trickling biofilter designs were assessed as low-energy alternatives to aerobic activated sludge (AS) for the treatment of personal care product industry wastes. The designs included partially submerged packed-media and sponge reactors with and without active aeration. Partial submergence was used to reduce active aeration needs. Simulated colourant wastes (up to COD = 12,480. mg/L, TN = 128. mg/L) were treated for 201. days, including wastes with elevated oxidant levels. COD and TN removal efficiencies were always >79% and >30% (even without aeration). However, aerated sponge reactors consistently had the highest removal efficiencies, especially for TN (~60%), and were most tolerant of elevated oxidants. This study shows sponge biofilters have great potential for treating colourant wastes because they achieve high treatment efficiencies and reduce energy use by >40% relative to AS systems.