The general environmental duty (GED) is at the centre of the Environment Protection Act 2017 and it applies to all Victorians, and all businesses located in Victoria.

The GED makes it clear that businesses have a responsibility to reduce risk to human health and the environment.

It states that you must manage your activities to reduce the risk of harm:

  • to human health and the environment 
  • from pollution or waste.


The expectation is that all Victorian businesses will manage their activities to avoid the risk of environmental damage. If you cause pollution you must respond and restore the area, and you must tell EPA immediately. 

Businesses must manage their risks under the GED

Activities at businesses can cause pollution and waste. If these risks are not managed, they can have an impact on human health and the environment.

For businesses already managing their environmental risks, the GED generally means little to no change to how they operate. Most businesses already follow good management practices.  This will make complying with the GED easier. The GED just makes it clear your responsibility is to reduce risk to the environment. 

Some common risks businesses must manage include:

  • business activities that produce noise, odour or runoff to stormwater
  • the storage, use and disposal of liquids and chemicals
  • management of wastes, including the choice of transporter of wastes, and the receiver of wastes.

How EPA will help your business comply with the general environmental duty

EPA will support businesses to meet their obligations and help those in high-risk industries maintain their environmental performance.

We will:  
  • support businesses to meet their obligations and ensure compliance for those who don’t meet their duty  
  • work with industry associations to identify and highlight good practices in their sectors  
  • coordinate our activities with other regulators to improve performance and reduce regulations
  • educate the community by increasing awareness to help us identify environmental risks
  • punish non-compliance with the law.

These measures will support businesses to meet their legal obligations and manage their environmental risks.


Read more about protecting the environment and human health

A better environment for all Victorians

What the Act means for Victorian businesses

What the Act means for the Victorian community

EPA's compliance approach

Find guidance for your industry

Find out about State of knowledge (this is all information you should reasonably know about managing your business’s risks.) 

Reviewed 11 August 2022