On 1 July 2021 environmental laws changed how we protect the environment. All Victorians need to understand and manage their risks to the environment.

What all Victorians must do

The laws feature new responsibilities for Victorians. We call these duties. The laws include a general environmental duty (GED). This means you must take reasonable steps to minimise harm to human health and the environment from your pollution and waste.

How the community and households can protect the environment

You can help by understanding your environmental impact, and taking reasonable steps to reduce your own pollution and waste.

How the community can have a say

You can choose to get involved and have your say in our work. One of the simplest ways is by reporting pollution when you see it happen. For example, littering from vehicles and illegal waste dumping. Another way to have your say is by participating in our consultation processes or attending our events.

What businesses must do to comply

From 1 July 2021 Victorian businesses have a duty to:

Respond to pollution incidents you’ve caused and let EPA know

Anyone responsible for causing a pollution incident must restore the area. You also need to let us know if you’ve caused a pollution incident.

How to respond to harm from your pollution incident 

How to report your pollution incident

  • Your duty to reasonably prevent harm: what is reasonably practicable
  • Manage contaminated land

    You must manage the risks to human health and the environment if you manage or control contaminated land.

    Tell EPA about contaminated land

    Anyone managing or in control of land who becomes aware it is significantly contaminated must notify EPA.

    Identify and assess and control risk

    Businesses must find and assess risk of harm to human health and the environment from any of your activities. Use suitable risk control measures. Respond quickly to EPA’s advice and suggestions and make changes when needed.

    Manage waste

    Everyone must take reasonable steps to make sure waste goes to the right place.

    Industrial waste is any waste that comes from trade, commerce or industry. Waste generators, transporters and receivers share the responsibility of making sure waste ends up at an EPA-authorised site. That will usually mean a waste disposal site with an EPA licence, permit or registration.

    Industries must take steps to make sure waste is appropriately managed by:

    • identifying and classifying waste
    • giving the required information to waste transporters and receivers to help them take it to the right place
    • taking reasonable steps to make sure their waste ends up at an EPA-authorised site.


    A milk bar in Bendigo generates packaging and general waste. The owner is responsible for managing this waste appropriately and must take reasonable steps to make sure it goes to the right place. It’s also her responsibility as a business owner to check that the contractors managing the waste are authorised. She can do this by asking them directly, or by visiting the EPA website.

    Householders also have an obligation under the Environment Protection Act 2017, to minimise harm to human health and the environment. This includes correctly managing and disposing of household waste. Illegal dumping can cause harm to human health and the environment. If you see waste being dumped illegally, you can report it to EPA.

    All industrial waste must go to a lawful place. Anyone handling priority waste must manage it according to its risk.

    Cooperate with EPA’s instructions and inspections

    Assist EPA authorised officers by answering questions and giving information during inspections. Ask for support when you need it and act on EPA’s advice.

    What Victorians can expect from EPA

    We’ll continue to work to help you understand and comply.

    We will inform you about environmental risks and how to identify them. As we work with industry associations, we’ll share examples of good practice. We’ll also coordinate with other regulators and enforce the law on those who don’t comply.

    Stay informed about what the laws mean

    Information for Victorian businesses

    Information for the Victorian community

    Reviewed 20 September 2022