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

New laws. New responsibilities. EPA’s CEO explains

 

Video transcript

Victoria's new environmental laws - EPA's CEO Lee Miezis

Victoria's new environmental protection laws are now in place and under these new laws every Victorian not just Victorian businesses, but everyone has a responsibility to identify and minimise the risks that their activities present to the environment and to our communities.

Now these steps are just practical things, the things that we do every day to make sure that what we do doesn't cause harm to our environment and doesn't present a risk to human health.

There's lots of information available to help you identify and manage your risks and I encourage you to visit EPA's website to find out more information.

One of the things that's important to remember is under the new laws, right and wrong doesn't change. And if you do things that will cause harm to our environment or cause harm to our communities, then we've got new powers and new sanctions to hold you to account.

I'm really proud to lead EPA through this transformation and the introduction of these new laws and I look forward to working with all Victorians as every one of us does our bit to protect our fantastic environment and our great communities from the harm that can be caused from pollution and waste.

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

For businesses already managing their environmental risks, the new laws mean little to no change. 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

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

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.

EPA’s action in the first 100 days

October 2021 marks 100 day of operations under the Environment Protection Act 2017.

Since 1 July we have:

  • conducted more than 430 inspections
  • onboarded nearly 2500 drivers to our Waste Tracker system
  • started more than 80 investigations
  • recorded more than 160 contaminated land reports
  • received and reviewed over 3000 pollution reports
  • assigned more than 700 regulatory responses across Victoria

There has also been industry engagement to ensure the continued smooth transition to compliance with new duties, in line with our Statement of Regulatory Intent.

The statement recognises there will be opportunities for ongoing improvement. common challenges will help to determine best practices as well apply the laws on-the-ground.

Stay informed about what the laws mean

Information for Victorian businesses

Information for the Victorian community

Reviewed 8 October 2021