What the new Act means for the Victorian community
The Environment Protection Act 2017 has changed how we regulate pollution, waste and contamination.
Pollution incidents can happen anytime, anywhere. It could be small, like a leak that is easily contained or it could be big like a major spill that enters our waterways.
It's your responsibility to prevent harm from pollution and waste. If you cause a pollution incident it is also your responsibility to respond. You must take action no matter what.
In an emergency always called triple zero. Responding immediately can reduce the impacts on human health and the environment.
As well as cleaning up after the incident you must restore the areas that have been affected as far as reasonably practicable. This means you must take action to reestablish affected areas, returning them to their previous state.
Find out more about responding to a pollution incident by visiting our website epa.vic.gov.au.
The Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act) introduced new environmental protections for all Victorians. It includes new obligations and protections for the community.
The general environmental duty (GED) is at the centre of the new Act. It applies to all Victorians. The GED requires you to reduce the risk of your activities harming the environment or human health.
There are many ways you can comply with the GED. For example:
Simon stores petrol for his lawnmower in a jerrycan in his back shed. To comply with the GED, he makes sure to seal it. This prevents it from leaking into the creek behind his house.
Lucy and Stephen have a property with an old septic tank system. They check the condition of the system to make sure there aren’t any leaks. They also pump it out so it doesn’t overflow. When more people move onto the property, they increase the system’s capacity to prevent overflows or leaks.
Maurice is a self-employed mobile car detailer. He has greater responsibilities under the GED. This is because managing environmental risks should be part of running any business. See more on what the new laws mean for businesses.
Community waste can harm land and waterways. This includes illegal dumping of waste from home renovations and construction work. It also includes waste from leaks, runoff, spills and the poor disposal of paints, pesticides and solvents.
Under the Act, everyone has a responsibility to make sure their waste goes to the right place. We all need to:
When you can’t discard your waste using your kerbside collection:
Charlotte is painting her home. To comply with the GED, she makes sure to dispose of any left-over paint with care. She does this at her local council transfer station. She doesn’t pour it into her street’s stormwater drain.
Waleed is renovating his home and wants to hire a skip bin. He must take reasonable steps to ensure the bin operator is taking his waste to a proper place.
EPA has developed a Charter of Consultation to help you have your say in decision making. The Charter of Consultation (publication 1928) is EPA’s commitment to consultation with Victorians. It outlines key parts of our laws that require or may benefit from consultation and describes how EPA may undertake such consultation.
Reviewed 16 June 2022