EPA Victoria has conducted a series of precautionary inspections of commercial mulch producers across the state to ensure they have effective systems and processes in place to meet Victoria’s strict environment protection laws.


Over the past five weeks, EPA officers inspected 59 producers and no asbestos was found in garden mulch. While most producers had good systems and process in place, six are required to strengthen controls to prevent contamination from occurring.


EPA is aware free mulch is being advertised on popular online marketplaces and was recently contacted by a Heathmont resident who received free mulch last year that included building rubble, including asbestos.


While we are investigating the supply of this mulch, it clearly demonstrates why garden mulch should only be obtained from reliable sources, where quality checks are enforced


EPA Director Regulatory Services Duncan Pendrigh said while Victoria has some of the strongest regulatory requirements in place, we all need to stay vigilant.


“I urge the community to watch out for anyone offering garden mulch who can’t demonstrate they follow appropriate high standards and quality checks to avoid contamination. If the offer seems too good to be true, be wary of it.


If you suspect material in your mulch could be asbestos, do not disturb it and report it to EPA on 1300 372 842. 


EPA places strict conditions on industry and conducts regular inspections to ensure they maintain strong controls for preventing asbestos contamination.


The 59 targeted inspections of commercial mulch producers were in addition to inspections we routinely do to protect our environment, Mr Pendrigh said. 


In the 2022-23 financial year, EPA took eight matters to court due to the mishandling of asbestos. In the current financial year, EPA has taken legal action in two criminal and two civil matters so far. Businesses found guilty of mishandling asbestos can incur penalties of up to $2 million.


The Environment Protection Act 2017 requires all businesses in Victoria to do what is reasonably possible to prevent their activities from causing harm to people’s health and the environment due to pollution or waste. If they fail to comply, they can face large penalties, legal action and loss of EPA licences.


Mulch suspected to contain asbestos or illegal dumping of materials can be reported to the EPA Contact Centre on 1300 372 842 or contact@epa.vic.gov.au


For more information on how EPA Victoria manages compliance, visit Compliance and enforcement | Environment Protection Authority Victoria on the EPA website.

Reviewed 3 April 2024