Businesses must take steps to minimise environmental risks. When a business does not meet its obligations, EPA acts quickly and transparently to apply the law. 

How EPA holds businesses accountable

EPA’s role is to protect the environment and human health from the impacts of pollution and waste. We do this in several ways, including:

  • supporting people to understand what they need to do to comply
  • working with businesses to address pollution and waste
  • holding people to account when they deliberately do things that put our environment and health at risk, or actually cause harm
  • reviewing our approach when needed.

EPA’s compliance and enforcement approach involves a mix of encouragement and deterrence to motivate action. We aim to:

  • inform and educate
  • set standards
  • support to comply
  • monitor compliance
  • enforce the law
  • encourage higher performance.

EPA’s Compliance and enforcement policy (publication 1798) describes these activities and how we ensure people do the right thing.

We prioritise the biggest risks

We focus our compliance efforts on applying the law where we can make the biggest difference. EPA’s risk-based approach uses science and intelligence to assess and respond to risks, including risks from industry activities.

How we enforce the law

EPA takes an escalating approach to enforcement. This means we respond more harshly if a business is resistant, evasive or fails to account for its risks. By enforcing the law, EPA aims to: 

  • stop unlawful activity and remedy harm
  • ensure future compliance is achieved and sustainable
  • raise awareness of the law and the consequences of breaking it
  • punish offenders and remove any commercial advantage from non-compliance.

EPA considers several factors when responding to a business that hasn’t met its obligations. These include:

  • the type of offence and how serious it is
  • the risk of harm caused
  • the characteristics of the person responsible, such as their attitude to dealing with EPA
  • other relevant factors like the public interest.

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New laws and your business

Compliance and enforcement

Reviewed 22 June 2021