Information on this page is not current law. It details new laws intended to commence on 1 July 2021 under the Environment Protection Act 2017.

Under new laws, you must manage any activities that pose a risk to human health and the environment from pollution or waste. This applies even if the activity is low risk. 

The general environmental duty (GED) is unlikely to impact your activities if your business: 

  • doesn’t cause pollution 
  • only produces small amounts of domestic-type wastes that go in normal bins. 

About low-risk activities

Businesses with activities that pose low risk of harm to human health and the environment from pollution or waste may include: 

  • retail and convenience stores 
  • offices 
  • cafes 
  • bars 
  • pharmacies. 

These types of businesses are unlikely to have additional requirements under the new laws. 

For most businesses, complying with environment protection laws means being sure to: 

  • remove waste in the right way  
  • keep sites clean 
  • keep rubbish and chemicals out of stormwater drains.  

If your business activities pose low risk to human health and the environment, you can demonstrate risk management by your actions. You generally don’t need to document your risk management practices. 

Levels of risk infographic

How to manage low-risk activities

Businesses with low-risk activities may not need to make changes to comply with new laws. This is because you may already be taking required actions. For example, occupational health and safety (OHS) laws require you to manage spills to prevent slips, trips and injuries.  

You can also meet the expectations of the GED in other ways, through:  

  • local laws 
  • planning permits 
  • industry codes of practice and guidelines.

At a minimum, take reasonable precautions and use your common sense.  

Some steps you can take to manage low-risk activities: 

  • train staff in responsible waste management 
  • keep workplaces clean and tidy 
  • recycle paper, cardboard, glass and plastics 
  • minimise wastewater 
  • only use stormwater drains for water 
  • use authorised waste transporters 
  • dispose of waste in the right way 
  • switch off equipment at night to minimise noise. 

Follow this simple risk management process to find out more about managing risk.

Tools to support and manage risks

Learn the four-step risk management process

Manage your environmental risk

Find out about common hazards

Managing medium to high-risk activities

Get guidance from EPA

Find out when you need a registration

Reviewed 23 August 2020