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.

Activities at businesses in different locations can cause pollution and waste. The combined effect can have an impact on human health and the environment.

The general environmental duty (GED) is at the centre of the Environment Protection Act 2017 and it applies to all Victorians. You must reduce the risk of harm from your activities:

  • to human health and the environment 
  • from pollution or waste.

This means the approach to protection of human health and the environment has changed. The expectation is that you will manage your activities to avoid the risk of environmental damage. You must also respond if pollution does occur. 

Businesses must manage their risks under the general environmental duty

For businesses already managing their environmental risks, the GED generally means little to no change to how they operate. Most businesses already follow good management practices.  This will make complying with the GED easier. The GED just makes it clear your responsibility is to reduce risk to the environment. 

Some common risks to manage include:

  • business activities that produce noise, odour or runoff to stormwater
  • the storage, use and disposal of liquids and chemicals
  • management of wastes and the choice of transporter or receiver of wastes.

EPA will support businesses to meet their obligations and help those in high-risk industries maintain their environmental performance.

How EPA will help your business comply with the general environmental duty

EPA helps businesses and the community to understand and meet their environmental protection duties. We will:  

  • support businesses to meet their obligations and ensure compliance for those who don’t meet their duty  
  • work with industry associations to identify and highlight good practices in their sectors  
  • coordinate our activities with other regulators to improve performance and reduce regulations
  • educate the community by increasing awareness to help us identify environmental risks
  • punish non-compliance with the law.

These measures will support businesses to meet their legal obligations and manage their environmental risks.

Read more about protecting the environment and human health

A better environment for all Victorians

What the new Act means for Victorian businesses

What the new Act means for the Victorian community

EPA's compliance approach

Find guidance for your industry

Find out about State of knowledge (this is all information you should reasonably know about managing your business’s risks.) 

Reviewed 3 March 2020