Since April 2020, EPA received a large number of odour pollution reports from the Reservoir community. The reports alleged the odour was being discharged from the Visy Paper plant in Reservoir. EPA officers investigated and detected an offensive odour in the adjacent residential area and traced it back to the Visy Paper premises.

The Visy Paper odour is likely to be a result of the presence of volatile fatty acids (VFA) and sulphides in the water used in the paper recycling process to separate the paper and cardboard material into strands of cellulose fibre.

About EPA’s role in reducing odour

As Victoria’s environmental regulator, EPA’s role at the Visy Paper site is to:

  • Check and enforce compliance with the Environment Protection Act 2017
  • Ensure that Visy Paper is minimising the risks of harm to human health and the environment.

Any non-compliances and potential breaches of the law are considered against our Compliance and Enforcement Policy (Publication 1798).

Preventing and minimising any harm to the community from the site has been the most important focus of EPA’s regulation of this issue. We are seeking a long-term solution to community concerns about odour from the Visy Paper site. 

Compliance and enforcement 

In February 2024, Visy Paper was issued an Operating Licence for waste and resource recovery and the paper pulp mill, as required under EPA’s new Environment Protection Act 2017. This licence introduces a range of enforceable conditions on the premises, including a specific condition to complete further odour extraction work on the building, due 31 May 2024.

To date, Visy Paper has complied with EPA remedial tools to complete a range of modifications to their processes and equipment, including an analysis of odour sources at the site, commencing a program of dosing their process water with a biocide to kill odour-producing bacteria, and improving odour capture and dispersion from a number of different discharge stacks across the premises.

As a result of modifications to the operations at the site, odour impacts on the community have been reduced in terms of strength of odour and distance travelled from the site. However, impacts on residents still continue.

Visy Paper has also received an Official Warning in August 2022 and  EPA fined the company in 2021 for late compliance with notice requirements.

EPA officers will continue to undertake odour surveillance in the area around Visy regularly and meet monthly with the company and Darebin City Council to monitor progress of the odour works and Visy Paper’s existing controls, such as the biocide program.

Advice for the community 

Community meeting sessions are held as part of the ongoing community engagement.

The next Community Information Session is currently being planned.
To check for a date of the next community session and to find out more details on Visy Paper updates and activities please visit their website.

People may react to odours in different ways. How we sense odour varies from person to person. 

If odour makes you feel unwell, you can:

Report odour

  • Members of the public can report odour to EPA.
  • For more information about odour at the Visy Paper site in Reservoir, contact us or call us on 1300 372 842. We are here 24 hours.

Stay informed

Updates on the issue will be regularly shared via this site, please visit us again for more information.

We will provide on this page the latest information about actions undertaken to minimise odour from the Visy Paper site in Reservoir. We will also continue to provide information to the community and share this information with local environmental community groups and other agencies including Darebin City Council.

Reviewed 7 March 2024