For business and industry

How to manage your environmental impact

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All business and industry activity, from small start-ups to larger operations, can have an impact on their surrounding areas. As with any business risk, it is your responsibility to manage risks to the environment caused by your normal business operation, as well as incidents of pollution or waste.

Good environmental management makes business sense. Not only is it beneficial for your local environment, but it can save you money.

EPA can help you understand your obligations and access guidance on preventative measures you can implement at your business.

Why is managing risk important?

Managing risk can help your community – and business – by preventing:

  • harm to the environment and/or human health
  • liability for damage to neighbouring properties
  • waste of raw materials and money
  • loss of reputation
  • prosecution by regulators. 

Examples of harm to the environment and human health:

Noise, odour, and dust can affect the health of people living nearby.

Stormwater run-off from sites can enter nearby waterways.

Spills can end up in drains and can also impact waterways, land and groundwater.

Contamination interferes with uses of the water environment including drinking water and recreation.

What you can do to manage risk

The best way to manage risk and minimise harm is to implement preventative measures, or reasonable steps, to ensure things don't go wrong. Below is a four-step process to achieve this.

  1. Start by understanding what risk is, then identify your business risks, assess them and document this in a risk register:
  2. Identify and implement good preventative practices and controls relevant to your industry or the hazard you are looking to manage.

    Industry sector     Hazard or industry practice    

    Agricultural guidance
    Combustible recyclable and waste materials
    Construction - know where your waste goes
    Landlords and agents - storage and abandonment of waste
    Hiring skip bins
    Managing plastic resin pellets (nurdles)
    Underground petroleum storage systems 
    Use of glass fines

    Odour guidance
    Liquid storage and handling
    Solid storage and handling
    Preventing erosion impacts


  3. Strengthen your environmental risk management by developing an environmental management plan or system. The amount of risk in your operation poses should be reflected in the level of detail in your plan or system.
  4. Sometimes managing risks to human health and the environment can be complicated. You may need a consultant to help to identify and understand hazards, and design solutions to prevent or mitigate harm.

Page last updated on 12 Jul 2019