Environmental Legislation For Business in Australia: Everything You Need to Know

Understanding the relevant environmental laws is crucial when launching or operating a business. Environmental legislation can impact everything from how you operate your business, to the products and services you offer, and even how you dispose of waste. 

There are a number of pieces of environmental legislation that businesses must comply with, depending on their sector and location. In this article, we’ll take a look at the central piece of environmental legislation that applies to businesses in Australia. 

What Environmental Legislation Applies to Your Business?

In Australia, federal, state, and city authorities all work together to enforce the country's environmental regulations. The nature of your operations determines the specific environmental regulations that apply to your company.

The EPBC Act, or Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, is the primary environmental law of the Commonwealth of Australia. It lays the groundwork for controlling human actions that have a significant negative effect on the environment.

The Department of Agriculture, Water, and Environment is in charge of enforcing EPBC Act provisions. This is because they will evaluate new scientific findings and data to propose changes to the legislation.

To run your company legally, you must research and comply with all applicable regulations. It is possible to minimize your company's ecological footprint regardless of its size or industry. The key to effective environmental management is planning and setting priorities.

Some of your company operations may need licenses and permissions from environmental authorities. Australia's federal government requires appropriate authorization for any endeavor that poses a threat to ecologically significant regions. 

The Protected Matters Search Tool may help you find potentially environmentally sensitive sites around the country.

It's also important to check with your state, territorial or municipal government to see if you need any licenses or permits for an activity. Parks, historical sites, the air or the water may affect the situation.

The EPBC Act: How Does it Function?

In Australia, the protection of the environment is governed by a variety of legislation at both the national and state levels. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, however, is unquestionably the most significant piece of environmental legislation.

This act protects the environment and biodiversity in Australia. To keep up with changing needs, the act has been revised several times over the years.

Under the EPBC Act, the Australian environment minister must be informed before taking any action that might have a "substantial effect" on a subject protected by the Act.

More than 30 environmental issues are covered under the EPBC Act. This includes:

  • Water management
  • Soil management
  • Invasive species
  • Air quality
  • Sustainable forest management
  • Endangered species
  • Endangered ecological communities.

The EPBC Act does have an impact on the operations, duties, personnel, and contractors of local governments, which play a significant role in safeguarding Australia's environment.

The EPBC Act covers a wide range of environmental issues, including land degradation, threatened species, and ecological communities, water resources, and air quality. It also establishes some important institutions such as the National Environmental Protection Council (NEPC) and the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

One of the most significant aspects of the EPBC Act is its scope. The act covers more than 30 different environmental issues, which makes it the most comprehensive piece of environmental legislation in the world.

What Initiatives Taken By Local Governments Are Subject to the EPBC Act?

Initiatives may be subject to approval if a local government activity is anticipated to have a major influence on an issue protected under the EPBC Act. Some actions which have major influence are:

  • Destroying native vegetation
  • Altering the natural flow of water
  • Suppressing weeds and other pests

This is addressed under the EPBC Act Significant impact guidelines 1.1.

Any operations that have the potential of major influence, are reviewed by the environmental minister and other appropriate authorities within 20 business days.

Pretty much any activities taken by a state territory or federal agency in Australia are subject to the EPBC Act. Because of this, it is an essential source of information for what legislation applies to your business.

Benefits of Environmental Management for Businesses

Here are some of the benefits of environmental management for businesses. 

  • Companies that are aware of their impact on the environment may gain the trust of their customers.
  • When properly implemented, environmental management may have positive effects on both the environment and businesses.
  • The practice of recycling and reusing objects benefits society as a whole.
  • Decreasing the usage of chemicals and waste products can enhance workplace safety and health.
  • In order to operate legally, your company must adhere to regulations aimed at preserving the natural environment.
  • Reduced expenses in the areas of raw materials, energy, water, and waste management. 

Here's How JESI Can Significantly Help your Business to be Compliant with Environmental Legislation

Are you using paper-based systems to manage your business operations? Deforestation, massive water and power use, carbon emissions, and waste are only some of the environmental consequences of the production of paper. Roughly 26% of all trash in landfills is paper. 

Moreover, an employee consumes around 10,000 sheets of paper annually on average. Ten thousand sheets of paper will cost you around $120. Multiply it by the number of workers at your organization to get a rough estimate. It is very hard to determine the actual cost of paper without reviewing the paper record. 

Reduce your company's carbon footprint and save forests by switching to digital records instead of paper ones. Whether you want to totally eliminate paper from your organization or only digitize a certain process, JESI technological solutions can be useful.

Adopting JESI has benefitted companies considerably since it has reduced the need for manual processes. Additionally, JESI offers journey management, digitized risk assessment, and other safety solutions that might help your company. To save time and money, businesses can reduce their reliance on paper with the use of JESI technology solutions. 

Click here to request a free demo of JESI

Final Thoughts

The EPBC Act and its corresponding regulations are a significant piece of environmental legislation in Australia that ensures the country's precious ecosystem is preserved. It is the foundation for the regulation of business and industry that has a major impact on the environment. The EPBC Act is a very powerful and comprehensive piece of legislation, and its underlying principles are intended to enable the country's natural environment to flourish.


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