The EPA's advice on COVID-19 and your environmental responsibilities

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What the EPA is doing

In light of the current global situation with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), our priorities continue to be the health and wellbeing of our employees, and to minimise any disruptions to the delivery of our services.

We have a business continuity plan and processes to deliver our functions in the event of further lock-downs — including the capability of our staff to work from home. Prioritisation of our assessment, approval, compliance, and pollution response activities will continue.

What the EPA ​expects from duty holders

We recognise that this is an unprecedented challenge and recommend all duty holders have a business continuity plan that ensures key processes can continue if staff numbers decrease. Always follow the advice of State and Commonwealth Governments, and any specific health advice for your sector.

Duty holders remain responsible for 

  • the environmental impacts of their activities, and 
  • maintaining and operating pollution control equipment. 

Solid and liquid waste must continue to be consigned and disposed of appropriately, and to approved facilities. 

All permits, licences, notices or other approvals remain in force and conditions must be complied with.  If you need to make any changes to your operations that may affect emissions to the environment, please contact us before implementing changes.

Emergency authorisations may be granted under section 34 of EMPCA for the protection of life, environment or property – for example, the discharge or storage of waste in certain circumstances. If you need an emergency authorisation, please contact us as soon as possible. Approval will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and may be subject to conditions.

Clinical and Related Waste​

Waste generated in relation to care and activities involving suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases should be handled as per standard precautions and be discarded in general waste, unless it meets the definition of clinical and related waste.​

Some waste from these settings is considered 'clinical and related waste' which is a controlled waste (category code R100) under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Waste Management) Regulations 2020 (the Waste Management Regulations). Transport and management of controlled waste must be in accordance with the Waste Management Regulations. 

Guidance on determining whether a waste from a clinical setting is a clinical and related waste (controlled waste) or a general waste is included in the Companion Document to the Approved Management Method for Clinical and Related Waste 2007 and may also be provided by the Department of Health. If you are unsure whether a waste is a controlled waste, please contact the EPA. 

​The EPA has authorized several registered controlled waste transporters to transport clinical and related waste (category code R100), including:

​C​​ontrolled Waste Transpo​​​rt
​Veolia Environmental Services (Australia) Pty Ltd 
​(03) 6244 0000 
​J.J. Richards & Sons Pty Ltd 
​(03) 6208 2500
​Spectran Environmental Management Pty Ltd  
(03) 6272 9377 
​MOONAH 7009 

Other organizations can apply to the EPA for registration as a controlled waste transport with respect to clinical and related waste. Information on this process is provided at Registr​ation of Controlled Waste Transporters

​​How to stay up to date

It is important to follow advice on the following websites:

​Follow COVID-19 updates on ​the Australian Government Department of ​Health website.​