1991 – Foundational legislation. The the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991 (POEA Act) is passed, the principal piece of legislation upon which the EPA operates.
1992 – Start of the EPA. The EPA officially “opens for business”
1990s – Homebush Bay clean-up. The EPA is heavily involved in the massive remediation and clean-up program of Homebush Bay in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000. This involved the removal of nine million cubic metres of waste and was one of the largest clean-up programs ever staged in Australia.
1995 – Pesticides regulation. The EPA takes over the regulation of pesticides from NSW Agriculture.
1997 – Two more acts. A three-year overhaul of the laws the EPA administers is completed, which leads to the passage through Parliament of the Contaminated Land Management Act and the POEO Act, two important pieces of legislation that remain at the heart of our work to this day.
2001 – Don’t be a tosser! The EPA’s hugely effective Don’t be a tosser! campaign is launched to address littering from vehicles.
2003 – New department and a shift in priorities. The EPA is incorporated, with other environment-related agencies, into a new Department of Environment and Conservation, reflecting a shift in government priorities from pollution prevention to conservation.
2011 - Incident at Kooragang. A major pollution incident at Kooragang Island in Newcastle was the catalyst for the NSW Government to prioritise pollution prevention and regulation.
2012 – An independent authority. Following the previous year’s incident at Kooragang Island, the EPA is re-established as an independent authority with a clearly defined mandate and enhanced powers.
2013 – Waste Less, Recycle More. Delivery begins on the Waste Less, Recycle More program, a five-year $465.7 million waste and resource recovery initiative which is still a major part of our ongoing work in the waste space.
2017 – Return and Earn. Launch of the EPA’s highly successful container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, complete with its own mascot, Ernie the wombat.
2020 – Black Summer Fires. The EPA, alongside other agencies, contribute more than 21,000 hours in response to what became known as the Black Summer fires, the largest bushfires in modern record.
2022 – Stronger powers. The Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2022 is passed, significantly strengthening the EPA’s environment protection legislation. These new laws close many loopholes and better equip the EPA to tackle criminal behaviour.