Performance overview

The EPA directly employs 805 people with most staff working in metropolitan areas. This year we continued to focus on safety and wellbeing. With the impact of the pandemic, we supported our employees to work remotely and partnered with the Black Dog Institute to roll out mental health training for employees and managers.

Key facts

  • 61% of senior leadership roles are held by women
  • 89 staff safety incidents, accidents and injuries were reported

Staff by location 2022

The year in review

Focus areas

In July 2021 we launched our Strategic Plan 2021–24. This outlined our five key areas of focus for the year and beyond.

Our five key focus areas



ecologically sustainable development






water quality



legacy and emerging contaminants



climate change

(For more details, see What matters to us.)

Waste and contaminants

Much of our work on both waste and contaminants centres around developing effective ways to prevent or reduce risks to the human and environmental health. Key achievements in these areas have been:

  • our container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, hitting a milestone – seven billion containers returned (page 84)
  • ongoing progress in dealing with legacy asbestos (page 75)
  • increased awareness of PFAS (page 76)
  • beginning of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2022 on 4 March 2022 with increased powers and tools for dealing with contamination and pollution (page 48).

Responding to events

When harm does happen, we aim to take a leading role in managing it. Examples of this are the clean-up and recovery efforts after the flooding events in February and March 2022, and the Wickham warehouse fire in Newcastle. (For more details, see What we’ve achieved.)

wall of screens in the State Emergency Operations Centre

Communication, engagement and education

Communication, engagement and education are at the heart of our work. Often these approaches work in tandem. Examples of this include our successful stakeholder roadshows (page 40), our marine litter and lead awareness education campaigns (pages 71 and 43 respectively), and our own internal communications regarding COVID-19 restrictions and how they impacted our people and our work (page 39).

Holding polluters to account

We also continued to hold polluters to account. In 2021–22 we successfully prosecuted 63 cases (out of 65 completed) and the courts imposed over $2.3 million in penalties (page 93). In July 2021 we launched our Strategic Plan 2021–2024 which outlined our five key areas of focus for the year and beyond. These are ecologically sustainable development, waste, water quality, legacy and emerging contaminants and climate change (see ‘What matters to us’).

Our challenges


Once again COVID-19 caused widespread disruption and constrained our operations. Many of us started the 2021–22 year in strict lockdown due to a spike in infections.

This changed how we could deliver programs and engage with stakeholders. Staff largely worked from home, often dealing with home schooling, isolation or health worries, and staff movements and travel were reduced. When necessary, inspections of licensed sites were conducted virtually and officers did desktop assessments and used photographs instead of going in person.

In February and March heavy rains again drenched much of NSW, flooding communities in the State’s north, around the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers and in parts of Sydney. We responded quickly, working with other government agencies on the clean-up.

A warehouse fire in the Newcastle inner-city suburb of Wickham was another emergency to respond to. It was feared the fire might have spread asbestos into surrounding suburbs. We assessed the dangers and held community information sessions to keep the locals informed.

Throughout these challenges we had to adapt, remain flexible and change our regulatory practices, while still ensuring we were engaging the community and fulfilling our regulatory requirements.