This guide is to assist event food vendors looking to switch away from single-use plastic.
Alternatives are given to common single-use plastic items, but we also encourage you to look at any other plastic you're using (for e.g. consider offering reusable bottles for sauce rather than individual sachets).
It is always better to choose REUSABLE alternatives wherever possible.
Where this is not feasible, we recommend using 100% certified compostable products (certified to Australian Standards) for takeaway.
When sourcing products, be wary of those labelled only as ‘biodegradable’ or 'degradable'. This does NOT mean the same thing as compostable, and may be a plastic product. Ensure the product you're purchasing is 100% compostable. Where possible, try to choose natural products such as paper, bagasse, cardboard, wood, palm or bamboo, as these compost more readily than bioplastics.
Provide a water refill station ( a simple jug or cooler will work) and sell reusable bottles.
Stock water in aluminium cans or glass water bottles (if allowed under event policy). Ensure these do not have plastic parts or plastic wraps around them (help to choose the right bottles here).
Coffee cups & lids
Accept customers with BYO cups and consider offering a discount for this.
Look for paper cups with 100% compostable lining (check lining is not traditional plastic).
Similarly, lids should be made from compostable material such as bagasse (preferred) or PLA/CPLA. Ensure lid is not PS (polystyrene) - these lids will have have 'PS' and the number '6' on them - avoid!
Remove straws from sight and only provide upon request. If requested, provide paper or wheat/rye/rice straws. Put up signage saying that you are reducing straws to encourage customer participation. Note that disposable straws vary in quality - if you find one brand unsuitable, it is worth trying another. Avoid oxo-degradable/ biodegradable straws, these are plastic.
Foodware (plates, cups & cutlery)
If possible, use washable reusable items such as stainless steel cutlery and ceramic plates. The event may provide a wash up station.
Preference wooden/ paper/ cane or other 100% compostable items that meet home compost standard. Products made from bagasse (sugarcane) are a good option as they are strong and leak-proof. For cold cups, PLA (bioplastic) lined paper is preferred (ensure it is 100% compostable). For cutlery, bamboo/ wood is the best option. Be wary of the label 'biodegradable', ensure they are also labelled as compostable. Try to source sustainable products if possible.
Re-think how much packaging you need to use - can you use a paper bag or napkin instead? Provide wooden/paper/cane or other 100% compostable containers that meet home compost standard. Be wary of the label 'biodegradable', ensure they are also labelled as compostable. Try to source sustainable products if possible.
Don’t provide plastic bags, instead sell reusable cloth bags (these can be branded).
Ask if customers really need a bag, many will have their own bag they can use. If a takeaway option is needed, provide sustainably sourced paper bags (can be branded) or recycled cardboard boxes.