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    Let's just be clear - we believe that in an ideal world all takeaway items would be served in reusables. But the reality is that in our fast-paced society, single-use is still very much a go-to. We will aways advocate for an AVOID-REDUCE-SWITCH model, in that order. Ask yourself how you can avoid or reuse items, before switching to a disposable alternatives (see linked guides at the end for help on this). When you do need single-use items, the aim should be to have as little environmental impact as possible. Unfortunately, the process of finding these products that also suit your needs can be tiresome and downright confusing. Australia’s packaging industry is largely unregulated. The result is that many manufacturers design products that simply look and sound environmentally friendly, yet carry no such characteristics (this is known as 'greenwashing'). So how do you find what you need? Here are our top 10 tips to help you. 1. Look out for compost certifications Products can be certified compostable, which means it is proven to break down in a specific timeframe under specific conditions. If a product claims compostability, it should be backed up with a certification. In Australia, the industry standards are the Australian Standard for Home Composting (AS 5810) or the Australian Standard for Commercial Composting (AS 4736). Foreign certifications are available as well, though not preferred. Ask your supplier if the product you're ordering is certified compostable, and look out for these symbols when choosing your packaging. 2. Check if the certification provided is for the finished product Many manufacturers will use base materials that are certified compostable, and then add in additional processes or elements to create a finished product. They will then use the certification for the base material and claim it covers the entire product. When ordering, check with your supplier whether certifications are for finished products. 3. Check if there is a home compostable option available instead of commercially compostable There is a big difference between home compostable and commercially compostable items, namely the specific conditions required for each to be effectively composted. Home compostable items can break down in a backyard compost. Commercially compostable items require collection and transport to a commercial composter to break down. If littered, home compostable items pose less threat to the environment. It is better to choose home compostable items where you can. 4. Don't be fooled by meaningless 'greenwash' terms If used without any proof or composting standards, the following words can be a sign of greenwashing: 'enviro, eco, earth friendly, green, biodegradable, degradable, climate friendly, plant based, natural'. 5. Be wary of deceptive imagery Just because a product may have neutral earthy tones or be presented with leaves or bamboo does not mean it is an environmentally sound choice. Ignore these elements of greenwashing and stick to certified compostable products. To learn more on avoiding greenwashing, see our related post on greenwashing (below). 6. Be aware of made up certification symbols All of these symbols mean nothing! Look out for an actual composting standard. 7. Check your items comply with state bans Legislation banning certain single-use plastic items are in place in most states. Each state’s ban will have notable differences, and it is worth checking the ban in your state to educate yourself. Noteworthy aspects for many bans are whether items are certified compostable to Australian Standards, are ‘oxo-biodegradable’ or contain bioplastics. When ordering, check details with your supplier and ensure you are complying with bans in your state. 8. When ordering, be clear about the products you want Even reputable brands still stock plastic items - so be clear with your supplier that you want to order the certified compostable version of a specific product. It's also a good idea to write down the codes for items you have selected. Don't assume you'll get matching lids either - too often we see businesses ordering compostable containers or coffee cups, believing they will receive matching compostable lids. This is not always the case and are often sent standard plastic lids instead. 9. Check every product you receive, and look out for plastic identification codes If you have ordered a compostable bioplastic item, you will find the code #7 PLA on it. However, most manufacturers also make products with other plastics in them which will carry a different symbol. Be on the look out for #1 PET, #5 PP and #6 PS, commonly used plastics in foodware. If you receive any you did not order, send them back. 10. Reach out to us if you’re feeling overwhelmed If you're one of our Plastic Free Places members (find out if eligible and join here), we will help you identify what you need, as well as ideas for reducing single-use overall. Just reach out!


    A common question we're asked from businesses is “what about our back-of-house plastics - how do we reduce them?” By implementing some simple changes, you will be surprised at how much plastic can actually be saved. So... what plastics are we talking about, and how can these be successfully eliminated? Cling wrap and single-use plastic storage containers Cling-wrap serves a wonderful purpose, but with its useful life being short and its post-disposal life being forever, the more businesses that can move away from this plastic item, the better! Single-use plastic storage containers, due to food residues, contaminate recycling streams and clog up landfill. These types of containers are also often full of toxic chemicals such as BPA’s that leach into the food upon storage. Eliminate both cling wrap and plastic single-use storage containers by Investing in durable, reusable, stackable, sealable, washable, heat resistant storage containers - the best ones include BPA free hard plastic varieties or stainless steel types. The upfront investment will be high, however in the long run, costs will be saved through ceasing the supply of single-use and a reduced need for waste collection services. What about “biodegradable” or “compostable” cling wrap? There is a big difference between these two terms. Always steer clear of cling wraps labeled only as ‘biodegradable’ (without being compostable) as they are most likely virgin plastic that has been given an additive to promote degradation. This means it will simply break into problematic microplastics and never truly decompose. Compostable cling wraps certified under Australian Composting Standard AS 5810 are a better alternative. Always look out for the Compost Standard logo to ensure that this product is what it says it is. There are a number of brands emerging that have attained the Australian standard, such as The Great Wrap. These materials are still single-use and contribute to waste and resource depletion - reusable items are always the preferred alternative. Gloves The requirement to use gloves in back-of-house operations is another frequent point of conversation, as these too are single-use and disposed of in large numbers. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code does not require food handlers to use gloves while preparing food. This is positive for both the environment and business as gloves are just another waste item and cost that businesses and the planet can save on. Eliminate by: The NSW Food Authority suggests that frequent and thorough hand washing in conjunction with the utilisation of tools such as spoons and tongs in place of gloves, greatly reduces the risks of cross contamination. The best idea is to have a small quantity of certified home compostable gloves on hand for situations that definitely require their use (like cutting up millions of chillies). These gloves from Biopak fit the criteria and are a good alternative when gloves are a necessity. Like with cling wrap, beware of gloves claiming to be ‘biodegradable’ - always check that the gloves are certified under Australian home composting standard AS 5810. Chux The notorious Chux is used by the truckload in restaurants and cafes around the country. They are an essential part of hygiene and serve a very convenient purpose, but did you know that they’re basically plastic? Eliminate by: Invest in good quality, natural fibre, reusable and washable cloths. Look for material such as cotton or bamboo, with no plastic components that can deposit microplastics in your grey water stream. Excessive food packaging Excessive food packaging is difficult to successfully reduce. Due to the nature of the food system, food items often come from all over Australia and the world, resulting in layers of pallet wrap and plastic containment. Certain fresh fruits and vegetables are often delivered in boxes lined with plastic bags, making these waste items hard to avoid. Eliminate by: The best way to reduce over-packaged foods as well as your business's food miles is to support your local food economy. Reach out to local farmers, suppliers and producers - many of them will deliver in reusable containers that can be returned, and if you do find yourself in a situation where there are no alternatives, remember that your voice carries a lot of power! Get in touch with manufacturers and demand change. If the market is driven by desires such as this, then businesses will be more likely to positively respond. Buying items in bulk also reduces excessive packaging issues. Note: we are impartial and do not receive kickbacks from any items listed in this guide. Suggestions are simply to help you find alternatives.


    As a small business, you might feel a little overwhelmed or even somewhat guilty about the impact your business is having on the environment, particularly the number of single-use coffee cups we use. But we’re here to help you take the lead. Our program as a step-by-step guide to supercharging your stance in your community as a leader on waste and single use plastics reduction, even if you don’t consciously realise this as a business goal (yet). What is the program? And why should you think about implementing it in your business? The program is coined “Bring Your Own Cup Day'' or “BYO Cup Day” for short. The idea is that over the period of (ideally) a month, your café works to supercharge and normalise the number of customers using reusables, culminating in #BYOCupDay. Whilst single-use coffee cups are just one of the many single use items wreaking havoc on the environment, the program intentionally targets these items specifically as their daily consumption amongst the masses is representative of a deeply ingrained throwaway society - one that this program seeks to change. Australians throw out an insane 2.7 million single-use or disposable coffee cups every single day- over a billion per year, it is statistics like these that we call upon you, to help to reduce. In 2021, our Plastic Free Places team engaged in a pilot with nine cafés across the country. There was a marked increase in the use of reusables for ALL cafes involved. Results of this can be found HERE. So how does it work? This guide will encourage you and your community to think about reusables over single-use; whether that be through encouraging BYO practices, cup networks, mug libraries or simply by utilising good, old fashioned dining-in. If you’re a business located within one of our Plastic Free Places communities then we are available to engage with you one-on-one, to reach the goal of hosting a ‘BYO Cup Day’ - make contact with us via any of our socials if you’re interested! So here we go, here is all you need to know to start acting on single-use waste, today. THE PROCESS 1. Determine current behaviors your business has with regards to reusables. Ask yourself... ● Do you currently encourage the use of reusable cups? ● If yes, how have you done this? A noteworthy point is that habits take 21 days to form, therefore any communications that you undertake to engage with your community in the lead up to a BYO Day should be conducted over this timeframe at a minimum. We suggest you make it a one month process. Each week, your cafe will tally how many customers use reusable cups, with the goal being to increase the percentage of reusables being used each week. The final day, “BYO Cup Day'' should be targeted as the day to achieve the highest numbers of reusables used, or even better, a day without any single use cups at all. 2. Increase engagement and steps to take in the lead up to the UYO Day Whilst the aim of the program is to culminate in a final “day” the buildup to this day is of equal importance, as this is where your community will form their habits and lasting change can be created. Ways to do this include: Display signage to help encourage people to use their own reusables. Implement a reusable cup swap system such as Green Caffeen or Huskee Swap - these systems can greatly reduce the amount of single use cups used by increasing the availability of reusables in the event they are forgotten/not prioritised. Implement a mug or jar library to encourage reuse - cups can be used either by donation or on a ‘boomerang’ style system. Inevitably cup numbers will dwindle, so keeping them restocked is imperative for the library to be effective. You can do call outs on your social media asking locals to drop off unwanted mugs or restock from nearby op shops. Click HERE to download our guide to starting a mug library. Run promos and giveaways for customers who use their own cups to potentially win free coffees, coffee beans or other giveaway incentives. One idea is to get another local business or councillor to sponsor a competition - and every BYO cup used gets one entry into a draw to win the prize. Stamp your single use coffee cups with reminders to UYO next time. Encourage your customers to take selfies with their reusables using hashtags such as #byoselfie or #byomugshot. Invite local social media influencers to be active in the process, getting them to also take selfies and post about the program. Encourage “me time” through dining in and slowing down. 3. Next, think about the measurement process. “How can I record the use of reusables versus single-use, in order to determine the effectiveness of the program?” Recommendations on how to do this include: POS systems. (Ensure you measure both reusables for takeaway and dine-in) Chalk boards Other physical ‘scoreboards’ We recommend not using a piece of paper next to the till, as it gets forgotten about during peak periods. A physical scoreboard where the customer can mark their own participation helps spread the load of record keeping if there is no suitable POS system available. Or you can do both, to encourage customer participation, and for other customers to witness that participation. 4. Promote your BYO Cup Day This is obviously a critical factor in ensuring the success and participation of the campaign. Promotion should be put into place well before the day, and be a daily factor leading up to it. You might decide to do some giveaways or free coffees for those who BYO cup on the day – this is something you can promote beforehand to encourage participation. Be sure to give weekly updates on how many reusables have been used, and therefore, single use cups saved. Reshare any posts your cafe may be tagged in, create as many stories as possible to build up the hype. Aside from doing a consistent blast on your own social media platforms, team up with prominent individuals in your community, as well as other organisations. For example, if your business is located nearby a gym, large office building or yoga studio, you could partner with these businesses to help get the message out. It is also important to refrain from posting any social media images which include single use items, this will send the wrong message out to your community and encourage individuals to post similar images, perpetuating the throwaway culture. More on photos.. If possible, get a heap of photos of reusable cups in action at the cafe before the campaign gets started. Hopefully your cafe has some on hand already - if not, organise a quick shoot using your phone. More on signage.. Displaying signage in your cafe sends messages to your customers. By outwardly showing that waste reduction is a key focus of your business, people may feel encouraged and be more willing to change their habits. Do this early - have them on display from day one of the campaign. Have them in prominent places such as right at the point of sale, on the coffee machine and drink fridge doors. 5. On the day The success of the day will come down to how wholeheartedly the campaign is adopted by not only you as the owner or manager, but how your staff interact every customer in the weeks preceding your BYO day, as well as on the day itself. Bringing a vibrant and enthusiastic energy to your space that highlights how important individual action is for environmental protection will appeal to community members who recognise their own behaviours and desires to implement positive change. Take photos! Lots of them. Host a cup selfie station and do live social media stories. Overall, be engaging with customers and share your story of why this transition is important to you! 6. Review and evaluate your UYO Day Once data is collected and analysed, do a social media post that celebrates your achievements. If you haven’t had any media coverage prior to the day, why not write a media release and send it out to your local media network. Often local business chambers can assist you with contacts if they aren’t readily available. Now that you have done all of the hard work, why not keep the ball rolling? We recommend continuing to focus your efforts on building your community around reusable ethos. Host BYO days, once a week, or just once a month to begin with. The more regular you can be with your community the more likely it will be that long lasting change can be created. One day, you might even be completely single-use cup free! RESOURCES Our Guide to starting a Mug Library Reusables Posters


    They say it takes takes 21 days to form a new habit… and what better habit can we get into than ditching the single-use and using reusables! IN 2021, we were inspired to trial a new pilot project in nine cafes across Australia to supercharge and normalise the number of customers using reusables, culminating in #BYOCupDay on Friday 29 Jan. 🙌 Each week, these cafe's tallied how many of their customers used reusable cups, with the goal to see the % of reusables increase each week as their customers started to form the new habit of reuse. On #BYOCupDay, we worked with them towards achieving the highest number reusable cups possible, which for some meant no takeaway in single-use cups! What we did We worked with our cafes to encourage and support their customers to increase reusables by: displaying “Reusables Preferred Here” posters so that customers felt comfortable to BYO. having conversations with customers about the campaign, or simply mentioning that reusables are welcome. implementing reusable coffee cup swap systems which allowed customers to borrow and return cups. implementing a mug library for customers to borrow a mug and return it on their next visit. offering free coffees or discounts for customers who brought their own cup. selling their own branded reusable cups and offering the first drink free. stamping their single-use cups with a reminder for their customers to BYO next time. promoting their efforts (and that of their customers) on social media. encouraging customers to take selfies with their reusables, with hashtags #byoselfie and #byomugshot. inviting local social media influencers to take selfies with their BYO cups. encouraging customers to take ‘me-time’ and dine-in if they forgot their own cup. displaying tally boards indicating that they were aiming to beat their current numbers of reusables. allowing customers to participate by chalking up their own reusable cups on tally boards. holding competitions with prizes for repeat customers who who were the most consistent at using their own cups. promoting reusables for other items than just takeaway coffees. The results There was a marked increase in the use of reusables for ALL cafes involved. Results were: Cairns @Blackbirdwarehouse The % of customers who had their drink in a reusable cup (includes dine-in figures): 1. In week one, 55% of cups used at were reusables. 2. In week two, 56% were reusables. 3. In week three, 63% were reusables. On ‘BYO cup day’, 73% of customers used their own cup, borrowed a reusable cup or dined-in. “Participating in the event prompted us to have a look at our ordering history. We waste 189,000 pieces of single-use takeaway coffee cups and lids a year, and could save up to $13,000 yearly across both of our stores if we promoted a greater focus on reusables.” Blackbird Cairns Townsville Increase in the number of reusable cups used, by comparing the last week of the campaign to the first: 75% increase for @specialty_coffee_trader 45% increase for @shaka.goodfoodculture 48% increase for @thequarterstsv, who are always well-supported with reusables. 34% increase for @thecoffeetreetsvcollective. 47% increase for @kdsvegantakeaway, who do not serve coffee, instead participating by encouraging customers to BYO containers. More regulars remembering their reusable cups at @tashasplace_tsv (no data recorded). “We had an amazing Use Your Own Cup Day! We are very excited to see how the numbers increase over the coming months of 2021. We are always so happy to see our customers bring in their reusable cups and we highly encourage it.” Specialty Coffee Trader, Townsville “Some people didn’t know that we accepted reusable cups and started bringing theirs in once they saw the signage that reusables were preferred, and staff just mentioning it to regulars also helped.” Tasha’s Place, Townsville Perth @sondercoffeeperth The % of customers who brought their own cup (excludes dine-in figures): 1. In week one, 17.5% of customers. 2. In week two, 20.3% of customers. 3. In week three, 21.2% of customers. On ‘Use your own cup day’, 100% of customers used their own cup or dined-in. Byron @buncoffee Whilst data was not gathered, Bun Coffee reported that a number of regular customers have made the switch across to reusables cups, eliminating their daily single-use habit. Not only this, but also the number of customers bringing along their own jars when purchasing Bun’s on-site roasted coffee beans increased. Follow up from the campaign showed many more daily regulars converting from single-use to reusables as a consequence of the increased attention to this issue. “Talking to our customers and especially our regulars, we're loving that they are trying hard to always bring their own cup. We've definitely seen an increase in reusable cups, and by us taking the opportunity to set up a mug library, we have seen those numbers further increase” Bun Coffee, Byron ⠀⠀ Why are we doing this? Across Australia, 2.7 million single-use throwaway cups are discarded every day. They cannot be recycled in kerbside collections due to their plastic lining. They contaminate the recycling stream, end up in landfill, or worse, in our environment. Our throwaway culture devalues all of us... everything and everyone 😢. We want to build a reuse culture and show that reuse is possible and more beneficial than single-use to businesses and our communities. The concept of a ‘BYO Cup Day’ was inspired by UYO.NZ which started in NZ in 2018 and we’re excited to bring it to Australia. Moving forward We were so blown away by the feedback that we now offer this program to all our membedeveloped a toolkit (see related post) so other cafes can follow suit. We each have the opportunity to make positive changes this year, we just have to make a start. ⁣We believe BYO reusables shouldn't just be one day of the year, it needs to be every day.. we just need to create the habit!


    Through Plastic Free Places, we’ve worked with thousands of businesses to help them eliminate single-use plastics. It’s fair to say we have a pretty good idea of what it takes. But when we first started our pilot project Plastic Free Noosa a few years ago, we didn’t know what we were getting into. Our plan was to implement a community program to reduce single-use plastics, and then write a guide on how we did it, so other communities could replicate the process. Simple enough? Except it wasn’t simple. Why? Because the packaging industry is so complex and rife with greenwashing and misinformation that implementing ANY program to help businesses make the right choices is not easy. Combine that problem with the lack of time and resources small businesses have, and you have a real challenge - how to motivate businesses to want to make the change, and then help them make it successfully. Simply providing information to businesses is often not enough for them to make significant changes. Addressing barriers to transition For businesses who want to make the transition, there are barriers that affect success: Small businesses owners have a lack of time Packaging is never urgent in their minds and they want to make the transition as easy and quick as possible. Businesses often rely on their suppliers for advice This is a problem because: Suppliers generally have poor knowledge around the alternative products on the market and often do not invest in staff education to improve this because it's not a core focus. Manufacturers have very clever ways to ensure their products end up on supplier shelves, and greenwashing is very convincing to almost everyone, including suppliers. Suppliers may have their own interests - we have seen instances where they are pushing products they know are misleading so they can shift their product. As a result, suppliers often give misinformation. Sadly, false or misleading information leaves many business owners cynical, deflated and disempowered. The packaging industry is largely unregulated Many operators cleverly design plastic products to look ‘eco’, and use misleading terminology to capitalise on the green market. Businesses often buy into this even with the best advice. Composting standards are confusing and there is little understanding of what these are, or what they mean. Alternative packaging can be overwhelming It can be hard for a business to identify alternatives that meet their exact needs. Often they don’t know where to start, they get the wrong products and give up, or they make some changes but simply become overwhelmed with the process. Self-directed programs do not overcome these barriers... Even with the best advice and resources. Each business is different so there is no one size fits all approach, general advice isn't enough to help a business find alternatives that suit their needs. On top of that, changes in the packaging industry happen so frequently that resources become out of date quickly and become dead ends for businesses if they are not kept up to date. As a result of all this, over 80% of businesses who try, get it wrong This isn’t an exaggeration. Many businesses join our program and tell us they are already plastic free. When we visit them, most (at least 80%, no matter which community we are working in) are still using plastic and don't realise. Business barriers to participation So far, we have only discussed businesses who are motivated to make the change. But there are many barriers that will prevent businesses from even getting to that point. These include: They have preconceived ideas that the cost and/or quality of alternatives (or the viability of reusables) won't suit their business, which stops them from even trying. They don’t see or understand the value in switching. They simply forget, never find the time, or put it in the too hard basket. They don’t see the point of compostables if the materials aren’t being composted. They think they have already done everything or know everything (BTW these businesses are often using greenwashed plastic). Staff may be supportive, but an owner or manager has to be engaged to make the switch, and their motivations may lie elsewhere. Turnover in staff and owners is common. So… do self-managed programs work? If the program is purely DIY (i.e. information and resources with no direct assistance or follow up), the answer is no. Believe me, if it did, we would be doing that! In this situation, you will get some businesses accessing the information - these are the ones that are trying to switch anyway, and you will likely think the program is working because of them. Councils commonly display these on their websites as examples of businesses doing well under their DIY program. But these are the exceptions. Ultimately, a self-managed approach looks good and proactive, but doesn't do much to effect change. Often councils don't have expertise in this area and underestimate the complexities involved with businesses and the supply chain, and don't understand the barriers that prevent many businesses from successfully transitioning and how to overcome them. Lastly, the outcomes of DIY programs are difficult to quantify. Even if a council invests in surveys, businesses often think they are using plastic-free alternatives, but few of them are actually plastic-free. How is Plastic Free Places different? The reason our program is successful is because of our direct engagement. We go into a business, see the products they’re using, show them alternatives, find reusable or compostable solutions that work specifically for them, and identify where they can get them. And we can do it quickly and save businesses time. We help them reduce costs, and answer any questions. We work with all the local suppliers, helping to educate them on products. We know what products all they stock, and which of those products are good, and which are simply greenwashing. We also work with manufacturers and keep on top of changes in the packaging industry. In short, we can provide the café with exactly what they need to successfully transition. Plus, we collect data and can quantify the changes, to show that our program works. What now? Firstly, we commend any council who wants to do work in this area. While simply putting up info on a website is largely ineffective, there are ways to go down a semi self-directed route and create change with the right resourcing and support. If you’re planning on this, you should be able to answer yes to the following questions. Do you have someone with enough knowledge of packaging to create the resources? Someone who can identify greenwashing (note: this is tricky), and match products that are compatible with your current or future waste and resource recovery streams? Compostable products do carry many environmental benefits regardless of whether or not they get composted, but ultimately, you will want to work towards collecting these for composting. Many composters will not accept foreign certifications and it’s better to get the alternative packaging right from the start, rather than businesses using products that will not actually be accepted for composting. Are you able to investigate new products on the market for suitability? And can you keep your resources up to date? Changes in the packaging industry happen so frequently that this needs to be updated regularly to remain current. Can you encourage and motivate businesses to go plastic free? Do you have someone who can continue to work with suppliers to facilitate getting the right information and products to businesses? Can you answer questions from the businesses, who will look for your advice and support? Do you have someone who understands packaging able to check on the businesses to see how they are going and pick up on any issues? Can you track changes over time to show the program is working? Can you assist with the introduction of reusables? There is so much more to this than encouraging your community to BYO (though that is good too). There are many great reusable systems but most businesses will not adopt them unless they have been approached directly and understand how they work.


    There's plenty of good ideas for you to ‘borrow’ in your pursuit to reduce waste and reliance on single-use packaging. Some of those ideas have been created by businesses exactly like yours. They’ve taken the plunge first, so you don’t have to, you just get to copy and paste! Below are some solutions you might like to copy. Keep in mind that these businesses started with small changes first, and it's those small changes that you can start today, then grow from. The milk vat Dejaxo Artisan Cafe & Bakery - Perth, WA Have you ever embarked on a project that continued to evolve and grow into something you never could have imagined? This is exactly what happened to Damien and Kate Nabbs, owners of Dejaxo Artisan Bakery and Cafe. What started with an idea to make their own in-house gelato unexpectedly became a mission to rid their operations of single-use plastic milk bottles. In between was a lot of learning, trialling and still more trialling today. Today, in a corner store style cafe on a leafy street, their Mt Hawthorn cafe and bakery is trialling their newest initiative, the milk vat. The milk vat sits atop the counter next to the coffee machine, filled with 100 litres of fresh milk sourced and produced by them. But becoming a milk producer isn’t a simple task and it certainly isn’t something most cafes or restaurants want to embark upon. So how can the milk vat work for others? Damien and Kate’s vision is to assist other cafes, with smaller milk needs than their own, to start using milk vats too. As a registered milk producer they’re now able to sell milk to others, paving the way for milk vats to be installed across the city. Their drive to challenge the status quo of how milk is used and consumed in the hospitality sector grew as their knowledge of the dairy industry grew. They wanted to be a part of finding a solution not only to the plastics crisis but also to assist local dairy farmers, many of which are continuing to struggle despite our unceasing demand, while also offering their customers the very best product. There are so many upsides to this project; less plastic, farmers are paid properly and customers get better products, and all for just 10 cents extra per coffee. This is certainly an idea worth getting behind and spreading. No single-use cups Brother Bear - Mt Barker, SA Have you thought about ditching single-use coffee cups altogether? Brother Bear, a cafe in the Adelaide Hills did just that and haven’t looked back. Jess Coull, owner of Brother Bear Cafe in Mt Barker, found herself frustrated with the lack of behaviour change when SA introduced a ban on lightweight plastic bags in 2009. Instead, people just bought thicker plastic bags. If supermarkets didn’t offer this option, then customers would be forced to change their behaviour, not just replace plastic with plastic! The same principle applies to coffee cups - if they are there, people use them. Jess said, “I believe it is our responsibility as business owners to lead the way and only offer sustainable options”. So, Jess began putting into action the end of disposable coffee cups at Brother Bear. They kicked off the BYO movement with the campaign. If customers brought their own cup it could be filled for $2. There was plenty of explanation and education that Brother Bear would no longer be offering disposable, single-use cups. In addition to a “mug library” they have implemented a ‘swap and go’ system called Green Caffeen, which is a free reusable cafe cup system. The customer can scan, swap, drink and return the cup. We asked Jess if she would encourage cafes to do the same and she enthusiastically replied “YES! Start slowly. Test the waters with a discount day - promote swap schemes during the lead up - give plenty of warning - then go for it!!!” Read the full story here Single-use surcharge Bayleaf - Byron Bay Cafes have long been incentivising the use of BYO practices by offering discounts when customers opt to bring their own cups and containers. These simple discounts, usually no more than 50 cents, have become fairly common and saw a rapid growth in conscientious customers ditching single-use. But what about the repeat customers or tourists who are a little slow on the BYO uptake? And should a cafe really absorb the costs of what we should all be doing anyway? That’s where Cups for Change came in. In January 2020, Byron based cafe hotspot, Bayleaf decided it was time to start adding a surcharge for single-use coffee cups (the BYO discount still remained in place). That’s right, if you decided you didn’t want to dine in, participate in their reusable network Huskee Swap or BYO cup, then Bayleaf, along with a number of other local cafes who jumped on board, would add a 30 cent fee on top of your coffee. What Cups for Change aimed to do was encourage reuse behaviour over single-use in customers who may had never given it any serious thought. They hoped to change behaviour surrounding the daily cup of coffee, believing that if people are called out on something or become financially disadvantaged from their daily practices, they may then enact change within themselves. Overall, the scheme was a huge success, with Bayleaf reporting there to be a lot of positive feedback amongst their large portion of tourist patrons, with an increase in keep cup sales,  as well as applause from locals who needed that extra ‘push’ to engage in reuse practices. Mug library The Hopiti Cafe Coffee Van - Townsville Coffee vans in their very nature are takeaway, which means even if they want to ditch single-use, it's going to be fundamentally more challenging. But just because it’s difficult it doesn’t mean that innovation and questioning the status-quo isn’t happening. We’d like to introduce you to The Hopiti Cafe Coffee Van, based in Townsville. Being close to the beach they wanted to steer their customers away from single-use cups. The prospect of seeing customers even accidentally littering a cup is enough to make any business owner’s stomach sink! So they introduced a Mug Library. A mug library is an initiative that keeps disposable cups out of the waste stream. A business builds their collection through donations of excess mugs that we all have in our cupboards. They clean them and display them in various ways - some in a basket, others on a shelf or a wall with hooks. Often there are a few cups with lids, which helps people who will be driving or walking along the beach. What they all have in common is that customers are welcome to choose a cup to borrow, they take it to the counter and leave with their drink in the chosen mug. Next time they visit, they return their rinsed mug to a ‘dirty cups’ basket and pick a fresh cup for their next drink. “It’s not for everyone, but if it means another single-use cup is avoided, then it’s worth it. They are really popular in NZ so we just need to make it the normal thing to do here.” said Chris Hopper of Hopiti Cafe. Mug libraries are a great place to start for food vendors looking to reduce their reliance on single-use packaging. They don’t require a big financial outlay to set-up and they can help build a dedicated community of loyal customers. What’s not to love? We're always on the lookout for inspiring stories about cafes reducing single-use, if you have one please contact us. Note: We don't benefit commercially from any brands or products we link to or recommend.


    ..with guest writer Molly Harris, Digital Creator at Farai Creative Perhaps you’ve audited your business practices and have made changes to better reflect your values; maybe you’re in the process of eliminating single-use plastics or you’re working hard to encourage your customers to bring their own cups and containers. How does your brand reflect this? We’ve teamed up with Molly, an ethical and eco digital creator at Farai Creative to give you some tips on how to spruce up your image. For those of you that are genuine about being a sustainable cafe, bar, restaurant or food van, these tips can help you on your path to promoting your business. With the right digital marketing tools and strategy, and with some time and creativity, it’s certainly possible to have a thriving café that welcomes conscious customers who share your values – customers who might even love your ethos so much that they’ll create shareable content and help spread the word. If you want to know where to find customers who care for our planet, and how to encourage these people through your doors, there are a few vital tips to get started in your sustainable digital marketing strategy. Encouraging conscious customers (and promoters!) starts with: Finding your audience and talking to them Half of digital marketing success lies in community building – I truly believe that! The method here is to find your people - the customers who love what you do and who’ll bellow about your business from the rooftops (if given the opportunity). So, how do you find your people? First and foremost, determine and outline who your ideal customer is. Chances are, this person might already be a frequent visitor to your café. If you like, go one step further and create a customer persona or an imaginary social profile for them. Outline what they like and dislike, what their goals and challenges are, where they hang out, and what their favourite social platforms are. Then, in your digital marketing: Work on building your presence on the platforms your ideal customer uses. Use hashtags that they’ll be searching for (not hashtags that your competitors will be searching for). Create and share content that they need– content that’s useful and informative for them. Join Facebook groups that they’ll also be members of, like Plastic Free Living Tips & Tricks or Sustainable Living Australia. Collaborate with leading influencers, bloggers, or inspirers who share your values. Chances are, the people following them will like what you’re doing, too. Search who’s tagging your competitors in products – go and give these people a follow or say hi! Once you’ve found your people, remember to create conversations, comment, and support them right back. Don’t be afraid of sharing the humanity behind your business. Making sure your marketing imagery reflects your values The imagery you use sends a message about the type of business you are, especially on your website and on visual social media platforms, like Instagram. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Getting started with on-brand imagery starts by creating a visual branding strategy, which works as a guide to answer: What types of photos will you use? Popular image types for cafés often include images of items on the menu, the café space, graphics or quotes, and reshares of images taken by customers (make sure to ask permission first!). What will/will not be included in your photos? For example, if you don’t want to encourage the use of a single-use cup at your café, make sure that you don’t source and post imagery that shows single-use. This could send a confusing message to your audience. What colours will you use? Think about the colours in your logo or the feeling you want to encourage with your images. Generally, muted browns and greens help customers feel a sense of earthiness and sustainability. Lots of bright colours can evoke a fresh and fun feeling. Your imagery is often the first impression a potential new follower or customer will receive about your brand, so, make sure it’s sending the right message. Most importantly, however you choose to brand your imagery, make sure it’s consistent. If you can, find a product or food photographer to work with long-term. Partnering with a photographer can help to create consistency in your imagery and high-quality images can help build a stronger visual brand. Making sure your marketing copy (words) reflects your values Just as your imagery should send a message about your values, so should your copy – all writing on all platforms. To create consistency in your copy and brand voice, create a brand voice style guide. In this guide, ask yourself: Who are you speaking to in your writing? (Who is your ideal customer?) How do you want your audience to perceive your brand? If your café was a person, what would their personality be like? What sayings, metaphors, and adjectives would your café use? It’s okay to change your brand tone of voice depending on the situation, but it’s best to make sure that every piece of writing published (whether that’s blog posts, captions, or emails), sounds like it comes from the same person. Make sure everyone who writes for your brand is on the same page with what to include or exclude in their writing to achieve a consistent brand voice. Getting noticed on niche directories A great way to encourage new visitors to your business is to make sure you’re listed on the directories they’re visiting. For environmentally conscious customers, some essential directories to list yourself on include: EcoPages Greenfinder The Urban List (ensure to use your keywords!) Even better, consider becoming a B Corp or a member of 1% for the Planet. Not only will your café gain an accreditation or make a pledge to give back to the planet, but you’ll also be listed in their respective directories. Above all, don’t greenwash in your marketing. Greenwashing (making people believe that your business  is doing more to protect the environment than it really is) is the number one way to lose trust with your followers and customers. Read more about how to avoid greenwashing on our blog here. If the imagery and copy you use sends an honest, on-brand message, and if you position yourself to be accessible to your audience, create conversations with them, and provide useful content, I’m certain you’ll be on your way to calling-in your ideal conscious customers. It’s these small pieces of the puzzle that make for a holistic, sustainable approach to digital marketing. Time to get started! About Molly Molly is an ethical and eco digital creator. She creates and implements brand and digital marketing strategies for conscious businesses and entrepreneurs at Farai Creative. In her spare time, Molly shares tips and tales about ethical and eco living on her personal blog, Molly Farai, and co-runs WA Ethical Collective – a Perth-based community who are passionate about ethical clothing and manufacturing.


    As we know, the way in which society chooses to drink coffee and eat out has changed dramatically over the last few decades, perhaps not in all cultures, but evidently so in Australia. Long gone are the days of extra fluffy cappuccinos in small white porcelain cups with those gastly cubes of sugar on the side. These days we’re now largely single-use dependent, placing convenience over environmental and social logic. Thankfully, the status quo is changing and included in the next evolution of our cafe culture are Reusable Networks. What is a Reusable Network? A Reusable Network is designed to replace single-use takeaway packaging with equivalent reusable solutions that are borrowed, similar to a library.  In most cases, a customer pays a small deposit to use the item, whether a cup or container, and receives their deposit back when the item is returned. All networks operate slightly differently - we explore these below. The network effect comes into play when multiple cafes participate as customers can return the item to any participating business. However, individual businesses can also utilise a network on their own, providing a swap service to their regular customers. The advantage of networks is that they appeal to people who wish to do the right thing but often forget to BYO, or who are caught out getting takeaway when they didn't expect it. Reusable Networks are easily integrated into current business operations and are especially popular with regular customers and those that order ahead through text or apps. They can also greatly benefit a business's bottom line through ongoing savings on disposable items. They encourage repeat customers and support a healthier planet. Are they safe to use? It might be strange to think about using a cup/container that has been floating around a reuse network and wondering whether or not this is a safe practice. All cups received by cafes, whether clean on arrival or not, undergo commercial cleaning procedures, just like the cutlery, glasses and plates we use to eat off in cafes and restaurants - making them perfectly safe and hygienic to use. In fact this is one of the advantages -  the cafe is able to wash the cup and be assured of its cleanliness. Reusable Networks available nationally Here are a few common swap networks available nationally. Green Caffeen (NSW based) Green Caffeen is a swap and go reusable coffee cup system which utilises an app to manage transactions. For the customer: Customers download the Green Caffeen app, scan their cup out before taking it away and then scan it back in the next time they are in any participating cafe (like borrowing a book). It is free for customers as long as the cup is returned or swapped within 30 days.  If not, there is an overdue fee of $12.99 to cover the cost of the cup. For the business: For businesses there is no charge - Green Caffeen will supply cups and lids, as well as listing businesses on their app. Customers can return, scan and swap their cup at any participating cafe within the network. Renome (WA based) Renome is a deposit based swap and go reusable coffee cup system. For the customer: Customers pay a $5 deposit, refundable on return. They can also choose to keep swapping their cup, keeping their deposit in the system. For the business: Businesses purchases the Renome cups ($5 each). There is no on-going membership fee. The cup is cost neutral, meaning if the customer does not return the cup the business is not out of pocket. Return boxes (made out of recycled cups) can also be purchased, for customers to easily drop off their used cups. Huskee Cups (NSW based) Huskee cups are known mostly as a BYO cup, but also operates as a Reusable Network. For the customer: The customer purchases a Huskee Cup to join the Huskeeswap network at participating cafes. Cups range from $16 - $20 at the time of this post. A customer can then drop off a Huskee Cup at a participating venue, make their order and then receive it in a commercially cleaned Huskee Cup. Cups can be infinitely swapped through the network. note: not all cafes that sell retail Huskee Cups are a part of the network. For the business: The business purchases wholesale Huskee Cups to retail to customers, as well as a ‘float’ of additional cups to start their network. Huskee recommends that a minimum of 12 cups be available for swap. The only expense to the business is the initial wholesale price purchase of the cup which neutralises when the same quantity of cups are sold at retail price. note: Huskee cups are not recyclable in municipal recycling systems due to their composite nature (they are made from coffee husks and polypropylene) . In an attempt to close the loop, Huskee accepts damaged and redundant cups back through their member cafes, where they aim to repurpose the discarded cups. Returnr (Melbourne based) Returnr offer food-grade stainless steel cups and containers as a part of their network. Lids are not included, but are available to purchase. For the customer: Customers pay a $6 deposit, refundable on return. If they choose, they can purchase a reusable silicone lid or use a compostable lids provided by the cafe/restaurant. They can also choose to keep swapping their cup, keeping their deposit in the system. For the business: Businesses pay for disposable compostable lids and an access membership fee of $48 per month. Returnr provide all marketing and display materials. Returnr’s range of products can be accessed in exchange for a $5 deposit, which can be returned for a refund to Returnr at any time. Deposit costs are recouped via the customer $6 deposit. Retub (Melbourne based) Retub is a reusable food container that has a built-in exchange program called Reswap. For the customer: The customer first purchases a Retub. There are two sizes available, 500ml or 1litre. Containers retail from $38-$45 (at the time of this post). The customer then owns the container and can join the Reswap service. Retub containers have a glass insert. When the customer make a swap, they do so by going to a participating Reswap retailer, and the retailer swaps the glass insert with another with the food items inside. This ensures they are eating from a clean vessel. The Retub can also be used as a regular BYO container (i.e. without swapping the insert). For the business: Basic set up as a participating food vendor is currently free, the cafe/restaurant purchases the initial Retubs wholesale to then sell at retail to their customers, with cafes also being able to purchase additional glass inserts at a much subsidised rate to make sure there are sufficient swap quantities. Some participating food vendors also let customers  simply borrow a clean inner retub container (even if you do not bring in a full retub) for a deposit. Please note: This information is simply to help you identify services. We don't recommend one over the other and we don't benefit commercially from any brands or products we list.


    As the demand for ‘green’ products continues to grow, marketers are more than willing to tap into our concerns about the environment for their own benefit. Which is why we need to be ever vigilant of 'greenwashing'. What is greenwashing? Greenwashing is something which “makes people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is [1].” These days there are a lot of buzzwords thrown around such as ‘sustainable’, ‘ethical’, ‘biodegradable’ and ‘eco-friendly’, and whilst these can have meaning on their own, without credible certifications or independent verification, these terms are often simply false and misleading greenwashing. Why do companies greenwash? Most of the time, a company that greenwashes isn’t straight out lying, but employing clever marketing tactics to capitalise on our growing demand to do the right thing. It is often the lack of information, or deliberately unclear information, that is used to ‘greenwash’. So, what’s the problem? Essentially, greenwashing reduces our confidence in environmental claims and disadvantages ethical traders [2]. It also has negative effects on our environment and increases contamination of our waste streams. Greenwashing in food packaging Sadly, many café and restaurant owners falsely believe that they are making environmentally sound choices, when in fact, through no fault of their own, they have been misguided by false claims. This can be quite deflating and shows the damaging nature of greenwashing on our confidence as a community to make real changes. “I thought we had the “eco” coffee cup lids, but it turns out there were polystyrene, I didn’t even know you could get polystyrene lids.” Café Owner Many items on the market that make “eco” claims are ripe with hidden plastics and other nasties. If a product does not conform to industry accepted composting standards, then it may contain some kind of glue, ink, chemicals, dye or hidden lining that would affect its ability to compost safely. Unfortunately, when it comes to clear labelling of food packaging, there is little regulation, contributing to the problem of greenwashing. A national industry wide adoption of a clear labelling system with increased regulation would assist. If greenwashing is so common, how can I tell if a product is legitimate? Words should mean things, but sometimes they’re employed to misdirect us and their meaning is hollow. For example, if used without any proof or composting standards, these words or phrases can be a sign of greenwashing: - Eco - Green - Recyclable - Sustainable - All-natural natural - Safe for the environment - Good for the earth - Environmentally friendly - Biodegradable / bio - Made from plants Confusingly, these words are also legitimately used by products that can back up their claims. To get to the bottom of whether or not a product is worth your investment, it is best to look out for third party certification. Certifications and Labelling Products can be certified compostable, which means it is proven to break down in a specific timeframe under specific conditions. If a product claims compostability, it must be backed up with a certification. In Australia, the industry standards are the Australian Standard for Home Composting (AS 5810) or the Australian Standard for Commercial Composting (AS 4736). Look out for these symbols when choosing your packaging. Many compostable products sold in Australia are certified to European or American Standards, and while these are a better choice than products with no certification, the best solution would be government policy to require all products to be certified to the Australian Standard. Be wary of symbols used by marketers to indicate supposed biodegradability or compostability, but that are not linked to a standard. Ambiguous Claims Look out for ambiguous claims such as “17% less plastic”, where the consumer may not know what is being compared or whether the statement is true. There may be no evidence to support the claim, and whilst it may make the consumer feel better, without evidence it is likely not an environmentally beneficial choice. Misleading terms Look out for the following: ● The terms ‘oxo-biodegradable’ (or ‘oxo-degradable’), ‘degradable’, ‘photodegradable’ 'landfill degradable', or 'omnidegradable' are used to lead us into believing a ‘biodegradable plastic’ product is a better alternative. These are simply plastics with chemical additives that promote limited degradation under certain conditions with no evidence they will biodegrade. ● ‘Recyclable’ is also often used as a term to make customers feel good about their purchases, when that product may, in reality, have limited recyclability. Don't be fooled by the use of the 'recycling symbol' - this symbol is strictly an identifier of the type of plastic and does not address recycled content or recyclability of an item. Unless you know that a product can 100% be recycled in your local recycling facility, do not believe the recycling claims on the packaging. Environmental imagery Imagery and branding is also used to portray meaning without actually defining a product as an environmentally sound choice. It is commonplace to see green and brown colours, as well as images of leaves and trees to make consumers feel good. Marketers know that most people will simply fill in the blanks and make assumptions that the product is better. Of course, many legitimate products use this imagery as well, making it confusing. Don’t be fooled by imagery, look for composting certifications. Key tips to see through greenwashing What to look for: Certified compostable products. Asking for a particular brand is not enough as very few brands stock an entire certified compostable range. FSC certified paper or board products, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guarantees that forest products come from responsibly managed sources. What to avoid: Anything that is oxo-biodegradable, photodegradable, omnidegradable or degradable etc. Anything claiming to be biodegradable without also being certified compostable. Relying on imagery for choices. Making assumptions - e.g. 'made from plants' does not mean compostable. What to be wary of: Vague and unsubstantiated terms. Products promoted as being recyclable without the availability of collection and processing facilities that can recycle that item. Ambiguous claims - e.g. 17% less plastic. Products claiming biodegradability and/or compostability without third-party certifications. Sneaky plastics - not all plastic is obvious. Look for hidden lining, glues etc. One way to check for a hidden lining is do the rip test – slowly tear it and you will see the plastic lining - see how in our video below). [1] [2]


    This recommended council plastic-free event motion has been produced following our assessment of other council motions to raise a plastic free events policy. A downloadable version can be found as part of the Boomerang Alliance 'Plastic Free Council and Community Event Guidelines'. The <>, Noting with concern the significant issue that single-use plastics pose to the general and marine environments, and the burden and high cost they represent to the waste management sector, Recognising that Council is committed to reducing the quantity of single- use plastics procured and used within the local community and to lead by example, Also recognising that Council is committed to operating under sustainable practices; protecting land, marine and costal environments; reducing waste and increasing resource recovery, and promoting local, ethical and sustainable products, Council will introduce a Plastic Free Guide for all Council events, and: (options - pick one and reword as required): effective immediately, ban the use of single-use plastics in all Council run events. The ban affords existing facilities and vendors a 6-month grace period to source alternatives to single-use plastics. Council will facilitate the provision of information on sourcing alternatives to events operating, or seeking to operate, within the Council area. OR phase out the use of single-use plastics in all Council run events by <>. Council will ensure that any single-use plastics still in use due to existing contracts or necessity have a defined end date for their use. Council will facilitate the provision of information on sourcing alternatives to events operating, or seeking to operate, within the Council area. ban the use of single-use plastics at all events held on Council land, or sponsored by Council by <>. Events held after this date will be required to adhere to a Plastic Free Events Guide as a condition of obtaining a license. The scope, definitions and guideline requirements within the Plastic Free Events Guide will be drafted by Council officers, to be passed at a future meeting of Council. require that single-use plastics are replaced with reusable or 100% compostable items, or, if captured in a closed loop system, items eligible under a container refund scheme (if applicable), and that balloons and polystyrene packaging are not used, sold or distributed. undertake an education campaign about the impacts of single-use plastics and the alternatives to these items, with particular emphasis on promoting BYO strategies. work to provide information to event organisers on sourcing alternatives to single-use plastics and encourage events within the community to adopt these strategies. Note: It is recommended that councils define their definition of single-use plastics in this context and include a current list (which can be easily updated) in their regulations. In some cases there is currently not a viable alternative to the use of a single-use plastic product. The following products (where not covered by a state ban) are reasonable to include in this definition as they contain readily sourced, viable alternatives; water bottles, food ware (cutlery, cups, plates, bowls), straws, coffee cups/lids, takeaway containers, and plastic bags. We strongly urge councils to consider banning balloons or including balloons in this definition as well. Download this guide HERE


    Plastic water bottles are a big litter item. Despite being recyclable, most end up in rubbish dumps or in the environment, where they persist and cause untold damage to our marine environment and wildlife. And with one million plastic bottles sold every minute globally, we understand why many people are looking for more sustainable options. To be clear, we don't think there is a need for disposable bottles at all in Australia. After all, Australia has some of the best tap water in the world. The best thing we can recommend is reusable water bottles and cafes offering refills to customers (see our related guide on how to set up a refill station). And for table water, glasses or a glass bottle that can be refilled with an on-tap water system is a great option. However, we understand that disposable options are still a way of life. Many cafes switch to glass or aluminium options, but these are not as plastic-free as they seem. If you're going to go single-use anyway, this guide is to help you find your best alternative disposable options, starting with the most problematic alternatives and concluding with the most sustainable. Carton and boxed water Carton or boxed water is a commonly found item, it's prevalence is linked to the effective ‘green’ marketing associated with the product. These products lead consumers and business owners to believe that boxed water is a better choice to its plastic counterpart. While boxed water does have lower transportation costs (which is an environmental consideration), let us tell you why we think it's not the best option: Boxed water is a composite material made of paper, plastic, aluminium and sometimes even other materials. Because of this, it is a challenge to recycle. The materials need to be separated out which often makes it uneconomical to recycle. These products usually have a plastic lid. Bioplastic bottles For other food ware where reusable is not an option, we recommend 100% compostable products (including compostable bioplastic if a more sustainable alternative is not available). However, in the case of water bottles, just because the bottle has components of bioplastic in it does not mean it is 100% compostable or a good alternative to plastic bottles. Here's why: If littered, it will act like plastic. Bioplastic is only compostable in a commercial facility. These bottles often have a plastic lid and neck ring that is not compostable. Compostable bioplastic is not recyclable in kerbside recycling or through the container refund scheme. If it ends up there it will contaminate recycling streams Aluminium cans Aluminium cans are becoming increasingly popular, with major manufacturers looking to offer it as an alternative to plastic. However, it's not as plastic free as it seems - what most people don’t realise is that aluminium cans have an inner plastic (epoxy) lining to ensure the can doesn’t corrode, plus an outer epoxy coating to protect the paint. This effectively entombs the aluminium and, as with all plastic, if it is littered it persists for hundreds of years, jeopardising our marine environment. The good thing about aluminium cans is that they can be recycled indefinitely, unlike plastic bottles where the quality of the recycled materials degrade over time. For these reasons, we only endorse aluminium cans in a closed-loop situation, where cans will be captured for recycling. Glass bottles When it comes to plastic-free options for selling water, glass is the best alternative. It is more sustainable, inert and will not cause damage to the marine environment if it escapes into our oceans. Just be aware that many water bottles, even glass, have hidden plastics. One brand may carry a variety of options, so it is important to check. This picture shows five bottles and two have plastic sealing rings on the lid. When looking for glass options, here is how to avoid these hidden plastics and choose better options: ● Avoid bottles with a plastic lid or plastic sealing ring. Instead look for a metal twist lid (like a beer bottle), or a metal screw lid with a metal sealing ring. ● Avoid bottles that are shrink wrapped in plastic or fully wrapped in plastic stickers. Instead look for bottles that are not fully wrapped, with a (preferably) paper labelling that can easily be removed during recycling. While we endorse glass as the best plastic-free option, the downside is that glass is heavier to transport, and can have a higher carbon footprint through its lifetime than other options. If it is from non-recycled materials, it can also have environmental impacts in the sourcing of its base materials. If you’re considering glass, here are some additional questions to ask: Is it sourced from recycled materials? How far is the transportation to get it to you? Importing from overseas carries a huge environmental footprint! Is there a local business you can support? Reusable bottles We have to say it again... the best thing we can recommend is selling/using reusable water bottles and offering/utilising refills. Cafes can sell branded reusable water bottles and even have them pre-filled in the fridge, ready to go. If you are a business happy to offer refills, you can join our watermap, which provides information to the public on where they can find water refill points (the ‘google maps’ of water). As the map gains traction, it will point people in the direction of you to refill their bottle, and you never know what they might purchase in addition!


    By Toby Hutcheon, Boomerang Alliance Campaigns Manager This article is adapted from the Boomerang Alliance 'Plastic Free Council and Community Event Guidelines' For the LGAQ endorsed version for Qld councils, click HERE. THE PROBLEM WITH PLASTICS AT EVENTS Plastic pollution generated from public events can be a major cause of environmental degradation, species decline and potential human health impacts. Plastic litter is an eyesore and contaminates our open and public places, negating the positive experience of these events. Single-use, disposable plastics are a waste of resources and do not align with the values of sustainable events. Plastics derived from non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and event organisers have a responsibility to protect our environment. Plastics persist in landfill and the environment and pose a problem for future generations, and event organisers have a responsibility to reduce the amount of waste generated. PLASTIC FREE EVENT PRINCIPLES Commitment to inform and educate stakeholders and the public about your plastic-free event. Identify clear expectations of stallholders to avoid the use of identified single-use plastic items at council-run events. Clearly identify single-use plastic items that should be avoided or replaced and outline recommended alternative products. These should either be reusable or 100% compostable (compliant with australian composting standards). Manage the collection of discarded materials through a three-bin system (recycle, organics, waste). Where these services do not exist, use a two-bin system (recycle and waste). Container refund schemes (if available) provide an incentive for a separate drink container collection. Enhance the reputation of the event by ensuring the site is free from litter. Minimise contamination and reduce waste collection costs by keeping disposal options together and providing clear signage that addresses and advises on avoiding items being put in the wrong bin. Where possible, arrange volunteers to monitor bins and provide assistance and guidance to event patrons. Ensure all waste streams are serviced appropriately. Investigate commercial composting, container refund collection and re-use service opportunities. Monitor and evaluate the impact of plastic-free events through efficient data collection to measure performance and practices at events. Promote council policies to other events and encourage their adoption by including council requirements for events on council land and for council-funded events to be plastic free. MANAGING A PLASTIC-FREE EVENT Key elements: Informed and aware staff and volunteers, vendors and suppliers who understand the policies and can educate the community. Supply chain control of disposable plastic items and packaging used or supplied on site. Establish a consistent and easy to use bin system for discarded items. Plan for the collection of recyclable or compostable materials and include a site clean-up protocol in the event plan. Involve the event team in continuous improvement to further reduce waste and increase recyclable and compostable materials. Guidelines in Practice: As a first step, focus on eliminating the six single-use plastic items that are most often littered and found in the waste stream. These are water bottles, coffee cups and lids, straws, food ware (cups, plates, cutlery etc.), takeaway containers, and plastic bags. Do not allow the release of helium-filled balloons. A practical way to avoid them would be to prohibit their use and recommend alternative decorative items or commemorative activities. All food and drink vendors should be required to provide only reusable or 100% compostable food ware (cutlery, plates, containers, cups etc) to the public. Include specific requirements in any contracts or arrangements with vendors. Vendors should be informed of policies and why they have been adopted. This should also apply to franchise vendors. Compostable food ware should meet either the as 4736 (commercial compost standard) or the as 5810 (home compost standard). These are australian standards recommended by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO). Products are readily available from suppliers. Provide adequate, clearly signed water bubblers or portable water stations and encourage the use of refillable water bottles. These can avoid plastic water bottles being used. Consider accessibility by children and those with mobility aids. Consider using refillable drinkware, where possible. A refillable system for alcohol and soft drinks involves the public purchasing (or providing a deposit) and keeping a cup for the event. No drinks can be served without a refillable cup. These can be replaced each time if desired. Refillable containers could be branded and used repeatedly at council events. Where refillables are not provided, events should provide drinks in either aluminium cans, glass bottles or certified compostable containers (subject to local regulations for container use at events). Promote the event as plastic-free. Educate staff, volunteers, vendors and suppliers about the plastic-free agenda. Promotional materials provided by event organisers, vendors, performers etc. Should be reusable, recyclable or compostable for consistency. A collection service for beverage containers should be provided if a container refund scheme is available. We suggest council arrange for a local not-for-profit group to receive the refund. Arrange for waste collectors to transport waste to appropriate facilities. Note that in some regions, where a commercial composter is not available, it will not be possible to compost. It is still advisable to follow a plastic free practice as this demonstrates a commitment to reducing plastic pollution in the environment if the event generates litter. This also prepares stallholders and the public for when established in future. Event organisers should ensure their office and back of house practices meet the above requirements and avoid the use of single-use plastics to the best of their ability. This should include any on-site facilities (i.e. toilets) or crowd controls (i.e. plastic film to cover fencing). We recommend the engagement of an on-site waste manager, particularly for larger events or where litter and waste management may be challenging. Material collection stations should focus on a three-bin system for compost, recycling and waste, subject to composting services being available. Clear signage is essential, pictures are most useful. To ensure correct use it is advisable to place volunteers at bin stations to show the correct usage and ensure effective and timely collection of full bins. Data collection is essential to monitor performance and improve services. It is recommended that data is kept on quantities of materials sent for recycling, composting and waste. Your waste collectors should be able to provide this data. Monitoring compliance by vendors is important too. Surveys of public understanding will improve collection services, signage and public education programs. QUICK GUIDE Seven Steps to a Plastic-Free Event Advertise and promote the event as plastic-free. Require all vendors to supply only reusable or 100% compostable food ware (Australian standard or equivalent) to their customers at the event (plates, cups, utensils, containers etc.). Do not allow helium balloons to be used or released. Provide a water station or water refill points on site for refillable bottles. Provide recycling, composting (where applicable) and waste bins on site. Good and clear signage is essential. Ideally provide bin monitors to explain how the system works. Arrange for your waste service to transport collected materials to appropriate facilities and provide waste data. Review data and management arrangements on the plastic-free outcomes and set new improved requirements for future events.

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