Choose to Reuse at the University of Melbourne  

Published: 26 May 2022
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The University of Melbourne is leading the reuse revolution through its Choose to Reuse Program. The program ensures that all onsite food retailers have the infrastructure they need to provide a reusable-dish service as an alternative to single-use plastics like cutlery, plates and bowls. The site also has a commercial dishwashing service to support businesses to adopt the reuse system.

In its first 6 months of operation, the reusable system washed over 250,000 bowls, plates, cutlery, and mugs and waste to landfill decreased by 30%. In total, this program has diverted over 400,000 items from going to landfill.

Choose to Reuse Masterclass

Sustainability Victoria recently partnered with the University of Melbourne to host Choose to Reuse, a masterclass for other universities, food hall operators and permanent market operators to learn how to adopt a reusable system in preparation for the Victorian Government’s Single-use plastics ban.

Single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates, drink-stirrers, expanded polystyrene food and drink containers, and cotton bud sticks will be banned from sale or supply in Victoria from 1 February 2023.

Sue Hopkins, Manager Environmental Sustainability, Melbourne University, explained how the University is rising to the challenge of reducing single-use plastics through measures such as setting sustainability targets, engaging businesses, negotiating contracts, training staff and putting up good signage.

In addition to the environmental benefits, other benefits for businesses include reduced purchasing costs, meeting expectations of students and University staff, and an improved experience for both customers and businesses.

To learn more about the University of Melbourne’s program, visit Choose to Reuse.

The University of Melbourne highlighted that through this program it was evident that the community cares about the environment and people want to do the right thing.

If you missed the Masterclass, watch the video to learn how the University of Melbourne implemented the Choose to Reuse Program, including the challenges, benefits, and their key learnings.

Q&A with Sue Hopkins

Sue Hopkins is the Manager Environmental Sustainability at Melbourne University and she provided answers to questions regarding the Choose to Reuse program.

Reuse Pilots Fund

Sustainability Victoria is providing co-funding to a limited number of pilots for reuse systems in different settings across Victoria.

Funding details

  • Target sectors include a permanent market, shopping centre food hall, university campus food hall or similar settings.
  • Funded projects would need to be in operation by March 2023.
  • Organisations would need to be willing to co-fund the pilot.
  • Funding would be available for implementation costs (not for the on-going management of the system).

If you would like to discuss the pilot program further, please contact our grants team via email to grants.enquiries@sustainability.vic.gov.au or phone +61 3 8656 6757.