Organisations and businesses share real-world experiences and learnings for reuse solutions.
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Learn how organisations and businesses are leading the reuse revolution. These masterclasses are designed to share real-world experiences and learnings for reuse solutions.
The University of Melbourne has minimised single-use plastic from its food courts and is providing a reusable plates, cups, and cutlery service to reduce single-use plastics.
This video shows a PowerPoint Presentation, with speakers appearing via video to the side of the screen.
Jean Young, Team Leader Plastics, Sustainability Victoria
Sue Hopkins, Sustainability Manager, The University of Melbourne
Emilia Bisogni, Sustainability Officer, The University of Melbourne
[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Welcome to the Choose to Reuse Masterclass, we will be starting shortly, ‘Sustainability Victoria’]
[The visuals during this webinar are of a PowerPoint Presentation being played on screen, with speakers appearing via video to the side of the screen]
Hello and welcome everyone online to the choose to reuse masterclass. We are really pleased to have you here. My name is Jean Young, and I am from sustainability Victoria, and I am the team leader of our plastics program which supports businesses impacted by the single use plastic phase outs.
I would like to commence today's session with an acknowledgement of country. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the many lands upon which we are meeting today and pay my respects to the elders past present and emerging. Today I am located on the lands of the Kulin Nation, and I acknowledge that we live and work on the lands of the world's oldest and most sustainable culture. I acknowledge the deep connection to earth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their invaluable contributions to our understanding of climate change and the environment.
Today I will provide a brief overview of the single use plastic policy, SV's business engagement activities and then we will hear from the University of Melbourne on how they are leading the reuse revolution. There will be an opportunity for questions following their presentation and I will provide some details on a reuse pilot program that we have under development.
Many of you will be aware of the problem of single use plastics. They make up about 1/3 of the volume of Victoria's litter and cause harm to our environment. Many single use plastic items are used for a very short time and represent a poor use of our resources. They are difficult and economically unviable to recycle. They can often end up in our recycling systems leading to contamination. In February 2021, the Victorian government committed to banning single use plastic straws, plates, cutlery, drink stirrers, expanded polystyrene food and drink containers and cotton bud sticks from the 1st of February 2023. This is a deliverable of the circular economy policy recycling Victoria.
It is proposed that the ban will apply to conventional oxo-degradable and certified compostable plastic items. The Victorian Government now wants to hear from you, so you can now have your say on the draft regulations to enact the ban and the regulatory impact statement that outlines the approach to banning the single use plastic items. There is a frequently asked questions document included on the Engaged Vic website where there is more information on the draft regulations and the regulatory impact statement. You are encouraged to provide feedback via a survey on the Engaged Vic website. Or via a written submission and feedback is open until Sunday the 15th of May 2022.
Sustainability Victoria's role in delivering and supporting the delivery of the ban is to engage small to medium businesses who currently use single use plastics or SUPs to provide a service to their customers. This is predominantly those in the hospitality and food service industries. And our engagement will focus on providing information to support businesses to look at waste avoidance and reuse solutions as well as support DELWP, the Department of Environment Land, Water Planning and communicating the SUP policy once it is finalized later this year. The program will also host master classes targeted different sectors such as today, fund reuse pilots and undertake localized direct engagement including door to door doorknocking. Today is an opportunity to kick start the conversation around reuse models and what these might look like. From today, we hope you will consider how your organization or business might implement a reusable system to reduce single use plastics or single use items in preparation for the ban. When looking at the circular economy, we want food serving businesses to think about where they sit in the circular economy and how they can drive reuse over single use.
But today's session is really all about learning from the University of Melbourne. We have time allocated for questions and answers after the presentation. I am very pleased to introduce Sue Hopkins. Sue is a sustainability professional across tertiary education, government and not for profit organisations across the UK and Australia with an educational background in environmental science, ecology and conservation. Sue joined the University of Melbourne in 2016. In her current role as Sustainability manager, she is responsible for addressing the operational targets of the university's sustainability plan as well as community engagement. Sue sits on the Board of Directors at Australasian campuses towards Sustainability (ACTS), which is a registered not for profit organisation as of 2021.Thank you, Sue!
Thank you so much, Jean. That was a really kind introduction and welcome to everybody on the line today. My name is Sue Hopkins. As Jean said, I am the Sustainability manager at the University of Melbourne, and I'm absolutely delighted to be here.
Thank you so much to Jean and the team and to Sustainability Victoria for reaching out to us and partner with us today to hopefully share our story with you and inspire you to do some great things in the reuse space. A couple of things. I have also got two of my colleagues on the line. Unfortunately, due to the way that the system setup, you probably cannot see them, but I have got Emilia Bisogni and Ravina Grace who also sit in the Melbourne University team. I could not do, we couldn't do what we do here at Melbourne without them. This is a team effort on all our parts. We are very much working towards a circular economy approach in the way that we deal with waste at the University of Melbourne now and certainly respiring to zero waste to landfill like I know a lot of my sector colleagues are doing the same.
But before we get started, I would like to acknowledge that I am on the lands of the Wurundjeri people from Kulin Nation who have been custodian to this land for thousands of years and acknowledge and pay respects their elders past and present. And I would also like to acknowledge their lands or the Aboriginal lands on which you are all on today as it is a virtual event. So, let's get into it then, shall we? Choose to reuse. What do we mean by choose to reuse at the university of Melbourne? Well, it is pretty simple. It is what it says.
It is a free, reusable dish service offered at the University of Melbourne, and we have essentially gone back to basics. We allow, we run a service which allows staff students and any visitors to purchase food and drinks from our retailers using reusable tableware. With this simple idea obviously, to reduce waste to landfill. As you can see, some great pictures. And those are actually members of the team. You can see some great pictures of us, essentially, it is what the services is. We at the University of Melbourne, I am really delighted to say have a sustainability Framework and we did make a public commitment as a university back in 2016 when we developed our Sustainability Charter, which basically outlined our principles and our values as to the direction we wanted at the university to go in. This is an enduring document. We developed our first sustainability plan in 2017 and that ran to 2020 and we are just about to launch our new plan from 2022 to 2030.
And that base includes all our targets and our priority actions over the coming eight years. We also then report on those targets publicly. So, there is a transparency there and essentially, we are held accountable. So, are we essentially doing what we set out to do. We do have a good overarching strategy at the university, and we are working towards it. On that note, in our original sustainability plan, we had just one target around waste that was to reduce waste to landfill to 20 kilos per person by 2020. Now I am delighted to say that we did actually achieve that, but we did not achieve on our own. We did achieve it because of COVID essentially. Because our campuses were closed, so in 2020 we got down to 13.2 kilos per person and in 2021 thirteen 13.1 kilos per person. We very much just hit that target. Now, we probably would not have done that if it had not been for COVID.
In the new plan, we have got a target to reduce waste and landfill to 10 kilos of person by 2025 and then working towards 0 waste landfill by 2030. We have developed a circular economy target. At the university, our targets are about improving the circularity of materials passing through the university. I think that is essentially the one that we really do need to work towards now. It is not just a case of reducing waste to landfill. It is about looking at all the material flows through the university. The aim of that really is to ensure that we keep resources in circulation for longer and to try and combat that throw-away society that we now live in. And that is where the choose to reuse campaign was born. We did not actually start from scratch. We did have an existing service at the University of Melbourne. It started in 2013 and was set up by a group of students who were obviously very concerned about waste then and it was called washed against waste and it was offered at our Union House. And it was just very simple. It just has some plates and some bowls, and they were distributed throughout the student union.
And then we had a commercial dishwasher down in the basement and they were washed. Now, unfortunately as things happen generally across the campus, it was started by some really engaging students, but then over time no students left and the basically the program went into a big decline without any real direction and management of that program. By the time I got onto campus in 2016, there were some odd posters lying around, some lonely plates dotted around the dining room. But it did not have that invigorating feel that it used to have.
Two things happened at the same time. The manager of Union House approached me to say this program still running, but really nobody' is engaging with it. Nobody was using it. If we were going to keep doing this, we really needed to renew some interest in the service. And at the same time, the director of Space Management also contacted me to say, look, we really need to breathe some life back into Union House. We were in the process of developing on new student precinct, which are going to talk to you in a bit later, but that was going to be our new big brand-new precinct. But it was not going be coming online for another three years. So, we really wanted to sort of breath some life back into Union House. We decided to revamp the choose to reuse program. And that was a way we could obviously tackle our targets at the same time. That was approved, which was fantastic.
We had another thing that happened at that time as well is we were getting a lot of feedback through various channels from staff and students directly. Basically, they were telling us that the amount of waste they were seeing in Union House was quite frankly disgraceful. There was a lot of all sorts of different disposable items. Bins were overflowing. There were all sorts of different packaging being used. They basically reached out to us to say university of Melbourne really should be doing something about this. All those three things came together and aligned. In our initial conversations, we did have a chat about; do we down the compostable disposable route? Or do we just switch out the disposable items that we're using and just have a sort of better form of disposable? But we decided, no, that we really wanted to go back to the basics and really make much longer lasting change and really try and delve deep into people's behaviours.
I certainly remember when I was at university, I am going probably back about 25 years. But we had a food court that had plates and knives and forks and that kind of stuff. And I remember thinking, well, if I had that experience only 20 years ago, why can't we bring that experience back? I am delighted to say that in 2019, we had one of the old tenancies moved out. We redesigned and retrofitted that dishwasher hub, and we launched the program in 2019. We also decided that we are going to use that as a pilot for online and I am delighted to say has literally just come online in the beginning of 2022. You can see the lead in time that we had here, and I was involved in design conversations of the new student precinct back in 2018 all the way through to the current day. It does take a long time, obviously to design a building. But we sort of got in there from the start. I am delighted to say that is now we are now piloting it in that at the New Student Precinct as well.
So essentially why were we doing this? One of the biggest drivers for us was basically expectation from our staff and students. We received a lot of complaints and concerned emails. Our sustainability survey which we do every two years, really drew our attention. Students really wanted the University of Melbourne to do something about what they can visually see as an issue and something that they can personally take responsibility for as well. We also decided that it was going to improve the campus dining experience. How many of us have gone to have lunch somewhere and you have a paper plate or plastic plate, and you might have a little plastic fork and it doesn't grip your food properly? We really wanted to improve that campus experience. People come here to have a great time, but they also expect a certain level of service. We also wanted to implement circularity and to fit in with what Jean very much was talking about in reducing our single use and waste to landfill.
We knew that single use ban was coming. We very much looked at to the future and knew it was coming. We wanted to be on the front foot of which is absolutely fantastic, that ban is coming in. We wanted to create real, lasting behaviour change. Yes, we could have swapped things out for disposables and that is great if that is the only option. But we were lucky that there was another option for us, and we wanted to make sure we embrace that. And like I said, we also want to establish a reputation as being a leader in this space if we can be and really create that experience for our students. I do not think that I have to really preach to any of you guys but as we all know, plastic or single use disposable plastics really what is the cost of our convenience? A lot of the items that we were giving out in Union House, they are used for 20 minutes. Somebody picks up their meals, sits down at a table and chair provided in the dining hall, eats their dinner, and then throws it in the bin on the way out. And often they will throw that item in the wrong bin. We were generating a lot of waste when really, we did not need to do that. And as you can see some of these pictures, these are all dining, food court or retailer waste that comes from the food that we eat. We really want to see that reduced. So that was some of our motivation.
We really are fighting a war on waste. And recycling as we know is not the solution. Yes, obviously if we can, if we can generate items to go and recycle and that is part of the solution, but it is not the solution and we wanted to do something different at the University of Melbourne. We set up in Union House like I say back in 2019. This picture on the right is a picture of our dining court once it had been sort of revamped. Now with the agreement of all University of Melbourne stakeholders, we agree to a budget of 100,000. Now obviously, you know that some people could say that is a lot of money, which obviously it is. Have a saying that when you looked at the costs that go into purchasing disposables, when you look at the costs for the waste services, and if you look at the future, because let us agree, it's not all about money. And, then I think that is a small price to pay for the scheme that we have set up. We retrofitted existing tenancy space, which is great. We collaborated with all the retailers. We purchased reusable crockery and then obviously we launched the campaign.
Two things to think about here. When you look at that picture, there were two elements about here- we had to get the front of house change in place, so that is the infrastructure for the diners in the food court, signage to encourage people to know where they could pick up items. And we have placed all the bin signages to see and we made it very specific to the food that was actually going out in the food court. And then obviously getting people to use the service. And then there was obviously the back of house change. Obviously, the infrastructure of the dishwashing, processes of the cleaners and ensuring that everything was washed and returned in a timely manner etcetera. We had a series as you can see of pick up and drop off stations.
This is our dishwasher hub, but this was the revamped tenancy that we had. As you can see, we put a what we hope is a lovely sort of infographic on the side because this is actually quite a busy walk through. We did not want to hide the dishwasher hub away. We wanted people to actually understand that when they picked up a plate from the front end of the when they were getting their food that they could actually see that there was a consequence to that, and they could see the dishwashing going on. We purposely had the windows and the glass door, which is open on this picture, but we purposely had them so you could see through them so people could look in and see what was going on. The dishwasher ended up being along with the signage. I think the dishwasher hub retrofit was about 75,000. So originally estimated to be about 50,000, but there were a few issues with the services. Signage was about 15,000 and then purchase of crockery cutlery around 20,000. I do want to be up front with those costs, but obviously we saw it as very much a fantastic investment. At this time, we had- two plate sizes, 3 bowl sizes, two mug sizes and cutlery, a range of cutlery and we did go out to our tenants and ask what items they would like. We did have a bit of leftover stock from the old washed against waste program which we did use initially. But we did go and get some new items and we just wanted it to look plain and be durable, so we just went with the white crockery.
As you can see, there was a vast difference in the types of composition that these materials are made up of. Some are plastic, some are paper, some are PLA, some were paperboard with PLA lining. A lot of people were confused. People would take their food away, as we all know, and then they often did not know what to do with the item. A lot of it just ended up in landfill, even though a lot of that stuff could be recycled. So that was the aim was to get rid of a lot of that. In the process of setting up in Union House, we did upgrade all our signage. It was it was time for an upgrade anyways, so it was very timely. But we did give the space, basically a big nice visual overhaul. Previously on the front of those bins we just had, I think they were just three size posters. They were laminated. No one really saw them. No one engaged with them, and everyone basically ignored them. We had full size posters put on the front of the bins to make it more visually engaging. And we specifically link the pictures on the front of there to the products that were going out. So that there was a connection between the food that they were buying. Rather than just be a generic infographic, it was linked to the items that were coming through the food court and then the other thing we did was we put some engaging messaging on the side of the bins.
As you can see, we consume food not waste. Disposable containers used for 20 minutes but are here for a lifetime. And I do not know where the Darcy is, but our comms officer is on the line, but she came up with all that communication, which is fabulous. We then had stickers on the front of every tenancy telling them. Obviously, they could pick up the items and then we had our drop off stations here next to the bins where they could scrape their plates. Prior to this, we did not have a three bins system in Union House. So, all our food waste was essentially going into landfill bin. So, what this also gave us the ability to do is to collect food waste in the buckets. As you can see the picture on the left-hand side and then take that down to our food waste processor which is down in the basement. All our retailers were taken there, organics waste down to the food waste processor, but our front of house waste was not being collected. So, this then enabled us to not only collect our crockery and cutlery to be washed, but also collect our food organics to go back into the food waste processor. So at least we were diverting some organic waste from landfill. Because as we know our organics waste is one of the biggest components of our waste on campus. We did a survey back at the end of 2019 and obviously food was the biggest element of our waste bins. I think it was sitting at around 20 to 25%.
Getting our retailers on board, I have to say this was the biggest challenge. And it was the biggest challenge because a lot of the retailers had been practicing or having a service in Union has for a long time. This was a change for them, and we originally went round, we talked to everyone individually. And I remember when we sort of gave out the plates and bowls, we sort of gave them out and people kind of looked at them. But then they kind of put them away in a cupboard. And every time we go round and look to see where the plates and bowls where you could not see them. So yes, the success really stopped the program because we had a clean drop off station in the middle of the precinct that anyone walking past could pick up a plate. But the retailers were not giving out our plates. We had one or two keen retailers who really kind of got it. But most of them did not! But that really changed when we actually had a whole of precinct meeting. All the retailers were invited, everyone came along. I, the director of Space management, a few other people stood up and explained why we were doing this, and it was almost like the penny dropped. Because they could also see that you know what- it was not just asking them to make a change, we were asking everyone to make a change. They then felt collectively part of something bigger. And they also understood that this was a precinct wide approach. And it was not just them that were being asked to make those changes. Provided all those items, provided signage, and then the one thing we did do is we did set up a sustainability competition. Over the course of the next six months and the aim was then that we would have a bit of a vote at the end of the year, who was the most sustainable retailer. And they could basically win a couple of weeks free rent, which obviously is very favourable to our retailers.
That did not end up happening because that's exactly when COVID struck us down. But the intent was obviously there, and it was a game changer for us in engaging our retailers. From an engagement perspective, we also got on board a large number of volunteers. We run a student volunteering program here at the University of Melbourne. It was really easy to be able to add this particular activity onto the list of things that we offer to them. We had dedicated student volunteers who then provide their time and then they get they get a leader in sustainability award for it or and it meant that we engage as many staff and students as possible. We had prizes that give away, we had free coffee and it really helped raise engagement of the scheme and the volunteers themselves say they love taking part in it, which was wonderful. And what we did is that the start of each semester we had a cohort of students come in probably for two or three weeks, the start of each semester because we also understand that students change over. Generally, students come and go on campus. So, we really need to keep those communications up. So, the initial challenges that we had like I said, probably the biggest challenge we had was the buy-in from the food and beverage tenancies.
But like I say, once we provided support to them and have meetings etcetera, they very much came on board. We still do have challenge that and we understand that because a lot of our food and beverage tenants they have their own processes and procedures. But I do remember chatting to one retailer when we were looking at the new student precinct. And he looked at me and he said, ‘ohhh, my gosh, I could save thousands and thousands of dollars by engaging in this program’. So, there are real benefits to the retailers as well. That is what we want to see. And I have taken from customers like I said, those eager students that would see the dishes and stuff like that was easy. That is why we had the volunteers to make sure that there was good engagement. Some of the initial operational challenges like we ran out of items. We had to make sure that we refine our processes to make sure that we were cleaning them and getting back to the tenants quickly. Obviously, some tenants use more than others depending on the food offering they had. High attrition rates for some items. Now I must say, we were worried about some items but plates, crockery, not an issue. What does run out, though, is cutlery. And especially forks. Forks walk. And they walk a lot. So, the only thing I would say is - have a little bit of money in the budget to replenish your forks regularly. Probably the other thing was the cleaning stuff. There is a bit of uncertainty. But again, we added those processes as we kind of got going, which was fabulous.
OK! So, success. This is just some internal dashboards that we have here. But as you will see, the very faint pink line at the bottom as our 2018 mapping. We used to wash 1000 items a month if that it just kind of poodles along. You would see the cleaners wandered down to the basement, the big commercial dishwasher and wash about five items. But as you can see where we launched in July 2019, it absolutely skyrocketed. We washed around about 266,000 items by the end of the year. The sort of more solid red line there. You will see we started 2020 on a high. It was absolutely fantastic by the time we locked down on the 17th of March, we had washed almost 70,000 items. And as you would see then it completely plateaued because we did not open the service up again for 2020. With 2021 you will see we kind of got back up to speed towards may and there has been uncertainty. But I shall see then it basically plateaued again because we locked down.
And the blue line is us now. We have relaunched again, which is great. We are on the up, which is obviously the best place for us to be. Pretty obvious as the plates increased, the waste decreased. The more items we washed and the more our waste landfill came down which was fantastic to see because that was the correlation that we wanted and needed. Because that was obviously why we were doing it. And this is over a yearly basis as you will see. In 2013, obviously we had some great engagement and that kind of cooled off 2018. And as you will see, from 2019 are waste to landfill did decrease. That obviously was in correlation with COVID as well! We cannot claim all that success, but we can certainly claim a part of that and that is just the waste from our Union House.
So, what did we learn? We learned that we delivered a program that the community really cares about. We got a lot of very positive feedback. We went from having feedback that really did lead us feeling really frustrated and upset with people saying what a disgrace our food courts were to a lot of very positive feedback. Obviously, the retailers save costs on disposal packaging. We are facilitating infrastructure here for the community and we want people to do the right thing. And like I say, provide a better dining experience for all. We realized that retailers needed incentive to buy in. They needed constant communication and that was great. Certainly, for our new student precinct, there is a lot going on there. And you what, we learned that we could do it.
There were so many people that said to me, know what this is going to be hard, it is going to cost a lot. And what are you doing? Why don't you just get disposables? I have had even consultants just say, well, it is not going to work. Why don't you just go down the composting route? But you know what? Throughout all that, we decided to do it. And this kick started the first of reuse initiatives for us to support a more circular campus. Most importantly, it enabled us to have a successful pilot in time for our new student precinct. So, it was not easy, but it was definitely worth it.
So going on to our new student precinct, there are basically 6 brand new or retrofitted tenancies. This is a picture of the second building to open and this is our student pavilion which has got a dedicated food hall. Theoretically you should have about 20 retail tenancies. We are going to claim to be single use plastic free precinct which is fantastic. Because alongside the reuse we also drafted the University of Melbourne’s single use disposable standard. Which meant that the new tenants, new retail coming online or on board could not use any plastic-based products. No PLA based product. They all had to use the products approved by the university to ensure that they could be dealt with through our waste management services.
The biggest challenge was the dishwasher hub. It was in the original design then it was designed out. There was designed in, then it was designed out. So, I have to say for the new student precinct, it has been a journey. But I am delighted to say that it has now come back in. So, like I say, it got designed in, then it got designed out because this is a precinct and how are the crockery and cutlery going to flow across the precinct etcetera. And that was the original issue. But we lobbied hard the OPS (operations) team lobbied hard to make sure that it could come back in. The original solution was that OK, if we could not have a central dishwasher hub, then what we do is we ensure that all tenancies had the space for a commercial dishwasher and therefore they would do their own washing. At the time, it was a solution. But it was not the best solution that we could come up with. But it was definitely a solution we thought, OK, we'll go with that. We made sure that commercial dishwasher was designed into all retail spaces and that was a condition of the lease. Within this two- or three-years period, we also worked very hard with our leasing team, legal, etcetera, etcetera to ensure that we captured all this and more sustainability KPIs in our tenancy and lease agreements, which has been fantastic.
There were many, many conversations about how we were going to deal with this. I think it is probably the thing I have talked about most over the last three years, and we obviously had some key stakeholders on board. I have not made a typo here. I have purposely left the dishwasher hub as XXX because one of the things that happened is a couple of months ago, we decided that we were going to assign the dishwasher back in. So, we did. And so that is currently in. That is currently being retrofitted or installed at this precise moment in time. The retailers have dishwashing capabilities in their retail space, but we also have what we are going to call the overflow dishwasher hub and that will also service events and that kind of stuff as well. We also purchased lots of trolleys and we also purchased more crockery and cutlery. So, this time we went bigger. Our stakeholders from our pilot program told us that we needed more stuff. Now we have got two plate sizes, 3 bowl sizes. We have got three cup sizes: Espresso, latte & cappuccino. Cutlery, that also includes soup spoons, teaspoons, and reusable chopsticks. And, condiment balls, rice bowls, food trays, and indoor and outdoor trolleys. The only thing we did not service is straws. Because to be honest, they are too hard to clean. Too fiddly to clean in the speed that we need to get things back out and run in. However, we have stated that there are no plastic straws. They must be paper which can go in our third bin system.
So really, why did we do this again? At the University of when we had quite a unique and rare opportunity here because we were developing a new building from scratch, and we were coming in at a time where we knew what our aspirations for the future were going to be. It was hard because there was a lot of use and throw culture. Some of the people sort of who were very heavily involved in this project did not necessarily know and they had different priorities. There were lot of challenges in that respect. But again, we did it because we had a unique opportunity. How can you develop a program in your old student union develop, a brand-new building and then not bring along that behaviour change with it? We could not open a new precinct with disposable items and go back to three years ago. It had to come with us.
We are again wanted to create real behaviour change. I did have some conversations that people along the way who again said it is not going to work. It is going to be too hard. You might as well just switch to disposables. I had somebody tell me that. They have done surveys. Students want disposables. Well, sometimes you have to be the parents and sometimes you have to set up a system to enable them. I am sure my kids, given the opportunity of broccoli over sweets, would obviously choose sweets. We needed to make sure that we created some real behaviour change and we need to install infrastructure to support long term changes. Plus, there was certainly the expectation from our community that we were not going to go back on what we had already started.
So, what did we do? We used the successes of Union House and the student expectation as leverage, sustainability clauses into all the leasing agreements. This has been an ongoing process for 2-3 years. Designing dishwasher space in all tenancies. What I would say is, if you are in a similar situation and you want to go down this road and you do not have the ability to have a central dishwasher hub, then retrofitting if there is space. Most tenancies will have sinks and that kind of stuff. Being able to retrofit some dishwashing facilities into those tenancies might be the way for you. Although I know I have had conversations with friends and colleagues in the past who say they the biggest hurdle probably to this kind of program is having the ability to dishwash. But if you are able to look at things afresh, then I would definitely say, it is an absolute no brainer to support a circular economy and go down the reuse route. There is no comparison between continually turning over materials regardless, if there were disposable items going into compost. And yes, those are great if there are no other alternatives. But there is no comparison to ensuring we keep our products in their original state for as long as humanly possible. Reuse wins out in the end, every time.
The other thing we did was, no individual branding in these tenancies. All that reusable crockery and cutlery, we did not allow tenancies to brand it themselves. We wanted to demonstrate that everybody was equal and that everyone was in this together. And the other big thing that I would say is, along with all the challenges that we had, we kept talking as if it was going to happen. I cannot tell you the number of times I almost went home in tears when somebody told me yet again that your pipe dream of reuse is not going to happen. But I kept just coming back and back and saying yes, it is. And I genuinely thank that due to everybody that not just me, there was a great big group of us that we just persevered and kept going.
These are some pictures of our new student precinct. You would see obviously the dirty dishes there. You would see our drop off trolleys, which are outside. They have been retrofitted by some of our guys on campus, and I think they look fabulous for a little organics' buckets there on the side and there is some of our internal trolleys that the cleaners go around to pick up the items. The way it works is the cleaners will basically provide busing service. They take dirty plates back to the to the tenants and then they also take other dirty dishes once the dishwasher hub is open back to the dishwasher hub as well. The other new things we implemented in the student precinct that we did not necessarily introduce in the in the Union House, was the introduced three bin system. We now have the inclusion of organic bins front of house. And those fronts of house organics will be processed off site because obviously we realized we could not 100% get rid of disposables. That was not actually realistic, but because of the standard that we brought in, it just means that any disposals that are brought in are compostable, and they will then go off with our food wasted process off-site. However, our back of house organics are still going to be processed by a food waste processor. All the organic waste coming out of our tenancies will go into that food waste processor. We do still have the ability for people to put their organics and their cutlery in there as well. So, we can obviously take some of those organics back behind the scenes as well.
The other big thing in the contracts that we did is all waste will be weighed. Tenants will be charged the waste management fee, which will be calculated how much landfill they produce. Instead of having a set fee for waste management, it is going to be the first year where they see go into measure and weigh all the waste. We are in a good position because obviously we are developing our ways to have at the same time, but it is simply a set of scales. The cleaners will take the waste, they will allocate the waste per tenancy in a simple system just with a sharpie pen. And written on the tenancy, number one or whatever, that will be weighed and then that will be that will be accounted back to the tenants. So hopefully again that incentivized the tenants to reuse and reduce as much possible. One thing that I would say is what this really did was, we basically kick started a reuse revolution on campus and that was also primarily as a part of the development of the new targets within the sustainability plans. So, the other thing that we did sort of the beginning of this year was, we brought in the events where you service before COVID. But we ramped that and as you can see the picture at the top. We have actually bought these items and they are not melamine. They look like melamine, but they are sort of rice husk. They are used now for all our food trucks and our outdoor markets. It is fabulous and wonderful to see them being used. We have also banned plastic disposable drink bottles on campus now.
Again, I had quite a few people say to me, ‘my gosh, how have you done that?’ Well, we basically just wrote it into the contracts. And we basically said to all retailers, you cannot provide disposables. You cannot provide takeaway beverages in disposable bottles. They have to be Aluminium, glass, or paperboard. I do appreciate there are issues with paper board as well but let us deal with one thing at a time. And obviously we know that the container deposit scheme is coming soon as well. So that will support us. That is written into all our contracts. Not just our contracts but also into all our vending machines across campus as well. We have acted very timely. We were just renewing our vending machine contract across campus. And all plastic drink bottles are banned in there as well. And we have got a road map with our vending machine company as well to reduce all single use plastic packaging on campus over a number of years period. That also goes for the supermarket that is going to be coming onto campus. We have already had a meeting with them, and they will be phasing out all single use plastics over a set period of time.
The other thing we have done is we have implemented Green Caffeen and that is also thanks to some of our colleagues who I wonder if they are on the line. But a number of our sector-based colleagues in tertiary education have gone down this route which is great. We have got to reuse vending machines. So now you can purchase water bottles, keep cups and straws, cutlery, everything out of our vending machines. Because one of the issues was, if you want them to go reuse, how can they buy it they forgotten it? Now we have provided reuse access to on campus. We have got our new equipment and new service. And this year, we are going to launch an E-waste program across campus as well, which is great. We are looking at our electrical equipment.
Just the final top tips; set your expectations! Make sure that you are in communication with all your food and beverage tenancies. If you can, make sure that this is spread across all of them. So that there is a default offering for all your customers. You will see there the picture on the left at one of our lovely cleaning staff collecting some plates. They are outside, and then obviously some of our friends using it. Retailers and cleaners are the crucial link in this chain. I could go into so much more detail and everything we have done, and certainly I am very open to for anyone who wants to get in contact with us and talk to us about that. But the retailers in the cleaners are the crucial link. Continual feedback, continually talking to your retail tenancies and continually making improvements is where we have sort of bought into this. Stakeholder engagement is crucial.
Would we do it again? Hell yes, we do it again! What I would say is please do not give up. Sometimes it can feel like you are fighting an uphill battle and sometimes the challenges can feel too big. But really, the sense of achievement and what we are creating here at the university is fantastic. I really would say that keep pushing and acting as if it is going to happen. I would say, my team were very lucky. We had our director of Space Management, our leasing managers, our facilities managers were all keen to get on board. And I think I do not know about other people on this call, but I have seen a significant shift in attitude around sustainability and around waste and circular economy etcetera over the last a few years. So, I would say that the time is right to have these conversations. So many people want to do the right thing. They want to get involved, but they just either do not know how or it is not in their remit. They are going to look to you as either a sustainability professional, as a retailer, as somebody who manages a food court, whatever it may be, they are going to look to you for that leadership and that drive to get this happen. What I would say is keep pushing, keep acting. There are people out there in the sector now doing it.
Please do give it a go. Collaboration is the key. The other thing I would say trial and error. It is all trial and error. When look back to what we pushed out in 2019 and we really were starting from, it was just a bunch of us, basically, on how we going to do this. But it worked out and we just plugged away and it was brilliant. And the data speaks for itself. This program works, our wasteful landfill has gone down. The positive engagement we are getting back and just remember it is not all about the money. Yes, it might seem a lot, but really the significant amount of money that are spent doing all sorts of things, your money really is probably one year's worth of disposable packaging that is out there in the community and really the community needs strong leadership. We are drowning in waste. We really need to make real, long-lasting change. It was not easy, but it is worth it. Thank you everyone so much for your time everybody. I hope I have not gone too over. Happy to take any questions that anyone has. Thank you again.
Thank you, Sue for that fantastic overview of what you have done and what you have achieved at the University of Melbourne. It is very inspiring and very fantastic to see the work that you guys are leading in the reuse space. To kick off while we wait to see if any questions do come through the email, I am interested to know how successful your program is and what the impact of it is? Just curious to find out how does the University of Melbourne go about actually collating the data around diversion? Is that on the retailers or? Keen to understand how that works?
We started off with a fairly crude system if you like. As cleaners are stacking our dishwashers, they have pen and paper and they write down how many plates, mugs, cutlery go through that particular cycle. It is a very simple system, but it works, and it is consistent across the organisation. I did actually have somebody the other day to me, we can stop doing that now can't we? I had to say, we could not stop doing that. We are going to continue to do that. In the new student precinct, we it differently. But it will be probably similar as our cleaners are still involved. They are consistent members of staff, and they will record plates as they get washed and cutlery as well.
Great, thank you. Another question is just around the ongoing costs. I guess to manage these programs, has it been significantly more expensive for the University of Melbourne to deliver this program?
No. I suppose the biggest cost were initial setup and the costs of the equipment. We retrofitted a lot of trolleys and used the stuff we already had. But really the biggest ongoing cost is the cleaning staff who clean the crockery and cutlery. There are a number of ways we manage these costs. We absorb some of the costs, but also that is factored back into the tenancy’s agreements. Because obviously the tenants that themselves and as retailers, they are obviously saving money on disposable items and so there is a there is an element of savings there. But it is a shared cost model between us all. Now, it has been absorbed into our operations. When you do a cost analysis, if you think about landfill levies going up, so there is going to be a significant increase in landfill. If you look at it that way, the amount of money we are going to save on a landfill levy and you save obviously on buying their disposable items in the 1st place, it really is a cost-effective way of doing it.
So, I have just got some questions coming through. The first one was around the banning of bottled water. How was that received? And if there was a replacement, what was it?
Yes, we did have a couple of retailers contact us and say how are we going to do this. The big question that we also got was ‘is our PET classified as sustainable?’ And ‘can I still have plastic bottles because basically coke have told me that our PPT is recycled?’ We said no. No plastic water bottles at all. Most retailers I have to say were fantastic. They could see why we were doing this. We also allowed people, to phase out withing the timeframe. We asked them to swp out with alternatives. If there was an alternative, either a can or a glass or whatever else, they could go with that. If there is no alternative, then we would look at this together over certain time period. We worked with them. My team pulled together a number of alternatives, which we provided to the retailers. And I must admit they all got on board. I even had a tenant come up to me on campus only a couple of days ago, chatting to me about the changes that have been made. There was some pushback initially. But when you stand firm and they can also see that everybody else on campus is doing the same thing, they get on board. This is all retailers and all vending machines. We provided the reuse options. We have got lots of water bottles on campus and we have the reuse vending machine. We provided enough alternatives for people to basically get a glass of water or can of coke, whatever it may be.
Thank you. There was another question around the additional operating budget for the cleaners to take on the dishwashing role, which you might have answered. But I am also following on from that, how do you manage the customers who do want to take away food to their desk or outside the buildings?
We have basically said that take away items includes the whole of the campus. We are happy for somebody to go to one of our retailers, pick up a plate and bring it back to their office or their classroom or whatever it is. When we did the pilot in Union House, we realized that was going to happen. I had a couple of people in the library called me one day and they said ‘Sue, we've got those plates and cups in the library we have. They all come from?’ And that is when we realized that not only will we encouraging people to take them away, but people were taking them away. We basically put out communications to the community to say that when we say take away that take away meant the whole precinct. We know the target hotspots and we will go around and have some collection bins in those places. We probably are going to encounter some of those challenges in the new student precinct because I think we have only launched in the last couple of days. But we do need to talk to people about what takeaway means, and we will monitor that closely. And we will see this sort of level of reuse compared to takeaway. Again, we will do surveys, we will talk to our retails, we will talk to our community to remind them that actually take away means the whole of the campus. The only thing I will say is I am not sure if we will ever stop people disappearing with our forks. We finally figured out why they walk with our forks. And it is because, we also have a lot of reheat stations on campus. So, people were bringing their own food. They would bring in their Tupperware container and they would go and sit down, and they would pick up a fork from the food court, and then they would pop the fork in their container, and they would walk away. They would not realize they are doing it. And that is where we realize what was happening is people did not mean to do it. They were picking up a fork and then just forgetting that they had brought it from home. But that is OK. If I have to replace a couple of forks, never mind.
Are we able to share our tender specifications or the sustainability clauses in our leasing agreements with people? I am sure, we could.
I am sure there is some way that we can do that. Not a problem. Just email us and we will get back to you. We would love to work and collaborate with all our lovely sector colleagues out there.
Great. We got a few more questions coming through. We will try and get through as many as we can. What were some of the key points? Did we use our business case? Or was it the saving for the retailers?
I would say the biggest incentive, or the biggest argument was that the students expected it. They had an expectation from their customers. I just pulled together all the feedbacks we got and the complaints that we got. Those were probably the biggest drivers. The other driver was the dining experience. At that time at the university, we were really looking at how we could improve the campus experience. Not just in this space, but in lots of other spaces as well. My team sits within our campus management and that was a big question that was going around. Yes, obviously there was very much about hitting our target and our sustainment plan. If you don't have that central target, it does make it a bit trickier. Because every time I had a conversation with somebody, we could say that we had a target to hit. So, we had to do this, and this was the best way to do it. One of the tenants said to me that they can spend up to $100,000 a year on disposable packaging. That is just one tenancy. That cost is significant. Including all those arguments such as, it’s what our students expect, better dine in experience, better campus experience, hitting our targets etc brought it together. And we are also showing that University of Melbourne is doing its bit for sustainability with this global challenge. We kind of weaved it all together.
Thanks. And these are two questions around COVID. Was there anything additional we needed to do after COVID to meet health requirements? Do we need any additional signage to reassure people about using the reusables?
Yes. This was obviously a big pain point during COVID, and we had many conversations COVID around as soon as COVID hit. We thought that we had to go to disposables. But during COVID, there was no government mandate to say you could not use reusables. In fact, I made many phone calls to the Department of Health and various other organisations to ask if we had to legally stop using reusable. And they said there were no regulations around reusable tableware. There was no mandate. There was nothing to say that by washing a cup, it wasn't COVID safe. Obviously, we closed the campus. But there was nothing to say that we couldn't use our reusable service. We made sure that our communications highlighted the hygiene and COVID safety measure. We said that these items are go through a commercial dishwasher. They are sanitized and they are up to health standards. Just like any restaurant you go to across the globe.
Perfect. Do you see other industries or precincts where this idea would be suited? And are there opportunities to take this idea further than outside just universities?
Absolutely. When I went to university, we had a refractory in the UK that had crockery and cutlery. If you go to IKEA now, they use reusable plates and cutlery in their food court. We did a number of site visits when we were setting up originally. We went to Emporium in here in Melbourne. They have reusable crockery and cutlery. This is not a new idea. In fact, it is completely and utterly going back to basics. We have changed the narrative of retail of the last 20 years due to convenience. I would say that this particular reusable scheme is so scalable. You could start with one retailer, you could have a whole precinct, you could start with one item, you could start with one retailer. You could scale it up or you could scale it down. It is completely and utterly transferable. There is no doubt about it. Every step of the way.
And the next one - did we conduct any research with people with disabilities while we were setting up the program?
I must be brutally honest. We did not at the beginning, but we have done that since. Certainly, when we were setting up our reusable cup scheme, we had spoken to people with disabilities about that. We discussed what they would like to see, and we did ensure that so our drop off stations were all DDA compliance. We made sure that they right height and for wheelchair users. Because we are using a trolley-based system, so it has to be suitable. We want to make this absolutely suitable for absolutely everybody.
Perfect. What are the percentage of the decrease in the retailers' disposable container purchases compared to before the program?
The only stats I can give you is that our waste to landfill went down by 30% in our Union House prior to COVID shutdown. One thing I do remember chatting to one of our retailers during that period and he told me that his waste had reduced by at least 50 to 60%. He said that he would carry probably 6 bin bags. And now he claimed that had been cutting half. He was now only taking about 3 bin bags at a time. So that just goes to show that as one of the retailers experienced.
I do have quite a few more questions here and I know that there were some people who had multiple questions in their email, but we did save the last 10 minutes to go back to Jean to talk about some potential funding. I do promise that I will get back to your emails this week. I will pass over to Jean for the conclusion.
What is next? For us, we are aiming to provide funding for limited number of pilots of reuse systems in the following sectors across Victoria. So, we are looking at similar to what the University of Melbourne has just presented. Permanent markets, shopping centres, food Halls at university campus or a similar setting. The aim of the pilot program is to understand interest in this space and gather knowledge on the feasibility for businesses looking to implement reusable systems. The outcomes of these pilots would also feed into the design of future circular economy programs as well. And funded projects would need to be in operation by March 2023, which, may not align with everyone's requirements of approvals, etcetera.
We are accepting the applications for the pilot program. We are keen to talk to any organizations that are currently using single use plastic items that are included in the ban and would be interested in piloting a reuse system or discussing this opportunity further. Following this master class, we will send a follow up email with more information regarding the pilots. If you are interested, we would be really keen for you to reach out to me directly. That basically was a wrap up. I would like to thank the University of Melbourne for their fantastic presentation and providing a fantastic model of what is possible. Obviously, there are a lot of challenges. But as Sue has kind of highlighted, there are also benefits for consumers, businesses, and organizations. This webinar will be recorded. We will also send that through. Feel free to share with any of your other relevant networks that were not able to attend.
Thank you all and bye for now!
[End of transcript]
For more information, read the news story that includes questions and answers with Sue Hopkins.
This masterclass showcased how to implement a reusable system at events. Presenters from B-Alternative, Green My Plate and Green Music Australia explained set-up processes and challenges, and gave helpful tips on making events successful.
Reuse Solutions for Events
Tuesday, 12 July 2022
[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Welcome to the Reuse solutions for events – Masterclass’, ‘We will be starting shortly ….’]
[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]
Okay. So hi everyone. Welcome to Reuse Solutions for Events Masterclass by Sustainability Victoria. My name is Brij Parmar and I’m also joined by my team leader Jane Young and we are running Single Use Plastics Business Engagement Program. We’re absolutely thrilled to have so much interest in this space and we’re delighted to see some familiar faces and looking forward to making new connections.
So I’d like to begin today’s session with an acknowledgment of the country. So I acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands upon which I am based today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. I also pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the lands from which you are joining us today. I acknowledge that we live and work on the lands of the world’s oldest and most sustainable culture. I acknowledge the deep connection to the Earth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their invaluable contributions to our understanding of climate change and the environment.
So today I’ll provide a brief overview of the single use plastic policy, SV’s business engagement activities and then we will hear from our presenters on how they’re implementing reuse solutions at various events. Today we have wonderful speakers from the events and festival industries. Our first presenters are Jason Rahilly and James McLennan from B-Alternative, then we have Jess Fleet and Will Overman from Green My Plate, followed by Berish Bilander from Green Music Australia.
We have time allocated for questions and answers at the end. If you have any questions after all three presentations please either type in via the Chat or you can unmute and ask during the Q&A session.
So many of you are aware of the problem with single use plastics. The plastic pollution harms our health, wildlife and environment. To help stop plastic pollution the Victorian Government is going to ban single use plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, expanded polystyrene food and drink containers and cotton bud sticks from February 2023. The ban will also apply to degradable and compostable plastic items such as bioplastics. This is a deliverable of the circular economy policy.
As a part of this process we recently asked Victorians for their views on the draft rule for the ban. Over 1,600 Victorians responded with overwhelming support for the action like this ban to reduce plastic pollution. The Government is now considering feedback received during the public consultation with the regulation to be finalised in September this year. We will be sharing all these links at the end of the webinar for the best experience.
Sustainability Victoria is running a program that is supporting food service businesses transition away from single use plastic items. This will include providing business focused resources masterclasses like this one and grants as well as localised business engagement activities across Victoria. But through this session it’s all about learning how to make events sustainable especially considering the upcoming ban. It would be an understatement to say that we love our events and festivals in Australia. They’re a key component of developing a sense of community and pride, generating economic growth and giving cities identity. Making events sustainable has become essential for achieving sustainable development goals. It can minimise all potential negative impacts on the environment and have great benefits on the communities and all involved.
We have a few speakers from the industries today who are going to present their work and share some insight in this sector. So let me just stop sharing and introduce you to the speakers.
So our first presenters are Jason Rahilly and James McLennan from B-Alternative. Jason is a founder and Director and James McLennan is a General Manager. They both have extensive experience in the business sustainability sector. They have worked with small to medium businesses, not for profits, councils, corporate and Government bodies in certain activities through facilitation, inspiration, community engagement, experience and curiosity. Welcome B‑Alternative team.
And thanks everyone who’s there. James are you mute?
Yeah. Thanks mate.
Thanks Brij. Great to be here today. And Jason and I obviously are in different locations in Victoria today so we will be trying to throw to you and not cut each other off.
So before I start I would like to certainly acknowledge the traditional lands that I’m on on Gadubanud country and the Gunditjmara people who have been custodians of this land for thousands of years. And I would hope that in some of the topics we’re talking about today we are actually talking about the preservation and rehabilitation and regeneration of the land as well in which they did for so many thousands of years.
Yeah. And I’ll echo that sentiment here on Boonwurrung country. And I guess our custodian respect is really deeply ingrained within our business model and our social enterprise. So I don’t think anyone in the colonised world is doing as well as the custodians but we’re doing our best to get back to what they value in the land as well.
I guess a lot of what we’re going to touch on today is our model that is echoing those sentiments. And I think one thing that I hope that everyone can sort of gravitate towards during this little short snippet is how easy this model is and making the environmental change for festivals and events a really easy transition. If people can find the environment easy they’re all going to take it on in their day to day lives. So we’ve always found as Brij was pointing out before single use plastic is a really simple, low hanging fruit to get people engaged with the environment and we’re going to touch on how we can utilise events in that space. And again echoing what Brij said around events are a really good stabilising point to sort of increase the education into the community. So I’ll leave it over to James for the next little section and we look forward to speaking to you all.
Yeah. Awesome. So we’ll start off with a little bit about B-Alternative and what we do and then sort of move in to our event specifically and then finish off with a few case studies of events we’ve worked with and some of the really key success stories we’ve had in the past.
So we are now a social enterprise. We’ve always called ourselves or referred to ourselves as a social enterprise but in the last few months we have become a certified social enterprise. And essentially we are working with anyone, organisations, businesses, schools, whoever it may be to implement more regenerative practices and reduce their impacts on the environment.
Brij if you can flick to the next slide. So here in a nutshell is what we’re doing with whoever it may be we work with whether it be an event or a school. We diversified greatly through COVID in what we’re doing with events sort of going down the drain. So we basically took what we were doing with events from the waste management and the consultation with event organisers and pretty much picked that up and took that to any organisation supplying packaging, compostable packaging at that, or even better, reusable models as well. But then looking around the education side of that and how we can actually educate for change and then through marketing the education as well and really have an increased impact with their audience as well.
So in terms of our work with events we’ve been in this space now for coming up sort of seven years and we’ve had some pretty profound impacts with events. A lot of our work is done pre‑event. We meet with the event organisers and a lot of the engagement is done in this time as well. So we look at what events they’ve done in the past, the wins they’ve had, the impacts they’ve had, and then we look at all areas of the event of what’s coming in to the event, what’s being used, the punters, the demographic of them. So we get a really good snapshot of what’s been happening in the past and how we can actually change that moving forward.
So even down to – there’s a few images on the screen – what water is being used. So we have an elimination of plastic altogether, so plastic water bottles. We supply canned water instead of plastic. Down to the toilet paper used on site. So we make sure that the most ethical environmentally friendly toilet paper is sort of purchased through us as well. And by controlling that we’re actually mitigating the risk of contamination in our streams but also minimising dramatically the general waste which is on the day too.
We’re also working with contractors. We’re doing punter sort of education pre the event and we’re working with the food vendors closely as well to make sure that they’re on board, they know the drill and they’re aware of the practices we’re going to be implementing on the day too.
So come event day we’re all set up. Everyone’s sort of in the best place possible and we can start rolling out the actual systems on the day as well which I’ll throw to Jase to talk about.
Yeah. Thanks mate. Appreciate that. I think if we can go back a slide sorry Brij. Just talking about the event as you can see there we’ve created our own reusable – so we use them resource recovery stations rather than bin stations. Again it’s about changing that vibe, that conversation around waste. As soon as someone uses the term waste in their mouth basically that’s how we behave. So we’re really trying to encourage people to see everything as a resource. And we’ve found those bins or those resource recovery stations in particular quite engaging. So I think when the event comes along as James just said before we’re using it as a small school basically. If we get a patron number – we’ve got some examples coming up where we’ve got a patron number of say 20,000 people. If there’s 20,000 people in a community that’s 100,000 strong and we can get 20,000 people to change their behaviour in a positive way and feel good about it all it takes is them to talk to five other people and you’ve got a whole community that’s completely spun around their mentality around how they behave in their community. So we’re really seeing events as a really good catalyst for that and a really good opportunity for that.
So obviously we’ve got images of recycling and our biggest one is definitely reusables. So that’s probably the next slide there Brij if you can bro.
Thanks. So this is a really, really simple step by step process that we’ve brought in to events and we’ve seen again other groups doing amazing stuff with this space as well. It is a collaborative effort. It’s going to take everyone to get involved with this. Our products are made from risk husk. So they are a biproduct of the rice industry in the world I guess. So that’s all getting used as a reusable system. It’s all completely food safe and all the rest of it. Meets everything it needs to do and then if it does get broken – I mean let’s be honest, it’s a party so things do get broken at parties – we can just throw it in the compost and it does get eaten by worms and micro‑organisms.
So it’s a little bit more costly but it’s definitely worth it in the long run in our belief. But I guess it really echoes our party with the planet model. So as you can see in this model here, the reusable model, for patrons it’s a really simple step by step process and for the event itself it’s a really simple step by step process. I think what we’re really calling on for people especially in these sorts of groups and the courage that Sustainability Victoria has got to take these sort of models is we’re asking people to have the courage to actually challenge these new systems and go let’s take it on rather than thinking it’s too hard. And that’s what excites us. So we’ll just go to the next slide if you can Brij.
Just before you go in to some post-event stuff as well a few key things which we’ve found are big problems with events as well. Jase mentioned about the resource recovery stations. So we’ve found problems in the past of actually having bins on site. As soon as people see a bin it doesn’t matter what colour the lid is they see it as a bin and they sort of just cognitively go for it and put anything in. So by removing those bins that’s how we started finding the greatest success of decontaminating which meant less work for our staff back of house.
But also little things like knowing our contractors, knowing who we’re getting to remove the waste and knowing what skips are on site but also by removing co-mingled recycling. Even if we know a contractor is doing combing recycling and they are sorting we still prefer to go a glass, a stream of aluminium, a stream of metals and cardboard and so forth. That way it’s actually a lot cleaner and we can guarantee it’s getting recycled as well.
And we see that reflecting in the economics of it as well. The festivals and the events will save money because if someone says it’s co-mingled and they’re getting charged the same as landfill it becomes pretty transparent as to where it’s actually going. So once we see reduced rates in clean streams like glass and aluminium and that’s reflected back to the event then we know it’s actually being done properly as well as the fact that we follow them to be honest.
But you can also see here in the post-event. Now this is a non-camping event. With our events we also do campground education and that’s a huge part of reducing landfill at an event and that’s a really, really successful model as well. But this is a non-camping event and you can see the difference from this festival in particular that had no engagement from an external environmental group in 2018. 2019 they went from zero to hero and went we just want to go reusable, do whatever it takes, and you can see the drastic change in that result right there. The resource recovery station was a collaboration with Bellarine Catchment Network at the time. So we both collaborated on that resource recovery station. If we can grab the next slide Brij that would be great.
Thanks mate. This is another example of a bigger festival. This is 27,000 people strong. Queenscliff Music Festival. Again the first year we worked with them we went to fully compostable and that was a really great turnaround from their landfill reduction. So we provided all the compostable packaging and things like that and made sure it was all completely legitimate and made sure it went to the right facility. And then you can see here that we went to reusable. And you’ll note there that there’s actually a huge percentage of glass. Because this was done on a tonnage ratio. Glass is obviously heavier than others. And the bars were using a lot of glass so that’s why we had such a big result there. But if you look around you can see general waste there with basically nothing, cardboard wasn’t much, but probably the next biggest thing was organics again based on weight. So when you go reusable you still get good weight and tonnage in your organics because it is heavy food matter.
So again another really positive result that did influence into the town and we had conversations with the council after that event because they wanted to look at evolving that township off the back of that event. If we can get the next slide Brij.
And this is just another example. So this is a group we’ve been working with for a long time now, one of our more senior groups. And you can see that beautiful trend and a lot of that trend is actually reflective of the campground education. So they haven’t gone reusable yet but this is our compostable model incorporated with our campground education model. And again that stat, I mean it’s pretty clear how effective it can be. And these aren’t huge investments by these events to bring this sort of challenge in and they’re getting the results from it. And the other thing to remember is as well that what we’ve seen from patron engagement has always been really positive. Be mindful with any group no matter who you’re working with you’re always going to get one or two people out of 100 that are going to complain. I really urge people in this movement not to give the squeaky wheel the grease. Ignore it. Focus on the 98 people that do care about the positive impact you guys have had and you’ll continue to see these sorts of stats across the board.
I’ll flick it over to you James.
Yeah thanks Brij. If you can flick to the slides.
So essentially we have our two main models, the compostable which is all the compostable packaging and then the reusable which is all the reusable items. Reusable is our preferred and we really try and push that with events so much so that we’ve actually reinvented how that works financially and it’s now going to cost the events pretty much zero depending on the number. But we’ve actually worked out a way we can actually get it fully funded and happy to chat further about that.
We are looking at growing this into the future and getting more stock so we can actually do larger festivals than what we have say with Queenscliff and we’re also looking at grant opportunities as well to get a fully electric truck that is our wash station as well. So an upgrade of what we’re currently using. So some exciting things on the horizon for us with that. And basically Jase as the Director and founder of B-Alternative set this up because he saw a need for this and I think it’s the power of basically seeing the change that you want to see in the world. And we really want to work and evolve what we’re doing and what other groups are doing like this as well which you’ll hear from as well next. And we’re happy to answer any questions later on too.
And we are excited to hear from the other groups because this is a collaboration. It’s going to take everyone no matter what your belief is. Partying with the planet not against it is something we’ve always really hinged ourselves on and we believe in that pretty strongly. And I guess remembering that all the causes in the world and all the things that we’re inspired by in the world whether it be traditional owners’ respect or women’s rights or all these things that are really, really important, none of them can happen without a planet. So I guess with everyone out there who’s inspired to help the planet we are just as inspired to work with you and make sure that we can all achieve the best things possible. And really grateful to Sustainability Victoria for putting this on because I think it’s definitely required. And Brij you’ve been awesome to deal with mate so really grateful for that.
Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s such a great insight into especially the community engagement and education. Great insight. Thank you so much Jason and James. So moving on to our next presenters.
Our next presenters are Jess Fleet and Will Overman from Green My Plate. They are co‑founders of Green My Plate. They have extensive experience in the event management sector and working on the ethos of make dishes not waste they bring their knowledge and passion of sustainability to each project leaving long lasting impact. So welcome Green My Plate team.
Thanks Brij. Can you see our presentation? You’re all good?
You can see everything?
Cool. So thanks Brij for having us and thanks to James and Jason for their presentation. We’re coming to you today from Byron Bay. So we’re not in Victoria at the moment. We’re working up here at Splendour. So I’d like to begin today by acknowledging the Arakwal people of the Minjungbal nation, traditional custodians of the land on which we present to you for today. And I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
So we are Green My Plate. I’m Will. This is Jess. And Ryan is our third partner who’s not here today. We’re the three co-founders. We started in 2019 having worked in events for over ten years and we were finding very little solution to waste minimisation within the industry. Little did we know our event management experience would prove extremely beneficial to the rollout of GMP’s success.
Green My Plate is a sustainable service aimed at eliminating single use food packaging from events. We supply reusable plates and bowls to food vendors and then wash and recirculate. Our closed loop system is a benefit to events, conferences, exhibitions, cafeterias, anywhere where there’s food served. And single use plates and bowls are removed from the site leaving a cleaner footprint and less waste to clean as well as diverting waste from landfill.
Hi guys. I’m Jess. So our mission. We are more than just dishes. We care deeply for our planet so have combined our passion for sustainability and event management to build a closed loop system with a meaningful impact. Our ethos is make dishes not waste creating much needed environmental awareness and mindfulness around single use waste.
With all of us co-founders being outdoor enthusiasts as well the inspiration behind Green My Plate started as a passion project turned full time gig for Will and I. Our low waste lifestyle also brings lots of learnings and knowledge to the business.
So here we have a quote that really resonated with us that we wanted to share with you. It’s just an important reminder for us and hopefully you guys as well of our mission. So I’ll just read it out to you. So ‘There are too many pressures on our natural systems and something has to give. We are intimately connected with nature whether we like it or not. If we don’t take care of nature we can’t take care of ourselves. And as we hurdle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet we need to go into this future armed with nature on our side’. So that quote there is from Inger Andersen, the UN Environmental Chief. So again just something that resonated with us and no doubt with you all here it will with you as well.
So here we’ve got our closed loop system. Like Will said we provide reusables to events. So as you heard our mission, the main focus is sustainability and a solution to the ongoing problem of single use waste. Part of the solution is tailoring our service to the different variation of events. Another important focus of ours is the operational aspect of the service ensuring everything is running smoothly, food vendors are taken care of, Green My Plate bins are being monitored and of course doing this without compromising the customer experience. So it’s pretty simple. We drop the plates off to the food vendors. You then order your noodles or your burger, whatever food it is, and it is served up on a plate or bowl. You then return that plate or bowl into one of our Green My Plate bins which we’ll show you shortly and we then wash and reuse. And that’s the closed loop system there.
So I’m actually going to show you next a short video of our closed loop system in action at the Aus Open earlier this year. Hopefully our internet connection is strong enough that it doesn’t bounce around. I’m just going to hit play for ten seconds.
[START VIDEO PLAYBACK]
[END VIDEO PLAYBACK]
So the products we actually have in stock are a large plate, a small plate, a large bowl and a small bowl. We’ll be moving into cups soon. So we kept this product range just to give events different offerings. We’ve found that events are pretty specific with what they want before the event but once they sort of see it, feel it, touch it and they sort of adapt to what we have – so with that product range we can cater to all different types of food and different food vendors.
Are the plates safe to have onsite at an event? Absolutely they are. The plates are made of bamboo fibre and corn starch making them lightweight and event safe unlike your standard crockery at home. They’re also very durable. I have used one as a frisbee before. I wouldn’t recommend it but they don’t break and get the festival tick of approval.
So on our plate you’ll see it says ‘Please return me. I’m not rubbish’. This is important messaging and it just reinforces to people that are confused that maybe haven’t seen the system before as to what to do with it. So we’ve found as well as soon as that’s covered with paper or anything it actually reduces the effectiveness of it. So once someone finishes the food on their plate, they see that message, they know it’s going back to where it needs to.
So how do event attendees return the plates? I’m just going to pause that video for a second. So you’re staring at what we hope to be the new normal, the pink bin. So this here is actually one of my favourite photos because as you can see inside the bin is just full of plates and bowls. So that’s obviously what we want to see more of at events is reusables over single use. And we do find if you’ve got a red bin, a red general waste bin next to it there’s not much in there. So it’s great to see the reusables getting full. And I’ll just press play on this video here so you can see it being returned.
And we chose pink as well because there’s nothing else like it. You can’t have it with the councils these days. They’ve got all those different coloured bins. So a bright pink bin, it stands out, it’s got messaging and people hopefully in the future will know that everything goes in the pink bin.
So do you provide dishwashing equipment? With every event being different we tailor the system to your event. For example some events may have a kitchen on site with a commercial dishwasher. Others may not. If you don’t have the equipment we need to get the job done. So we can source this for you. We will work with you to create the best sustainable, operational and stress free outcome for the duration of your event. So we use pass through dishwashers, under bench dishwashers, sinks and hot water and we can do it depending on your event in one dishwasher, three dishwashers. We can get the job done. So it’s easily scalable.
And we also provide staff as well. So our staff come in their bright green t-shirts and they’re easily identifiable as well. So again we can tailor the staff to your budget and your needs.
So what else is included in the Green My Plate service? So we’re not all just plates and bowls. We come with pre-event project management. So we work with the event management team to implement the GMP reusable system into their waste management plan. We also assist with pre, during and post marketing and education on the Green My Plate system and we also liaise with food vendors, educating food vendors on the reusable system and arranging the products they choose to use.
We also supply not only reusable plates and bowls but all the sustainable tools to assist with washup for example coconut scrubs, dishwashing liquid, tea towels and cleaning products.
We also provide the Green My Plate brand of bin covers so the pink bin covers you saw before so that the plates can be returned. So those bin covers as well are for 240 litres bins. And then we also provide post-event reporting on how many plates you save from landfill. So we actually count each individual plate and bowl so then we’ve got the data at the end of the event and we can also utilise it as a marketing tool that you see here. So this here is an Instagram tile with the final number of plates saved from landfill at the Big Vegan Market which we serviced earlier this year. So it’s an awesome tool to congratulate the efforts of event attendees for returning their plate and again it’s awesome for your marketing as well.
It also helps us set targets for following years as well. Knowing that say this year we saved 8,000 at that event hopefully next year we can double it or get more. So it’s a good way to set targets.
In terms of cost it’s very different per event. So we tailor the event based on your needs, your size, how many vendors, the time. So some examples. Some events might need staff. They might have volunteers which is something as well we do. We can leave volunteers which helps lower cost. And some may have kitchens and equipment. So we can tailor an event based on what you need.
So what events have we worked on? So that’s a good shot of the AO which we were lucky enough to be part of this year. So we were located in the newly curated Beach House. The GMP plates and bowls serviced three food vendors washing a total of 13,078 plates over the two week event. Our involvement this year was a pilot program with the aim to grow and take the initiative site wide in coming years. So it was good after two years of lockdowns and our plates being in hibernation to get out and do that pilot at the AO. So it was sort of a big coming out for us which was great.
So we were also part of Rising this year which was held at the iconic Sydney Myer Music Bowl. This three week event washed and reused over 53,284 plates, bowls and cups. By implementing our reusables Rising diverted 12.5 tonnes of what could have been single use food packaging from landfill.
So key learnings from these two events was that the system thrives in a somewhat enclosed area to simplify the return. It pays to have GMP staff either located at bin stations or roaming around the tables educating people. So there’s still a lot of education to be done in this space and it is new to a lot of people. So our staff communicated that with people and they were really receptive of it. So that’s something that we learnt. We need to push more and we need events to sort of invest in that as well to make the solution a lot easier to implement.
So you need to make sure investment is made in the right equipment to maximise our productivity but also maximise the space. One thing for these larger events is the amount of footprint we need to store plates. So at the AO we had a small amount of space but we maximised what we did with it which was a massive thing for us. So the biggest thing we learnt is if the food vendors are happy everyone’s happy and that way if the food vendor’s happy the patron gets their food on the plate on time. So yeah we just need to make sure they’re stocked up. And that people are really receptive to it. People are learning. People want to engage. And I think like the other guys said if the two in the 100 don’t then that doesn’t matter because the other 98 are really receptive. And that’s what we learnt this summer and since we’ve started. So people want change and they’re really receptive to it which is great.
Another key learning is that signage is key. So you see there Rising had it pretty clear but it needs to be at that level all the time. So for the people that sort of haven’t seen it before and are a little bit confused, when there’s no signage they’re just guessing and they’ll just put it wherever they think and then that’s not ideal for anyone. So good signage enhances the customer experience and leaves waste streams with less contamination which is what everyone wants. So investing in signage with our input is key.
So other events we’ve serviced. So like Will said we did the Australian Open this year. We just wrapped up Rising which was a three week event. We also worked on the Grand Prix. We did the Big Vegan Market at the Royal Exhibition Building, the Glenroy Festival with Moreland City Council, Tourism Noosa Christmas Party. So we have ventured outside of Victoria and come over to Queensland. We’ve done the Broadsheet Media Bushfire Relief Picnic, Spanish Language Fiesta, the Australian Greens National Conference. So that one there’s really important to notice as well because it’s not only these big sporting events or music festivals that we are servicing. The great thing about Green My Plate is we can scale it to anybody. So whether it’s a 60 person conference to a 6,000 person event we can provide plates and our service towards. We’ve also serviced weddings as well. So those ones there were of the smaller size.
And that’s important to note as well that there’s no event too small to make a difference. And that’s what we’ve always thought. So we hire items as well. So we’ve hired 30, 40, 50 items at once and people ask is it worth it. We said well every little bit counts. So if you’re thinking that you’ve got a 50 person party or something like that we can certainly service it. So every little bit counts.
So as you can see there are many benefits to reusables. So yeah hopefully we can see you guys at the next event and switch your investment from people picking up rubbish to Green My Plate washing the dishes. Because as you can see with the plastic ban coming up single use will soon be in the past. So thanks guys for your time.
Thanks guys. Thanks for having us.
Thanks Brij as well.
Thank you Jess and thank you Will. What a great presentation and some fantastic examples. So thank you so much.
And moving on to our next and final presentation. So musicians and artists can create social norms using the sphere of influence and they can amplify messages to make positive impacts. To shed more light on this topic last but not least our next presenter is Berish Bilander from Green Music Australia. Berish is a composer, musician and activist dedicated to climate and social justice. He has co-written and toured with a range of artists including Vika and Linda Bull, Jamie Faulkner and the new music ensemble Motion. As an activist Berish has worked with local climate action groups which support state and national campaigns run through Friends of Earth and in 2013 helped found Public Transport Not Traffic. Welcome Berish.
Thanks Brij for having me and thanks everyone for your great presentations. I’m a big fan of that work that’s going on in the reusable space.
Before I begin I’ll just acknowledge that I’m calling in from the beautiful Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country down south in Narrm otherwise known as Melbourne and I pay my respects to Elders past and present, any First Nations people that might be on this call at the moment. I really reiterate the sentiments expressed by Jase from B-Alternative at the beginning that we have a lot of catching up to do. There’s 80,000 plus years of learnings around how to treat this environment with a level of respect such that we can be custodians. So yeah I very much look to First Nations peoples for that guidance and knowledge.
So I’ll share my screen and hopefully it comes up. Let’s see.
Is that working?
Yes. It is good.
Okay. Excellent. So yeah I’m calling in. My name’s Berish and I’m the CEO of Green Music Australia. So we are a relatively small not for profit organisation that’s Australia wide. We try to punch above our weight being relatively small but servicing what is a huge industry, many, many thousands of musicians across the country, thousands of live music venues, thousands of events. It’s a big job but we’re stoked to be in this space. And our mission is very much to help the music scene go green and create a safer future for us all. You only need to look at the recent floods to see what’s at stake here.
So yeah we’re harnessing the cultural power of the influential music scene. And that’s a really critical thing that I’m going to bring home today. A lot of the others have talked about really practical solutions at events and we lean on organisations like Green My Plate and B‑Alternative. There are a growing number of reusable solutions out there but we’re trying to also create the cultural change within the music sector so that they embrace these changes and they’re looking for the businesses like this to work with.
Bono famously said ‘Music can change the world because it can change people’. And we all know the power of music when we’ve sat in front of our favourite act or we’ve turned it on at night. We all know that marketing gurus use music and pay big bucks to have fantastic music on their ads. So it is powerful. It’s a powerful behaviour change tool. What people say on stage matters. What they say to their audiences through their songs matters. And we’re in the business of turning it all green.
I want to bring your attention to three particular projects we’ve worked on over the years because I know that this conversation today is all focused on waste and how to switch away from single use and it’s certainly something we’ve been working on for a while. BYO Bottle, Party with the Planet – which I’ve got to give full credit here that the slogan comes from B-Alternative and they are part of an alliance that we’re working with. More on that later – and Sound Country which is the latest project we’re working on.
I’ll start off with BYO Bottle. So it’s a campaign we started up. It was the first one I worked on actually when I joined the org in 2015. And it was tackling the issue of single use plastic water bottles. At that point in 2015 they had become ubiquitous. People thought you couldn’t run an event without a single use plastic water bottle. The big companies like the Pepsis and the Nestles and that had the market cornered and we were very much trying to wind back the clock in some ways. Because when I was a kid growing up I went to many a live music event and there was no such thing as a bottle of water like that. There were reusable bottles of water and there were taps that you drank from directly. So we knew it could be done and we just needed to work on the cultural issue that had arisen.
So we began by recruiting some fantastic acts to talk about their commitment to reusable water bottles. You’ve got there Paul Kelly on the left and Vika and Linda Bull on the right, some icons of the Australian music scene. We promoted their commitment and we started recruiting many more and ended up each plastic free July we’d announce every day of the month of July, so 31 days, we’d announce a different act that had committed. And we’ve now got over 120 artists and really major artists across the country committed to touring without single use plastic water bottles but committed to touring with their reusable water bottle.
They also changed their drinks rider. So it very specifically asks the venue that they play at to not provide them with a slab of single use water bottles as has become the custom. And what we’re finding is more and more venues have started to adopt this permanently and we’re pretty confident that we’ve saved a couple of million water bottles thanks to some major music venues making the switch. So that means five nights or seven nights a week the music that’s being played at those venues no longer has single use water bottles provided back of house or to staff or crew. Groups likes Max Watts, the Corner Hotel and there’s a bunch of others that are doing it.
This is something we don’t often do but we found that we were having trouble convincing some events to move away from water bottles on stage. So we provided a little service where we’ve bought some of these reusable water bottles and provide them as a rentable service. And really hopeful that more and more businesses will get involved in this space. So that’s us at Lost Lands in 2019 with a crew of people providing this. This is one of the rare occasions where we were providing it front of house to patrons, audience members, but generally speaking it’s something that’s provided back of house.
We’ve also worked with over 40 festivals to make a commitment and the BYO Bottle commitment is essentially they’re going to provide some fantastic water refill stations so that people can come and refill their bottles easily and hydrate easily. It’s moving away as I said from that single use model and there are a bunch of events that have proven that it’s totally doable and no one goes thirsty. Happy to talk in more details about that.
So another one of our major campaigns we’ve worked on is Party with the Planet. And so we were running round tables with a bunch of festivals and social enterprises like B-Alternative and other non-profits to talk about the issues of waste and how we can deal with it. And one of the things that kept coming up was the campsite litter. I think B-Alternative touched on it briefly but this idea that a bunch of items that are essentially being treated as single use. And so we sort of worked to get this group of people into a room together which includes representatives from Falls Festival, Splendour in the Grass, Rainbow Serpent, Beyond the Valley, Pitch, and Strawberry Fields and a bunch of others. You might recognise a festival in that mix. A lot of them are youth festivals. They’re all multi-day camping festivals and they were all seeing the same problem no matter whether they were happening in Byron Bay or down south in Victoria. They were encountering this kind of situation.
And I don’t know if many people have visited a multi-day camping festival of that nature, relatively young crowd, but unfortunately it can end up often being campsite Armageddon as you’re seeing here. And if the piece of equipment is cheap enough it can essentially be left at the end of the festival. And I really do see that as a continuum from the single use water bottle. As soon as we’ve packaged up water into a receptacle and said use this for a few minutes and then throw it in the bin and then you can do the same with your plates and cutlery and you can do the same with your cups it’s not that much of a stretch for people to go all right well we’ll do that with our food packaging, we’ll do that with our drinks, now we’ll just start doing that with our camping gear.
So I’ve got a little video here just to demonstrate how bad it is. I don’t know if it will play all right. [0:46:07]. This is a particular festival where it was really hot on the final day and the winds were very high and stuff is getting blown everywhere as you can see.
So our approach to dealing with that was to start off with some new research that hadn’t been done. We conducted about 880 surveys to try and understand what are the key behavioural drivers behind littering at campsites. It was picked up by Triple J amongst others. The key drivers that we found was damaged tents are going to be left behind no matter what quality and usually they are poor quality. If something gets damaged on site it’s going to be dumped. Unfortunately that leads to the second main driver which was social proof. So if people see it being done they’re going to join in and there’s going to be a ripple effect. There are a few other reasons. But I expected urgency to leave the festival to be the number one driver and it was only the number five driver. So by far we had to try and deal with the issue of damaged tents.
There’s Jase off in the corner and Chris Burton from Falls Festival and a bunch of others discussing the problems and trying to come up with solutions. And some of the solutions we piloted before the pandemic hit was a marketing campaign. So we wanted artists to start telling fans how important it was that they took care. I’ll play this one for you.
This summer it doesn’t matter.
Where we’re partying.
Which festival we’re at.
Who we’re dancing with.
Or who we’re dancing to.
We’ve got to do better.
Let’s avoid single use plastics.
Borrow before buying.
Only bring what we need.
And most importantly.
I Know Leopard:
Take it all home.
Dead Letter Circus:
Take our tent home.
Take our shit home.
Take it home.
Let’s leave our festival sites looking as pristine as they were before we arrived.
Let’s party with the planet.
And not against it.
You’re on Aboriginal land. If you take care of country country will take care of you.
Party with the planet not against it.
Cool. So it’s hard for me to give you really concrete data on the kind of impact that had. A lot of these cultural campaigns are a little bit more difficult to measure. But certainly having people’s favourite artist talk to them directly on festival screens – and this was obviously shared through social media – was one of the strategies we employed. It’s also great to have groups like Bettercup or B-Alternative or others on site reducing the amount of waste that can possibly be created.
And we trialled for the first time – we got a fantastic group called Clunes that they’re like a boutique camping store. We got them on site at Strawberry Fields and Falls Festival to hire out really high quality marquees and tents. So some of the marquees that are being ripped up and blown away that you saw in the previous shot are single stitched and they were offering triple stitched things. And there was a really high deposit that was asked. So it wasn’t actually that costly to pick up that tent or marquee on site but what was costly was the deposit that was put on. So if you don’t bring it back in tip top condition you’re going to have to pay that deposit. And people brought them back. So there were 100 marquees and tents that were brought into this pilot and 99 out of the 100 came back at Strawberry Fields and all 100 came back at Falls but unfortunately Falls was cancelled a couple of days early because of intense winds and heat. So they were a bit worried about a bushfire.
So we didn’t get a heap of data and then obviously the pandemic hit and we haven’t been able to revisit. But this is certainly stuff that we’re really excited about expanding. We’re also in the process of working with Queensland University of Technology on a new app that will help people plan better. Because we did realise that what people bring on site matters. It’s really the same kind of thing and it was being talked about earlier around contamination. What’s there in the first place is going to dictate whether you’ve got an easy job afterwards or a really difficult job. And so if people are bringing junk on site like Kmart tents and the like that are likely to break they’re going to dump them. It’s going to create a real problem. So can we circumvent the problem upfront? That’s what we’re working on.
And project number three. I’m conscious of time. I don’t want to take too much of your time. But we’ve produced a special guide with the help of First Nations Elder Rhoda Roberts who’s been an arts executive for the better part of her adult life and is also a Bundjalung custodian. And she’s given us a wealth of information that we’ve incorporated into a new sustainability resource for musicians. I don’t know how many people on this call are musicians but I think a lot of the learnings are going to be applicable to the events world as well. So we’re launching that this Monday and it will be widely available. It’s going to be a free web resource. This is the graphic that we’ve created with it. This is kind of like the festival scene that we want to see in the future. All reusable. You’ll notice the bins there if you can spot them. It’s like a Where’s Wally. There’s only recycling and compost. If you were going to add a third bin to that it should be one of those pink bins, the reuse system. There’s no landfill because why would we be creating landfill when we can put everything in the other bins.
So look thank you so much for your time and I really look forward to any questions if anyone wants to throw them my way or just get in touch with us and we can answer any questions.
And Thanks Brij and the Sustainability Victoria team for facilitating this conversation. I’m going to stop my sharing.
Thank you Berish. Thank you so much. And yeah I think it doesn’t matter whether it is a small event or a big event with musicians or artists or sports people, there is such key actors in translating these messages and really amplifying them. So thank you so much.
And it’s Q&A time. So thank you audience for watching this and being patient. And some great questions I’m seeing in the Chat. So either you can type in the Chat if you have questions and once we go through some of these first few questions you can also unmute and ask. So the first question from the audience is:
Q: How do you ensure the washing process is also sustainable? Water is one of the very scarce resources so how do you ensure?
Green My Plate?
So all the dishwashers we use are low water. So they actually have a really low litreage per watt. So it’s actually more water efficient to wash it in the dishwasher than in the sink anyway. So I can send through some more stats on that that we’ve got but at the AO we used very little water over the two week period. So most dishwashers now are really sort of water efficient.
Thanks. Go for it Jase.
Yeah. That’s a really good call bro. I reckon you nailed that. Just another one as well for people to consider is the amount of water and water embodied energy that goes into single use. So there’s actually a substantial amount of litreage that goes into every single use item whether it be compostable or plastic. So as they mentioned as well the Green My Plate crew are all over it with low water consumption and I think if you compare that to how much embodied water goes into a single use it would be significantly different.
Thanks Jason. The next one is:
Q: What if the event does not have accessible kitchen or dishwasher? Do you have a roaming kitchen?
I’ll pose this to Green My Plate first.
We’re in the same position as the B-Alternative guys. We’re looking at getting sort of a van in the future. But currently we do wash offsite as well. So we can deliver and pick up later depending on the size. So there are other options if you don’t have a kitchen. We have washed in tubs and buckets before but I think B-Alternative would know that that’s not really much fun and it’s pretty tough to do. But yeah there are other ways. So it’s all about tailoring the system to what you need.
And fortunately I note as well we do have some commercial dishwashers already and we have a marquee set up. And Green My Plate guys we can talk later if you guys want to help out and we can work together on that as well. But we’ve got some commercial dishwashers we currently use to date but we are actually looking to increase that.
A lot of our events have been in very remote places whether it be Falls Festival or Unify. We do have the facilities to set up. We just need power that’s suitable and in circumstances where we can have grey water outlet or we can use IBC tanks. And often for a festival of sort of a few thousand people we’ll only fill one IBC tank or 1,000 litre tank so it is a tiny amount.
Good. Thank you.
Q: What about serviettes? Do you have sustainable solutions?
So serviettes. I mean that’s one of those things again it’s hard to sort of cross everything but serviettes are compostable and we make sure they’re compostable, sustainably sourced and we supply that with sustainable cutlery for the events that don’t want to use cutlery as well. But yeah I guess it is one step at a time. I don’t know if the Green My Plate crew want to talk to this at all. We’ve tried reusable serviettes in the past. One it’s really expensive and two it’s not exactly easy to clean and dry really rapidly. And the actual energy in drying is significantly higher than just using a commercial dishwasher. But that’s just our experience anyway.
Thank you. And the next question is:
Q: What about cutlery?
Green My Plate? Jess?
We initially had cutlery. We do have cutlery. Cutlery was a huge learning for us where we decided it’s not as easy as it looks. So we have used it. We do use it for our smaller scale events. So for example at the Noosa Christmas Party they had 600 people and even then that was a huge job for us. We are putting our heads together and trying to figure out the best way forward for cutlery but in the meantime we’re recommending to events to use the compostable cutlery in the meantime or compostable cutlery that can be composted. I think that’s really important.
Jason do you have insights into the cutlery space?
We’re pretty much the same. We’ve had the same problem. Cutlery is a nightmare. We’ve got wholesale accounts with compostable suppliers so we actually make sure that – again as you said it is actually real compostable not the stuff that says it is and isn’t. So yeah we monitor that and audit that as well. But that’s where I think we’re in the same boat there. It’s a bit of a challenge.
Okay. So just to touch on a few points here. So yes we will be recording this webinar and we’ll be sending it to those who have registered for this and publishing on our website of course. The next question is about bioplastics. It’s also going to be banned. The reason why the bioplastic is – sorry. I’m just reading the question here. So the bioplastic is also going to be banned and one of the reasons is they don’t break down in its natural environment. They need to be processed in a very specialised facility. And of course to grow bioplastics it requires fresh water and land use. So the bioplastics are also in the ban.
Sorry. I’m just going through the questions here.
Q: Do you service small events? Is there a minimum number of attendees that you have as a requirement?
No not for us. So like I said we’ve serviced weddings. We’re about to do a baby shower. It can be as small as you like. The impact – everything makes a difference. So for the smaller events we would rent obviously just the plates. So we create a different kind of rental system. And if you actually go on our website on the Contact Us page there’s a few questions there that we ask, and then we can again tailor our system to best suit your needs.
Thank you. And I did see through the registrants list that there are so many people also joining us from New South Wales and other jurisdictions. So it’s fantastic to have you all here. So the question is:
Q: Are all of you based in Victoria?
So our audience is also based in Lake Macquarie in New South Wales so do you have any recommendations in that area?
Well we’re based nationally. So we’ve got storage along the east coast as well and all of our stuff is transportable which I’m sure is the same with Green My Plate. So yeah we’ve done everything. We’ve done reusable events all over Australia. The only place we haven’t done a reusable one yet is WA. But a matter of time hey.
We’re similar. Will and I are based in Melbourne and then our third business partner Ryan he’s on the Gold Coast. So yeah our reach currently is Queensland but we obviously can transport our gear across Australia as well. But we’ve also formed partnerships too in the past with plastic free groups. So yeah there is conversations around how we can get our plates across the country.
Thank you. And this is a fantastic question as well is that:
Q: What do you do when you have a push back from the food businesses on the events?
I’ll start with Jason.
I guess in our experience the biggest thing – I’m sure Green My Plate crew might have noticed this as well – food vendors are very particular about what they want. So getting the range for what they need is not always that easy. So we’ve diversified. We’ve got a fairly detailed range now. And I guess it’s about bringing them along for the ride. So I guess we’re always just trying to encourage them that it’s bigger than if their plate looks a little bit different than what it normally does. They’re normally on board with that. And I guess we show them the financial savings as well and they do tend to – as long as you come to people with a smile they do tend to get on board when they know it’s for the right reasons. That’s why we get Berish in there because he’s always got a really good smile.
Yeah. So we haven’t had too many issues to be honest.
Similar to Green My Plate as well B-Alternative provide reporting post-event. And when we give that information to those food vendors and say ‘Well you were a part of this and what you’ve achieved from diversion from landfill’ they’re super stoked with that and that’s a pretty easy win for them. Also I guess it does look better on a plate when they’re serving their food and patrons are having a better experience for eating or drinking and they basically come back and say ‘Well that was a no brainer. That was awesome’. So if an event in COVID times has actually gone back from a reusable model to a compostable model we’ve had punter kickback saying ‘Why are you doing packaging again? You progressed pre-COVID and now you’ve gone back’. So event organisers are actually sort of going back and saying ‘Well next year we’ll be doing reusable for sure’.
And vendor pushback as well. The vendors have pushed back and gone ‘Now our food doesn’t look as good anymore’. So it’s that whole courage of taking that first step isn’t it?
Great. Thanks. And Jess? Do you have any insights into when the vendors are pushing back?
I mean I recall one of our first events we had a vendor push back and I was a bit taken aback by it and I managed to convince her to use our bowls and by the end of it she actually came up to me and was like ‘I’m so sorry. It was awesome. It was great’.
And it sort of is the same as a lot of punters as well. Once they do it, they feel it, they touch it, they experience it, and then they come back and go ‘This is the best thing ever’. So it’s getting over that initial hump and then it’s fine. And we feel that if we can brief the vendors a lot before we get there, they can touch the plate, they can see it, then it’s going to eliminate a lot of that uneasiness I suppose as well. So the more they know before it the better they are when they get there.
I’m curious from my perspective. I try to make sure that festivals when they’re on board are communicating really clearly to the food vendors before the event. Do you find that’s helpful?
Not just food vendors. As well there’s also the punter engagement. So if we can send out punter engagement where the punters are actually expecting ‘There’s going to be a reusable model and this is what I need to look for. I need to look for the certain coloured bins,’ or whatever it may be. Any engagement we can have pre-event has a profound impact on the end result.
And it actually correlates well with what Berish is talking about at the campgrounds. I don’t know if you guys have noticed it with Green My Plate but every reusable event we’ve done when we’ve gone out to do our campground education we reiterate it during the campgrounds as well. And we also see a better behaviour in the campgrounds. It seems to be like you create a reusable model and it does echo through the campgrounds and we’ve seen less waste. So I reckon Berish might be a Green Music Australia sort of survey to come.
Thanks Jason. And I think this joy of having – without the guilt of using single use plastics. So yeah that’s great. So we’re going back on cutlery.
Q: Why is cutlery so difficult?
Have you ever dried 5,000 forks?
I’ll leave it at that. That’s all it is. It’s just time consuming. And they’re small and they get lost. So they’re the two things we’ve found. I don’t know about you guys.
We’ve also found people throw them in the bin. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that. They’re like this isn’t worth anything so they throw it in the bin. But a plate they won’t.
I think also when you look at the alternative of being compostable and the one that is certified compostable and actually compostable in Australia’s standards is the bamboo, the non-PLA coated bamboo cutlery, look how easy that is and quick to grow with little water. And actually when it’s composted it’s a regenerative practice going back into the soil for agricultural purposes. So it’s a pretty solid sort of option rather than using the – Jase and I are both in the same boat and that’s from washing the 5,000 forks.
It’s not much fun.
Yeah exactly. So it’s a hair keeping campaign for us.
Baby steps as well. We’re trying to educate people and get people on board one thing at a time. Yep.
Great. The next question is:
Q: What kind of lead time do you require for engaging quotes for the events especially when you’re looking at the council as an audience?
It really depends on the size of the event. Ideally for a larger event we’re looking sort of around five/six months. In saying that in these times where we’ve had events literally ring us up sort of under ten days before the event and say ‘Hey can you do an event for 5,000 people’ and we can pull it together. But look I think waste is often seen as a very last minute thing for events. We want to move them away from that norm and actually go well actually this whole model is not just waste. This is actually a regenerative model. We can implement this and this can be a really centre point to our event. And it’s a really strong marketing tool as well. It’s a great story. If we go back to Queenscliff Music Festival and Sustainability Victoria’s Premier’s Sustainability Award they won that a couple of years ago. So there is a lot of sort of kudos which goes with implementing a model like this and shouldn’t be just a last minute sort of thing.
I mean operationally it can be a pretty short lead time but the longer lead time you’ve got at the start it’s about that education. So you can get more comms out, you can get to the food vendors. There’s a bit less uneasiness on site. So the longer the better but we have done it in short lead times and it’s still obviously really successful. So just leave yourself enough time to really get the most out of the system.
Great. Thank you. And there’s some great comments in support for this Masterclass. So thank you all so much. If anyone else has a question please this is a great time to unmute and ask.
Can I just jump in Brij and say one thing that I forgot to say in my presentation which is the sound country resource that we’ve developed. It seems like there is a bunch of councils and event people on this call and the education flows in various directions. So if as a resource that’s something you reckon you could share with your roster of artists that are going to be performing who will read it and then hopefully become advocates down the road for all the green work you’re going to do, they’ll be on stage shouting about how great are these reuse systems that are happening out there, it just creates this virtuous cycle. So I’d encourage people once it’s released and launched that they jump on to our website and read it and then get in touch with us because we’re totally up for it being shared with performers or any of the talent.
I think further to that Berish as well around councils we’re working more and more with councils who are just saying to their events in their areas ‘Hey use a model like this’ and wanting sort of models that they can adapt. So by using Green My Plate, by using B-Alternative in this space for your council events I think is a really – it’s a stance which is powerful but it also ticks a lot of council strategic plan sort of points as well. So it just makes sense.
Thank you. And this is the last question for the day.
Q: Is it a simple framework that exists for implementing a circular event?
Yeah. I mean from our experience the implementation of the whole thing is – as we said starts at the communication pre-event and then you bring it into the actual – everything pre-event as we talked about before, giving more time. The more time there is the easier it’s going to be on the day. But I think from our experience as well because we are managing the skips, we’re managing everything, for the event it’s a really easy process. It’s like ‘Here you go guys. Make it happen. What do we need’ and then we just basically do the whole thing. One thing that I think Berish’s group is doing really well is also focusing on the stage stuff. So to make sure it’s a clean system. It's kind of like oiling the engine, the environmental engine of course that runs on biodiesel. But if we can get that stage presence we find that that actually takes a lot of the kinks out of the systems. So it is in our experience – and I’m sure Green My Plate would probably share the same view – that it’s actually a really easy circular system to implement but just contact us all early, as early as possible, even today, and so then we can start having those conversations. And it’s really straightforward from there.
Great. Thank you so much. So thank you all so much for taking time today, so today’s Masterclass and your wonderful participation. And special thanks to our presenters. Without you this would not be possible. And I hope you all learnt something today and now feel inspired to make your next event sustainable.
We have a very short survey we would love for you to complete. Your feedback will really help us to plan our future activities. We shall send out the recording of this webinar again and meanwhile please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions and suggestions. Yes we are making some of our resources especially for business focused resources as a part of this program – so we will be sharing Sustainability Victoria’s business engagement link as well. So keep an eye out and soon we’ll be releasing some resources on that.
Again thanks again for participation and hope you all enjoy the rest of your day. So thank you so much.
[End of Transcript]
For more information, read Victoria’s major festivals reducing single-use plastics.
This masterclass was for businesses interested in reducing single-use coffee cups or that support businesses with circular solutions, such as local governments, trader associations, building or shopping centre managers.
Presenters from Green Caffeen, Skip Zero, Huskee, Cercle and One Good Cup provided reuse solutions for coffee and tea drinkers on the move.
Café Reuse Masterclass
Brij Parmar, Project Advisor Engagement, Sustainability Victoria
Co-founder, Green Caffeen
Partnerships Manager, Huskee
One Good Cup
[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Acknowledgement of Country’, ‘Sustainability Victoria’, ‘I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which I am based today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations, and pay my respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. I also pay my respects to the Traditional Custodians of the lands from which you are joining us today’, ‘I acknowledge that we live and work on the lands of the world’s oldest and most sustainable culture’, ‘I acknowledge the deep connection to Earth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their invaluable contributions to our understanding of climate change and environment’]
[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]
Welcome everyone to our reuse solutions for café masterclass by Sustainability Victoria. This is the third masterclass in the single-use plastic series. And it’s fantastic to see so much interest in this space.
I would like to commence today’s session with an acknowledgment of country. I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which I am based today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations, and pay my respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. I also pay my respects to the Traditional Custodians of the lands from which you are joining us today. Please feel free to let us know in the chat from where you are joining us today. I acknowledge that we live and work on the lands of the world’s oldest and most sustainable culture. I acknowledge the deep connection to the Earth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their invaluable contributions to our understanding of climate change and the environment.
So today I’ll provide a brief overview of the single-use plastic policy in Victoria and also SV’s business engagement activities and then we will hear from our presenters on how they are implementing reuse systems.
Many of you are aware of the single-use plastic policy. This is a deliverable of the circular economy policy. Regulation has now been made to ban problematic single-use plastic from sale or supply in Victoria from 1st February 2023. The ban applies to the single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers and cotton bud sticks made from conventional, degradable and compostable plastics. So that also includes bioplastics. The ban also applies to food services and drink containers made from expanded polystyrene. There are some exemptions available for medical needs and others. For more information please visit Victoria Government’s website for the plastic ban.
At SV we are running a program to support food serving businesses transition away from single‑use items whilst focusing on reuse and implement reusable solutions. This program includes providing business focused resources, masterclasses like this one and grants as well as localised business engagement activities across Victoria. But today’s session is all about learning how to implement a reuse system at cafes.
We love our coffee in Australia and it’s deeply embedded in our social fabric. Australian coffee is considered as one of the best in the world. I was just having a quick look at one of New York’s restaurants and they were selling Melbourne great lattes. So that says a lot about our quality of our coffee. It has been estimated that Australians consume over 1.6 billion lids and coffee cups per year. Coffee cups are used for a short time and thrown away and they are very difficult to recycle and often end up in landfill. Our data shows that coffee cups are the highest single-use items consumed in Victoria.
So today we’ll hear from the industry on what reuse models are available and our presenters will outline their business models and offerings. And after all the presentations we will have a Q&A. So for the Q&A please use the chat function not the Q&A. Sorry. We have a tech issue there. But just use the chat function. Okay.
So I’ll just introduce our first presenter. So our first presenter is Martin. Martin is a co-founder from Green Caffeen. He was frustrated by the single-use plastic coffee cups and environmental damages they are causing. Green Caffeen started in 2018 on the south coast of New South Wales as a small community-based start-up and has now grown into a country-wide network providing re-usable swap and go coffee cup systems to cafes and coffee lovers. I’ll just share Martin’s slides and Martin welcome.
Good morning. Thanks for having us.
Are you ready for me to go?
Go for it Martin.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘green caffeen’, ‘swap and go reusable cups’ with a photo of a reusable green coffee cup]
Yeah. Good morning everyone. I’m Martin and this is Sarah and we’re from Green Caffeen.
You’re muted Martin.
Got me now?
Green Caffeen is Australia’s largest swap and go reusable cup system. We’re on a quest to help cafes and coffee lovers kick the single use disposable cup habit. If you can give me the next slide please Jean.
We provide a reusable cup system that’s easy to use, free for cover lovers, cost-effective for cafes and awesome for the environment. Our aim is to implement a program that addresses the dependency on single-use coffee cups. We offer coffee drinkers an easy entry free way to have access to clean, reusable cups that can be swapped in and out at any participating café. Coffee drinkers simply download the Green Caffeen app, sign up and have access to cups at over 750 cafes throughout each state and territory in Australia. If I can get the next slide.
It's like a library book system for cups, free as long as you bring the cups back. What we don’t want is our cups to end up like most reusables and sit in your cupboard or car not getting used. We give our users 30 days to get their cups scanned back into the system and emails are automatically sent out at 14 days and again at 28 days reminding users to return their cups. In the event your cup hasn’t been returned after 30 days you are charged a one off $12.99 late fee. But there’s a feature in the app that allows you to return an overdue cup which triggers an automatic refund. We run a penalty-based system instead of an upfront deposit-based system. This motivates customers to keep the cups into the system so there’s enough to go around.
To date we have saved over 1.6 million single use coffee cups from entering landfill and had over 38,000 people download the Green Caffeen app. If I can get the next slide Jean.
We have partnered with over 35 councils from around the country who can offer their cafes within their LGA as a sustainable solution to single use coffee cups that will save them money. The next one please.
We’ve partnered with the CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the ACT Government. Green Caffeen is also successfully running in Monash University, the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne. And the next one please Jean.
We are continually striving to improve the reusable takeaway coffee cup experience. Every time coffee is served in a Green Caffeen cup cafes are not forking out the 20 or 30 cents on a single use compostable or biodegradable cup. We’re proud to announce that our cups are designed and made in Australia from a blend of recycled food grade plastic. We also make sure our cups are fully recyclable at the end of their lifespan. Once they reach the end of their waste saving journey out of commission cups will be recycled back into new Green Caffeen cups making ours a completely circular system. Green Caffeen has the ability to track transactions through the app allowing us to capture and report on things like the total number of participating cafes and total number of users. This information can then be broken down into specific LGAs. Data tracking also provides the correlation between the number of cups diverted from landfill, the number of trees saved, bins prevented from reaching landfill and the offset of carbon.
Green Caffeen is at the forefront of changing the takeaway coffee culture in Australia and we look forward to partnering with many councils, corporations and universities in the future. Thank you.
Thanks Martin. Thank you so much for your presentation. And our next presenter is Chad from Huskee Cups. With a marine science background Chad gets excited every day to work on this issue that significantly affects the ocean he loves and to protect our planet and his two amazing children and future generations. Chad is excited to see the continued movement and awareness of and efforts on single use plastics. Chad is a partnership manager at Huskee. While new to business he’s not new to the issue of circular economy. Chad has spent the last five years working on this issue from many different directions, from developing and managing community programs like plastic free Noosa, doing trials for councils on soft systems and working with the industry as a restaurant franchise sustainability manager. Chad is committed to delivering systems, behavioural change and collaboration. Welcome Chad. Let me just share your slides.
When you’re ready Chad.
I think you have it backwards. I think that’s the end slide.
There we go. Thank you Brij for that introduction and thank you everyone for attending. If we can go to the next slide.
I think most people are aware of Huskee the cup. And Huskee has a vision. So our vision is to build a global brand that designs beautiful and practical products and enables a transition to a waste free world. We’re a design-led company and just to give you a scope of the business we’re now in over 2,000 stores and distributors globally. We have over 1,000 Huskee swap sites which we will discuss.
We have a team of…
Sorry Chad. I just accidentally muted you. Could you please unmute yourself? So sorry about that.
That’s okay. All right. I’ll start again. I think most people are aware of the Huskee cup and I just want to talk about our vision. So the vision. We’re a design-led company and we aim to build a global brand that designs beautiful and practical products and transition to a waste free world. To give you an example of the scope of the business we are in over 2,000 retailers and stores and cafes globally. We have over 1,000 Huskee swap sites. We have a team of 26 employees. And even in COVID during 2020 to 2022 we grew.
To date we have diverted over 600 tonnes of husk which is a component of our cups which I’ll talk about in a second. Just this year recently I completed an impact report. So if you want this report and understand the scope and the scale of what Huskee does we can provide that to you. Also important for you to know is we got certified as a B corporation in 2021 so we’re very transparent about what we’re doing and how we’re trying to achieve those goals. And in progress right now we’re mapping all of our activities to the UN sustainable development goals. Next slide.
Like I said we’re a design first company creating solutions for our own industry. So the cups themselves are designed using the waste biproduct of the coffee industry or the coffee husk. And we use that same design philosophy when designing our systems and programs. The Huskee swap system is an opt in model and I’ll discuss in detail how that’s different from some of the other models in how we use that behaviour and how that matches consumer behaviour. The Huskee swap system is designed for cafes first and foremost. And we also have the Huskee loop system. So we’ll talk about that in detail as well. And that is a program to help us deliver on our circular economy outcomes. We’re excited about some new products. And basically the Huskee loop system is a voluntary program so that we can take responsibility for our end of life products. Next slide.
Now the Huskee swap system if you haven’t seen it is it’s a buy in swap system. And that’s important for behaviour change. It matches the human behaviour of that old adage of saying you value what you pay for. And so in this case we buy a cup upfront and that gets consumers to commit to a program. It’s a low cost cup. So it’s currently sitting in the market as a mid-range option, around $15 to $20. Importantly there’s no ongoing costs and in some ways you can consider this model an infinite ownership model. As long as you have a cup and you haven’t lost it you can continually swap this cup for life. So I like to call it infinite ownership.
Businesses soon will be facing the choice of single use plastic bans. They’ll have a choice of one replacing their disposable cups they’re currently using with more expensive or compostable cups and lids which have known disposal option issues, or they can encourage reusables and implement reusable systems that save them money and save the planet. The Huskee swap system has three core revenue streams for business which is quite different from other models. One you can retail the cups and they sell very well. As you can see we’re a large company and growing. The swap allows ongoing and significant savings for businesses. So if you’re not buying disposable cups 20/30 cents per cup is saved and that’s an ongoing savings if you can encourage people to swap.
There’s also that positive interaction that you have with your customers and you attract and retain new conscious consumers. The app to support the swap system is completely optional. Credit cards and information are not required. You don’t have to download the app to participate in the swap however the app gives you additional benefits like storing your cup or borrowing a cup if you forgot it, all human behaviours that we know. It’s a truly scalable and sustainable solution for Huskee, for the café and for them. Okay. Next slide.
So how is an opt in system different from other systems that you’ll hear today? First of all the cup itself is a desirable cup. It’s known. It’s trusted in the industry. And that’s due to our transparency and engagement. The user experience is simple. So there’s no apps necessary for initial participation. Simply you need to buy a cup once and you can participate infinitely. The system is designed specifically for the industry with workflows in mind. So stacking your cups. They’re stackable. They sit on top of your machine. And there’s no complex transactions. They provide a cup and you give them a cup and a reusable cup.
There’s no ongoing costs like subscription models, deposit systems or app requirements. And these are all significant behaviour change hurdles of getting people to use a swap system. A full merchandise pack and collateral are provided for every café when they join swap to assist in communication and set up of the swap system. We also have a dedicated staff member simply to support the swap system. We deliver a choice to cafes and consumers. The cups themselves with their saucers are even suitable for dine in as well as takeaway. The cups have multiple sizes so you’re not limited to a particular size and they have universal lids. There’s no obligation to return the cup either. So if you want to use the cup simply as a keep cup they’re free to do that. They don’t need to do anything else which is also good behaviour.
The store and borrow functions that are present on the swap app are completely optional but they’re encouraged and they help the cafes themselves to encourage repeat behaviour and savings. Swap can also be run independent at a café or a network. So you don’t need a network for a café to do swap. Each café can do it individually but obviously a network helps. The community have more options. We’re also developing new features. The app is now developed in-house and the new features will link rewards to cafes and behaviour change not necessarily just buying a cup of coffee.
How we support partnerships. We’ve had over 29 key partnerships with universities, councils and corporate. Some of them that you can see are Canva, Macquarie University, Google and Microsoft. So we have significant partnerships in place. We have a full design team to support any café or partnership for activation plans and collateral. And we can provide reports and metrics that allow our partners to report on their impacts. Okay. Next slide.
One of the things I’m really excited about is the circular economy aspect of Huskee. What we’re trying to do is show that end of life recovery is not theoretical. At Huskee it’s deliverable. So just this month we’ve launched the Huskee dog bowl which is really popular and it creates that link. So the Huskee dog bowl is actually made from 100% reclaimed Huskee cups. There’s no additional virgin or other materials in these products. They’re literally old cups that have been repurposed into a new product. We also just recently launched the Huskee renew range which looks and feels like glass but is a plastic product that has 50% recycled content in it. So again we’re taking a problem of the industry and incorporating that into our products.
There’s a few more things that we’re developing that are in the works and I’m really excited about those. But we just wanted to show you that we are delivering on circular economy which is pretty exciting.
That’s it. Thanks for listening to me. And if you want any further conversations you can click in the links on the slides provided or reach out at Partnership@huskee.co.
[Virtual of slide with text saying ‘Huskee’, ‘Thanks for listening’, ‘Partnership@huskee.co’, ‘Hello@huskee.co’]
Thank you Chad. Thanks for your presentation. And next presentation is from One Good Cup.
So Henham will be presenting from One Good Cup. Henham has a background in energy efficiency, working in warehousing and logistics in the UK. Henham saw the packaging that spurred him into action into sustainability. Initially he was trying to find a solution to hamper waste biproducts and develop reusable coffee cups. He has been focusing on convenience to lower the barrier to entry and uptake of the reusable cups. Welcome Henham.
Hi. Good morning all. Thank you very much for having me. And I can only say what a great honour it is to be involved with this presentation. Also being aware obviously of the amazing work that Huskee Cup do as well as Green Caffeen. So yeah really privileged to be involved. I just wanted to just start with a little bit about myself. Very quickly as said involved in the energy industry, energy efficiency industry. And I came about this concept having worked a lot in warehouse and logistics and seeing all the waste and rubbish being used and sort of shook my head. And when I came back to Australia late 2018 some friends of mine were involved in the hemp industry and they were actually looking for an opportunity to reuse some of their waste product as part of the hemp food processing industry. So that led me down a rabbit path similar to Huskee Cup to see whether or not there was a way of combining a waste biproduct. And as I started going down a rabbit hole we decided that something around the cup space would be potentially a useful application.
And further investigation in the industry led me to believe that actually the answer was not sort of getting a better single use cup but actually something a bit more permanent and then to try and find a way of working on that habit change. So that led me to the idea which then I found out other people had been doing is that sort of concept of reuse and trying to make life easier for people. So if we go to the next slide.
Really simply similar to Huskee Cup we’ve actually put a price on our membership model on the basis that if people pay for things they value it more. It’s free for the cafes to join. There’s also an incentive for the cafes to get involved. And just around that habit change we have included the option of getting two cups at a time. So very much we know what it’s like. I’m guilty as anyone. You don’t always have your cup on you or you don’t always remember to bring your cup so by having that access to that second cup we’ve really noticed a lot more uptake in people’s willingness to change their habits.
The cup itself I guess is something we’re really proud of. I have to confess a lot of cups were harmed in the choosing of the cup we decided to go with. So it’s a stainless steel cup. We chose it as our second iteration of cups. We chose it on the basis of its durability, it’s obvious ability to be cleaned easily given its stainless steel nature which has obviously been quite an important topic of conversation over the last two years during COVID, and additionally it’s a dual wall insulated, thermally insulated cup. So we’ve noticed it’s been really popular for those companies that offer things like Skip where they’re pre-ordering coffees that actually it stays hot for a very long time. So that’s been a real benefit to the cup itself.
That is sort of it just in terms of the membership. Really, really simple. I thought I’d keep this nice and succinct and obviously more than happy to answer questions later on. And then finally the final slide. Trying to keep it down to the four minutes. With myself, I’m the person you’ll have the direct relationship with. As I said this was my own baby. As mentioned in the first slide it was my own capital that has gone into this project so it’s the little guy having a swing. And because of our size it allows us a lot of flexibility with regards to partnership. So we’ve done a subsidised partnership with a local school down in Geelong where the cost of the membership is actually subsidised by the college for their staff members. So lots of opportunities there to partnership, potentially even co-branding opportunities. And yeah obviously I could go on a lot more but I think this will give you a very quick and short snap of where we’re at and what we might be able to provide the individual cafes.
So thank you.
No worries. Thank you so much Henham for your presentation and I’m sure people will have lots of questions about coffee cups. So moving on to our next presenter. Give me just a second.
So our next presenter is Bill from Skip Zero. Bill is a CEO at Skip and has been leading Skip from day one for almost eight years. Bill aims to remove friction between takeaway and sustainability to make the experience easy through technology. Bill understands the impact of single use packaging in Australia and is committed to drive change towards waste reduction. Welcome Bill.
Thank you. Thanks for having me. So for those of you that don’t know what Skip is, as was said we’ve been around for about seven and a half, almost eight years. We’re a pre-order, pay, collect application. We’re an Australian owned and operated business, head office here in Melbourne. Skip’s currently got over a million users that use Skip daily with over 2,500 cafes across Australia. They range from small businesses, so small cafes, larger cafes and then we work with partners such as Qantas. We started off offering a pre-order, pay, collect application. We then moved into catering, table ordering, self-managed delivery. And we thought that there’s a part that we can play to ensure that we make sustainability easy for everyone. So if you can move to the next slide.
The solution for us was Skip Zero. So what we want to try and do is that pre-order, pay, collect process, how do we make it a smooth process when it comes to sustainability and removing single use cups. So the whole thing behind it is we want zero waste, zero wait, zero guilt, reduce, reuse and reward. Next slide if possible.
To set a venue up. So we provide venues with a setup which includes retail stock. So they receive as part of the initial setup 30 cups which includes bases and lids. It also includes 12 bases that they use as pass stock, so sitting on the countertop, six warmer lids which I like to call – I don’t know if you can see this but it’s a little round food safe coaster that sits on top where merchants can actually write the customer’s name if the customer’s not there waiting for it. And we also provide them with an NFC reader. So the way the process works is the consumer purchases and joins Skip Zero where they will receive a base and a lid. From there they place their order. The merchant receives the order. They grab a cup from their pass stock. They assign the cup to the consumer, make that order. The customer comes in, provides them with their – can you hear me? Yep. I think someone’s taking a call. The customer provides them with a dirty cup which goes into a commercial dishwasher and from there the customer walks away with a fresh cup without having to…
Is someone making a call?
I’ve just muted them. Thanks Bill.
No worries. So that’s how the process works. It’s simple for a business. It’s simple for a consumer. If we can move to the next slide I’ll talk to you a bit about the cup. So we did quite a bit of – the one after. Yep. Perfect. So we did quite a bit of research. We looked at almost 100 different cups. The one that we ended up landing on is produced here in Melbourne by a company called Uppercup. The reason why we went with this particular cup in itself it goes through over 1,400 commercial washes. The cup itself is double walled which enables us to put an NFC chip down the bottom. So again the merchant assigns that cup to the consumer so straight away the customer knows which cup they’ve got. It also enables them to keep a tally of how many cups they’ve saved and also the merchants as well.
As I mentioned designed and created and made here in Australia. It’s designed with baristas. So the creamer is maintained, it’s non-porous, non-smell, 100% durable and 100% recyclable at end of life. And we’ve had really, really good feedback based off the consumer feedback and also the merchants as far as easability of washing and maintaining the cups. If we move to the next slide.
As I said for a business we set them up with cups both for retail and also to enable the swap. We provide them with the NFC reader and we also provide them with marketing collateral to assist them with promoting Skip Zero at their location. Next slide.
I don’t know if this is possible but can we click on the last link which is Skip Zero Venue Video? Hopefully everyone can hear it and hopefully it allows it to go through. If not we can share it.
Give me just a second. I’ll just share that particular window.
And I guess while that’s coming up as well we’re excited about this product. I think from a pre‑order, pay, collect app it would play a massive part of changing consumer behaviour. We’re starting with cups and we’re expanding into other products as well based off merchant feedback and consumer feedback as well. I’ll let you watch this.
There’s no sound.
Sorry about that.
That’s all right. We can send through the link and you can watch it at your own pace. Yeah. That’s Skip Zero which is part of Skip. Thank you again for listening and thanks for having me.
Thank you Bill for your presentation. And moving on to our last presentation from Cercle.
Patrick is a founder and CEO of the Cercle, the reusable cup system designed to take away the hassle from using reusable cups in a busy CBD environment. Patrick started Cercle after his frustration with remembering his reusable cup grew to a point it could no longer be ignored. And today Cercle lives in over five buildings in Sydney with an imminent expansion due in Victoria before the end of the year. Welcome Patrick.
Awesome. Thank you so much. Brij are you able to share my screen?
Sure. Give me just a second. I’ll just make you a presenter.
Awesome. Thank you very much. And I’ll keep this actually short because I know I’m standing between everyone’s next meeting and/or coffee.
Go for it Patrick.
That’s great. Thank you. All right.
All right. So Cercle is reuse without the hassle. And I want to explain to you in this next sort of one minute pitch around why we care about reuse without hassle. So this is me. This is in the basement of a big office building in Sydney. We collected two days of cups. There’s about 1,600 disposable cups. This is despite 70% of people having access to a reusable cup, either their own keep cup or a swap scheme, something like that. You still get a monumental amount of disposable cups in busy office buildings.
If we look at those cups you see that 70% of them travel 50 metres. And I think this is a really, really key fact that drove why we designed Cercle in the way that it’s been designed.
So our Cercle cups are built by Returnr. The cup’s beautiful because it’s double stainless steel walled and it keeps the coffee warmer for much longer. It’s really good in cafes, it’s stackable, it dries quick, you’ve got lines inside it so baristas know how to measure the coffee. It’s really been designed for the café environment. And this picture of the café you see up here, this is the café inside the EY building which pre-November last year was full of disposable cups and we turned the entire café over to reusable cups. We’ve now got two other cafes from our other two customers that have completely transitioned across from disposable cups to reusable cups. So we’re able to transition entire cafes over to a reusable system.
We’ve also built this which is a drop pod. We built a drop pod because we need a really, really efficient way of collecting cups in offices. Our system is built around you getting your cup from the café, drinking it wherever you like and then dropping it in the office. And we try to replicate the experience you have with a disposable cup except replacing and improving it with a reusable cup. And Cercle’s role in that is then to collect, wash and return. So we’re currently one of the only reuse systems in Australia that has the capability to collect, wash and return the cups back to cafes.
And this enables us to have massive adoption. In the building that used to have over 1,000 disposable cups dropped in the bin per day it now gets a handful and we’ve just got hundreds of these reusable cups being used.
This is our trajectory of growth. We started only about a year and a half ago and we’ve now got three buildings and we’re rocketing up. We’re washing thousands of reusable cups a day at the moment in the city.
So what an activation looks like. We get lots of cups at the cafes. We get the drop pods up in the office. We put messaging into the lobby. We’re very focused on this building where we’ve got a high density of people drinking a lot of coffee where Cercle works really well.
And people love it. Cercle’s free to use. So you as a user can go into a café and instead of getting a disposable cup you just simply get a Cercle cup. There’s no upfront payment, there’s no deposit, there’s no subscription and there’s no app.
The building loves it because they get a massive waste saving and the café really likes the cup because the coffee tastes better.
Cool. So that’s it from me. If you’ve got any questions or contact hit me up. Really keen to chat. Yeah. Like I said I just think the reality of the amount of the disposable cups that we actually need to transition across to reusable cups is so huge we actually need systems that are capable of doing the full collection, wash and return otherwise we’re simply not going to get to scale. And I also don’t think that we can ask cafes to wash hundreds of reusable cups into the thousands. We need proper infrastructure and that’s the part of the infrastructure we’re building and we’re going to bring it down to Melbourne in the new year. Cool. That’s it from me. Thank you very much.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Contact & Questions’, ‘Patrick Manley’, ‘Founder & CEO’, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, ‘0421702338’]
No worries. Thank you so much Patrick for the presentation. And this is just Q&A so everyone if you can either unmute and just ask questions or feel free to type in the chat and ask that way as well. But there was one question which I saw earlier especially to I think some of the organisations who are based in New South Wales.
Q: How many products or services are available in Victoria?
I know Patrick is due to come in soon but what about others?
So yeah I’ll go first. Yes. We’re actually based in Victoria so we’ve started in Geelong and then sort of expanded from there. So yeah. Very much Victoria’s our calling, first port of call.
Yep. Green Caffeen? Go for it Martin.
Yeah. We’ve got 750 cafes throughout each state and territory in Australia. We have a café finder built into our app so you can easily open that up and see which café’s rocking Green Caffeen. Next week we’re actually down in Melbourne as we’ve just partnered with Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. So we’re hoping to get a heap of cafes on board in there too. We partnered with Bendigo Council. So we’ve got quite a big footprint in Bendigo. If you look on the café finder you can see which cafes it’s available at.
Sure. Anyone else would like a take or I can move on to the next question.
Yeah. I can add to that as well. I think currently we have about 540 cafes in Australia, over 1,000 globally. And again we have a café finder on our app so you can just jump on to the app and have a look at where we are. But any other questions about how we can service you just reach out. Partnership@huskee.co.
Thanks. So one other question is how council can partner with this process. Could anyone just give a very, very quick brief answer to this especially looking at the council partnerships?
I can talk about cities.
Yep. Or shire.
Yeah. So we partner with councils around Australia. It enables them to offer their local cafes in their LGA a sustainable solution to single use coffee cups. And it’s great for us because it enables them to offer the cafes a sustainable product that will actually save them money by using Green Caffeen or using a reusable. So like I mentioned every time a reusable cup gets used they’re saving 20 to 30 cents on a single use cup.
We’re also starting to partner up with some councils as well and I guess the difference with our particular product it keeps tally of how many cups, whether it’s a venue’s saved or from a council perspective. They can keep a council tally of exactly how many cups they’ve saved as well.
Because each time you use the cup obviously it’s got that NFC reader which then tallies the total. We’re finding the same with universities as well and hospitals and office buildings as well.
Cool. Thank you.
Q: Are there any concerns of traces of different milk that might be allergen for some people?
I’ll pose this question to Patrick.
Yeah. I just typed a really quick reply to that. So we’ve washed personally 45,000 cups and our network has washed over 75,000 [0:40:02]. The average commercial dishwasher is sufficient to sanitise the cups. They need to get over 65 degrees. In New South Wales we tend to wash them at 80. It does a much better job. We find that we do need to pre-clean. Washing is actually a huge burden that we cannot escape from the fact of how hard washing reusable cups are. And I don’t believe it delivers a net cost saving to a lot of cafes because actually if you add up the time it takes them to wash a couple of hundred reusable cups it’s going to take them a couple of hours using their current facility. So I do believe we get to efficiencies of scale with bigger systems. But yes washing cups is hard work. We find that for our cups we need to give them a pre-rinse with a mechanical washer and then put them through the commercial washer to sanitise them. And in terms of traces of milk we’ve never had any problem with that. We do have a problem with turmeric. People who have turmeric lattes. You probably find this with the Huskee and Green Caffeen cups. Turmeric can be a nightmare for staining cups.
Thanks Patrick. This is a question for Huskee.
Q: So what happens with the Huskee cups at the end of life? Are they composted product of husk and plastic?
Yeah. So the Huskee cup product is a composite and like I said we have the Huskee loop program. So cafes and businesses, even corporates, they have a collection system where it gets all shipped back to us. We take that and we process it in-house in Sydney. It gets ground down into product and then that product is remoulded into the Huskee dog bowls. So a lot of the claims of 100% recyclable, this isn’t kerbside recyclable. Most of these cups are not. As a response for that is that we’re making sure that we actually collect them and do something with them.
Thanks Chad. And this is a question for all of you but I’ll just ask in general.
Q: So do the council buy all the cups or the café buys it?
I’m sure we have outlined in the presentation and also please feel free to reach out to each organisation. But do the council buy all the cups? Does the council purchase cups for the local cafes?
I can talk to my partnership model. So our partnership model depends on the scope of what the council wants to do. We don’t actually recommend that the council buys all the cups and provides a free program. The problem with a free program is that there’s no incentive for the cafes necessarily to implement it and they haven’t invested into the process. So there’s a constant ongoing need to re-educate and reinvest. The Huskee program, you can subsidise it. So you help them get their initial float. But the Huskee partnership program makes sure that they have ongoing revenue from cup sales which is a motivator and also as they go you’re just helping them to start the process and we will help the councils with all the engagement materials and uptake initially. But then it starts to run itself.
Thanks Chad. This is a question for Bill.
Q: Are the Skip Zero cups recyclable at the end of life given the NFC reader or can they be returned to Skip Zero for recycling?
Yeah. So the good thing about having the chip in there we know exactly when the cup’s required at end of life. They’re 100% recyclable. So what happens is they pull apart, the chip comes out and then 100% crushed and repurposed, so for things like coffee trays and other plastic products. So we work quite closely with Uppercup and they facilitate that for us.
Thanks Bill. And this is a question for Patrick. Sorry. Just had moved somewhere.
Q: Have you guys done any formal research or have you received any informal feedback as to why your system works and what is the incentives?
Yeah. Great question. So just recapping on the presentation we specifically focus on office buildings and busy office buildings, cafes just outside, café inside. We’ve been running for over a year in one of our main buildings. We’ve had 45,000 uses. We’ve had a few hundred cups go missing over that time including the ones currently on my desk. That’s resulted in a 99.6% return rate. And when we’ve looked at that data and compared it to other systems with published data around the world it actually is higher than – if you look on Club Zero which is a return system with an app much like some of the ones we heard on the call today over in the UK, our return rate is currently higher than that with no tech. So we’re tapping into a social pressure within office buildings that’s really, really key. When we surveyed the users of these buildings they gave us some really interesting clues to why they didn’t walk out of the building with the cup. Number one some of the people said they thought it was tracked. Number two they said ‘I don’t need to take it because I know it’s going to be here tomorrow’. And we just generally believe you make it as easy as it is to put a reusable cup back ie in our drop box then it’s easy for people just to put it back than to walk out of the building with it. So quite simply it’s just all social and it works.
Thanks Patrick. And there’s a question that I have been actually waiting for.
Q: Any COVID concerns especially with the BYO cups?
Henham any thoughts?
Certainly from my perspective it’s taken a long time for people to switch back. And I think with that what I’ve noticed it requires a lot of patience and gentle persuasion that I don’t think you can sort of brow beat people into changing their habits and I don’t think the whole guilt trip is going to sort of work the same way it did. I think everyone’s had more pressing priorities with regards to mental health situations, employment opportunities and the like. So I think it’s a challenging time to get back into it. I guess what I am encouraged by is sort of the enquiries that I have had and when I have been sort of seeing people out using it that there’s still – what I’m trying to say is there’s a slowly changing move back but I can’t speak for everyone else. But certainly from my experience it’s a slow build back up into getting people re-engaged.
Thanks Henham. So yeah thanks everyone for your questions. If you have any further questions please feel free to unmute and ask. But we have developed some of the communication posters and hope these posters will help you to communicate and encourage the uptake of reuse. I’ll just post that link in the chat.
So if you’re a council we do have a special council’s pack on which you can put a council logo, or a university, feel free to put a university logo on it. And they are designed for different settings such as bubble tea or cafes etcetera. I’ll just share my slides again.
So these posters are ready to download and print and good to go. And now our plastics team leader Jean will outline the circular economy’s reuse pilots grant. This is the next round. Welcome Jean.
Hi everyone and thank you for those quick snapshots from all the different businesses and all the different offers that you’re providing. It’s really good. And some of the questions not all organisations got answers to. We’ll follow up with the organisations and put those on our website and hopefully support those who are interested in these different reuse models.
So today I am very excited to provide details on round two of the Circular Economy Reuse Pilots Fund. So some of you may have heard about or even applied for round one of the fund which closed in July and we provided five organisations with funding to implement reuse systems that replace and reduce single use plastics that are to be banned from the 1st of Feb next year. The successful organisations are published on our website so we’ll send the link with our post-event email if you’re interested to know more about those projects.
But this morning I want to provide an overview of the fund. So once I do feel free to ask questions or recommend you can have a look at the guidelines and send through any questions to our Grants Enquiries email once you’ve had a further read.
So this is a negotiated grant. So the link is not publicly available on the SV website like other SV grant programs. So we send the link directly to organisations we think may be interested in applying. So post this event we’ll be sending the link to the application and the grant guidelines to all registered attendees for today’s masterclass and if you do know any organisations you think may be interested in the fund we’re very happy for you to pass on that link to that business.
So round two of the grants are for piloting reusable solutions. So we’re focusing on takeaway single use coffee cups and takeaway food containers as well as the items included in the single use plastic ban that Brij mentioned earlier. The grants are between $15,000 and $50,000 and applicants must contribute at least $1 for every $4 funded. So as an example if you request a $40,000 grant from SV you must contribute $10,000. And the co-contributions can be either financial, so cash, or in-kind or a mix of both.
So organisations that are eligible to apply for the fund include a business that provides a reasonable service, for example the businesses you’ve heard from today, businesses that provide a takeaway food service such as restaurants or cafes, businesses that own a premise where small to medium food retailers operate such as office building managers or owners, or organisations that provide economic support to food serving businesses such as local governments, Chamber of Commerce or Traders Association.
The fund is designed to increase the uptake of reuse solutions and collect data that informs the feasibility for future intervention for reuse. So we really want to understand what works, what needs further support from an SV perspective as well as others who are kind of in the market for providing reasonable solutions. So this program is looking to support street precincts with restaurants, cafes, bars and takeaway food shops as well as food hall settings such as shopping centres, hospitals, office buildings or permanent markets. Basically anywhere where hospitality businesses are using single use plastics to serve their customers.
And funding is available for infrastructure that enables the reuse system such as purchasing reusable cups or food containers as well as for signage, project promotion and data collection. So applicants need to provide details on how the reuse system will be operational ongoing. So these are pilots but we obviously want to see them continue into the future. So we’re really keen for applicants to provide that detail on how they see these systems being managed ongoing. So applications open as of today so we’ll send through the information. And quite a tight timeframe to submit but applications close midnight on Monday the 31st of October. So we’re aiming to notify successful applicants in December and then projects would need to report on your pilot results by the 3rd of July next year.
So that is the spiel of the Reuse Pilots Fund. We’ll definitely send more information. We’re very excited about it and we are available to talk about your project proposal. So you can send an enquiry which we’ll send the details through after this event. But you can send an email to Grants Enquiries and then Brij or I can follow up and have a chat about your project proposal as well. Yes. So that is our Reuse Pilots Fund. If anyone has any questions now or you can ask them at a later point.
I’ll hand it back to you Brij.
No worries. Thank you guys. Any questions? Going once, going twice. Right. So there is a question.
Q: Does infrastructure include washing facilities?
Yes. So we do have inclusion of commercial dishwashers. That kind of infrastructure that enables washing is included.
Q: Will there be only five offered for this time round as well?
Pending on number of applications and the request for funding. So to be confirmed basically when the applications are received.
Thank you all so much for your questions. If you have any more questions please feel free to send it to us. Our email address is email@example.com. And also we would love for you to fill out a survey. It’s a very quick survey. It should take less than three minutes. I’ll just pop a link in the chat here. And this survey really helps us to organise more future masterclasses. And that would be all. So thank you all so much. Thank you all to the presenters especially for taking time out and presenting the amazing information and insights into the coffee cups. And thank you for all the attendees for your questions and your participation and hope you all have a wonderful day. Thanks all. Bye bye.
Thank you very much.
[Closing visual of slide with text saying ‘Thank you’, ‘f @SustainVic’, ‘T @SustainVic’, ‘in Sustainability Victoria’, ‘Sustainability Victoria’, ‘Victoria State Government’]
For more information on businesses who are making the change, see Success stories - Reuse Champions.
This webinar informs Victorian local governments about the single-use plastics ban and how they can support local businesses and the community with this transition.
In this webinar, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning presented their SUP ban resources and activities. Sustainability Victoria (SV) presented key findings from engagement with hospitality businesses across Victoria.
SV also highlighted resources available for councils and businesses supporting reusables. Interstate presenters from the City of Adelaide and ACT Government discussed their SUP ban implementation strategies and shared key learning.
Single-Use Plastic Ban for Councils
Thursday, 1 December 2022
Project Advisor, SV
Team Leader, SV
Program Lead, DELWP
Team Leader Communications Strategy, SV
Resource Recovery Advisor
Waste Avoidance Officer
[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Welcome to the Single-use plastic ban for council webinar’]
All right. Welcome all. Great to see you. Welcome to the Single-Use Plastic or also known as SUP Ban for Councils webinar. And we are so thrilled to see you all again. Some of you may have attended our previous sessions, especially the masterclass session. Usually at the end of the masterclass we send out a survey and there is a [0:00:26] team that do the council [0:00:28]. So you asked and we delivered.
So my name is Brij Parmar and I’m from Sustainability Victoria. And today’s session is all about Victoria’s single-use plastic ban and also we have put together some of the comms material for you that you can use to communicate with your stakeholders and your cohort.
So I would like to commence today’s session with an acknowledgment of the country. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands upon which I’m based today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation and pay my respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. I acknowledge the deep connection to earth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their invaluable contributions to our understanding of climate change and the environment. And I also pay my respect to the traditional custodians of the lands from which you are joining us today. And according to the Wurundjeri calendar of seven seasons we are transitioning into Gunyang season today.
So today’s agenda. First we have DELWP’s presentation, so the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. We have Program Lead Mark Chicoine presenting from DELWP. Then we have SV. No bias there. But we’ll be presenting. I’m also joined by our Single-Use Plastic Team Leader Jean Young and Strategy Communication Advisor Nicole Muir. And then we’ll be hearing from two esteemed colleagues from interstate, Nicole Gshwind from the City of Adelaide and Marianne Ching from the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra.
Just a couple of housekeeping. We will make all the slides available for you so don’t worry about screenshots and things. We will make this available so you can just sit back and relax. This webinar is recorded and we will publish it on our website. So if you have to leave early or if the internet drops out or anything don’t worry. We have you covered. And it will be great if you could put your questions in the chat during the presentation. I have allocated 15 minutes towards the end for Q&A.
So without any further delay I welcome Program Lead Mark Chicoine from DELWP. Welcome Mark.
Thanks very much Brij. My share button is not lighting up on my screen here.
Give me a second. See if it lights up now.
It does indeed.
I’m getting there.
Probably good there are still people joining.
There. Can everyone see that?
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘What does the single-use plastic ban mean for Victorian councils?’, ‘Mark Chicoine’, ‘1 December 2022’, ‘Victoria State Government’]
Yep. Thank you Mark.
Excellent. Good. So good morning everyone. I’m Mark Chicoine from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and I’m here to share some information with you about the single-use plastic items ban which is upcoming on the 1st of February and what it means for councils and your local communities. I’m going to zip through this fairly quickly because I’ve got a fair bit to cover.
Firstly a bit of context. The single-use plastic items ban is part of the Victorian Government’s circular economy policy Recycling Victoria, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with, may have even read. In a circular economy products are designed to be repaired and reused and then recycled at the end of their life. This means that materials are used more efficiently and we reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill and importantly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in our environment and causes harm.
Now Victoria’s transition to a circular economy is being guided by four goals spanning the lifecycle of materials and those are up on the top right hand corner of that slide, which are make, use, recycle and manage. Now each goal’s designed to maximise value and minimise waste in ways that are safe for all Victorians.
So the first goal, design to last, repair and recycle is about generating less waste in businesses through innovation using recycled materials and products and consider the impacts across product lifecycles and to support business to explore new circular economy business models.
The second goal is using products to create more value which helps people make smart purchasing decisions and extends the life of products, supports the reuse economy, repair goods where possible, reduce plastic pollution and phase out problematic single-use plastic items which is where our regulations and upcoming ban come in.
The third goal is about recycling more resources, reforming kerbside collections which I know councils are acutely aware of, to generate more value from waste, improve the separation of recyclable materials, plan for and boost investment and recycling infrastructure, embed the waste hierarchy in the management of materials and support the development of appropriate waste to energy facilities which are starting to come about.
The fourth goal is about reducing harm from waste and that’s essentially about protecting communities from hazardous waste and high risk sites. Now the Government has set four ambitious targets across the bottom of the slide to measure our progress against those goals. Firstly there’s currently too much waste going to landfill. By 2030 we want to divert 80% of waste from landfill with an interim target of 72% by 2025. We’re also importantly wanting to avoid creating waste in the first place and that’s about cutting the total waste generation by 15% per capita by 2030. Thirdly we want to capture a larger volume of food and organic material and have organic waste as entering landfill by 2030. And the Government will provide – and this is starting to happen in councils across the state with access to separate food and waste organics recovery service – the red lidded bins, the green bins, or alternatively a local composting by 2030.
And this is why we’re taking action on single-use plastics. Plastic pollution harms health, harms our wildlife and the environment and we’ve all seen it in our parks, waterways and beaches. We know that single-use plastics can be a problem. They make up about a third of Victoria’s litter causing harm to the environment and they’re also very costly to clean up and difficult to recycle. They’re a poor use of resources. They’re often used only for a few minutes and generate significant waste that is not recyclable. They’re also difficult and economically unviable to recycle but they often end up in the recycling stream contaminating the recycling. Single-use plastics can often be avoided or replaced with reusable products and with less litter. The risk to human health and the environment can also be reduced.
So from 1 Feb these are the problematic single-use plastic items in the ban for sale and supply across Victoria. So we’re talking about single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers and cotton bud sticks. And this includes all types of plastic. So conventional, degradable, compostable, such as bioplastics, as these are all harmful to the environment when littered. The ban also applies to EPS food service items and drink containers, so your foamy clamshells and cups.
The ban applies to all businesses and organisations including all levels of Government, so state and councils. Importantly plastic items will need to be reusable to be sold or supplied in Victoria. This means they will need to be manufactured to be used on multiple occasions and come with a warranty or some sort of similar declaration that they will last for at least one year. This will ensure that any items are durable and can be used on an ongoing basis, so truly reusable.
The regulations that ban the items were approved back in September and will be incorporated into the Environment Protection Regulations as Division 2 of Part 5.5 which follows the bag ban provisions for all of you regulation nerds.
Now all forms of plastic are harmful when littered which is why the ban includes conventional as well as compostable biodegradable, and it includes items with composting certifications. So for councils the most likely places that these items would pop up – and I’m sure you’ve seen them around your buildings and facilities – are council town halls and civic centres, particularly kitchens and lunch areas, leisure centres and swimming facilities that have food service or vending, community centres and halls, child care or aged care support services as well, council festivals and markets and sporting pavilions.
Cotton bud sticks may also be used in some council support services including environmental public health units. So councils purchasing these items in the future even if you don’t think that they contain plastics you should ask the supplier to confirm in writing that they’re not even partly made of plastic, because the definition also includes partly made.
Certainly it’s best to avoid single-use plastic items completely where possible. Consider if you really need to keep supplying or providing these single use plastic items at all. Preference reusables such as metal, ceramic or bamboo. You can also use reusable plastic items that have been manufactured to be used on multiple occasions and should only be used in instances where you would ordinarily use them repeatedly. So organisations using reusable items may consider having a system in place such as a closed loop system where items are owned by a business or organisation and they’re collected for washing and reuse, or an open loop system where items are owned and reused by an individual or a combination of the two. So for example plastic items provided by takeaway shops, food courts or food trucks should be accompanied by a readily accessible facility for customers to return the items for washing and reuse. Some music festivals I’ve noticed are starting to do that now.
If a business or organisation does not collect items for washing and reuse it’s certainly likely that these items are only going to be used once and alternative items should be used in these instances. And for single-use alternatives if you do need disposable alternatives consider responsibly sourced paper, wood or bamboo.
The regulations were finalised based on feedback, some of which we received from councils during public consultation which was back in April and May of this year.
And the ban’s been designed in a way that balances the needs of Victorians with environmental outcomes. So the regulations provide some limited exemptions where single-use plastic items can continue to be used. So not all of these will impact councils but nonetheless I’ll touch on them because they’ll be useful for you to know. Cutlery will be exempt in certain settings where they’re needed to prevent physical harm or injury. So the regulations provide an exemption for cutlery used or intended to be used by a mental health service provider or premises or in correctional, police or youth justice facilities for the purposes of preventing any physical injury or harm. Now this exemption has been provided as cutlery as you could imagine from alternative materials such as metal and some reusable items can pose greater security and safety concerns in some settings.
Straws for people who require them due to disability or for medical reasons. This exemption is a recognition that single-use plastic drinking straws offer specific characteristics that are not offered by other materials. They’re soft, they’re bendable, flexible and they can be positioned. Now these are some of the most important characteristics that people who rely on these items need to eat and drink. And it’s not a preference for many individuals. It’s a necessity to have these drinking straws.
So what might this mean for councils? Councils will still be able to purchase single-use plastic drinking straws and provide them to those in the community who need them particularly regional councils may consider selling straws to those in the community who genuinely need them, as many retailers we’ve seen already such as supermarkets will no longer choose to sell single‑use plastic drinking straws. These straws must not be freely available in public areas, staffrooms or to persons who do not require them. Straws made from any alternative materials can be provided in these instances.
For cotton bud sticks the regulations provide an exemption for single-use plastic cotton bud sticks to be used in testing carried out for scientific, medical or for forensic or law enforcement purposes. This is due to the stable nature of the plastic stems and the hygienic benefits that plastic provides.
Plastic allows a sample to be collected, transported or tested without becoming contaminated or deteriorating in any way. This may be relevant for councils if single-use plastic cotton bud sticks are being used in environmental public health units, enforcement units for example, or in other areas and can continue to be used for testing purposes if they’re currently used. Alternative items obviously will need to be identified if they’re being used in other areas of councils. The exemption allows cotton bud sticks to continue to be used for PCR and rapid antigen tests. We often get that question.
Paper and cardboard plates. There’s an exemption for these until 1 November 2024. This aligns with the New South Wales ban as well. As well as any items that are pre-packaged by a machine on to food or drink packaging, they’re exempt until 1 January 2026. So things like the little plastic straws that are attached to juice boxes. This will allow the industry time to shift to alternative materials and processes.
Finally I’d like to touch on how you can prepare for the ban from 1 February. Certainly use up any stocks of these items that you have kicking around councils and have a discussion with suppliers or whoever does procurement or purchasing at your council to find suitable alternatives that meet your needs. And again a reminder that compostable and bioplastic items are also going to be banned so don’t entertain buying those at this stage. Understand if you need to use banned items for the exempt circumstances or if there are other materials that you can use instead.
Our team of course will be around to help with any queries or concerns that you might have. You can get in touch with us through the sup.policy@delwp email. There’s a heap of resources available on our website. The final regulations are there. There are business resources. There’s a fact sheet. There’s a guide. There’s translated resources that we hopefully will have up this week, signage. Free information sessions are being run by the National Retail Association every Friday at 11:00am for businesses. Certainly promote those through your economic development teams, to local traders associations and business groups.
NRA is also doing face to face engagement which I know a few councils have contacted us enquiring about that engagement. They’ve done upwards of over 1,700 businesses at this stage and are continuing to roll that out until the ban comes into place.
Thank you very much. That’s all I have.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Thank you!’, ‘Sup.firstname.lastname@example.org’, ‘Victoria State Government’]
Thank you Mark. Thank you for your wonderful presentation. And just speeding to the next one, our next one is us and we are going to talk about some of the reuse and some of the pilots. So let me just get my screen up.
So at SV re-use has been always a big part of our program. We have invested in pilots, so the Circular Economy Reuse Pilots Fund, to support Victorian food service businesses to implement waste avoidance and reuse options and through this pilot we are collecting data that will inform other businesses on the feasibility of the reuse in different hospitality settings. We are keen to see what kind of reuse solutions are scalable in the hospitality sector. So round one we focused on the banned items, to also focus this on coffee cups and takeaway containers. So I can see in the chat there’s a bit of a discussion going on there. Currently we are finalising the round two, so we will publish some more details when we have finalised the contracts.
Next up is Jean, our Single-Use Plastic Team Lead Jean, and Jean is going to highlight some of her business engagement activities.
Thanks Brij and good morning everyone. So I am just going to provide a bit of an overview of some of the data that we have been collecting through our face to face business engagement program. So we’ve engaged three contractors to deliver engagement across three Victorian regions and basically this involves walking into hospitality businesses to tell them about the single-use plastic ban and collecting data through a survey.
So engagements commenced from the 22nd of August and will be complete in the next week and our target was 3,250 businesses across 31 LGAs. Next slide Brij. So so far we’ve exceeded our target and engaged 3,265 businesses and seven out of ten are willing to participate in the survey and talk to our contractors on the ground. We found the highest use of to be banned SUPs is cutlery and straws which correlates with our Victorian single-use plastic consumption data.
So in terms of awareness we’ve found that 40% of businesses had not heard about the single‑use plastic ban before so early engagement has been really important. But despite the high lack of awareness of the ban about 70% of businesses are already taking action that will prepare them for the ban. So they’re already not using the single-use plastic items or they have stopped ordering SUPs etcetera. Next slide.
So as Brij mentioned increasing reuse across the hospitality industry is a key focus for SV and we want to understand current uptake and what the barriers are for SMEs who may not accept reusables. So we found 40% of businesses have no barriers to accepting reusables which is great. For 20% of businesses their customers just don’t bring their own items. And concerns for COVID safety and not being clear on the health regulations for accepting reusables was rated low as a barrier which is also good news. We’ve also found that around almost 60% of those surveyed are interested to learn more about reusable options for their business.
So here’s the breakdown of the number of businesses engaged per local government area across the three regions that our contractors have been in. So it’s quite small but it kind of gives you an overview of the number of businesses per local government area.
So for us we’ve engaged the LOTE Agency who specialise in culturally and linguistically diverse engagement and they are targeting business precincts and local government areas with a higher percentage of CALD business owners and staff across metro Melbourne. So they’ve employed 17 business engagement officers that speak over 18 languages to engage directly with SMEs. So I was recently out with the LOTE team in Glen Waverley where out of the 11 businesses that we visited two of the engagements were in Mandarin and five in Cantonese. So it was great to see I guess on the ground that that approach has been effective in communicating the SUP ban. Of the SMEs surveyed so far Mandarin is the highest preferred language followed by Vietnamese and Cantonese.
And our data says that local councils – which I’m sure won’t come as a surprise to you – that local councils are the greatest source of information for hospitality businesses finding information that impacts them. So I guess that’s why today is a really important session and fantastic to see so much interest from LGAs joining today. And then finally in terms of concerns about the ban we found about 50% of businesses surveyed aren’t concerned. The greatest concern is additional costs for packaging which supports our focus of trying to encourage uptake of reusables and waste avoidance where possible.
So that is a snapshot. We’re more than happy to talk with any local governments who want further insights into some of our data. But that’s it from me and I will hand it back to Brij. Thank you.
Thank you Jean. So to help businesses transition to waste avoidance and implement reuse we have published a few case studies. These case studies capture a range of perspectives and give easy to follow tips for businesses to be more sustainable. Through engagement we found that many businesses do want to be more sustainable and need a bit more information on how they can take some action without doing a massive system change. And hopefully your examples and these case studies really guide them to be more sustainable.
We are going to publish more of these. Currently we have nine and we are also looking for more recommendations. So if you have any recommendations or know any food serving businesses that are doing an awesome job at avoiding waste or implementing reuse, promoting bring back containers, please let us know in the chat or through email and we’ll definitely reach out to them.
As Jean mentioned earlier in the reuse data slide many businesses are willing to accept customer bringing their own containers or BYO containers and would like to learn more about it. So we have designed some communication material, especially the posters. I will go a bit more into the details. We have council special assets which I’ll just take you through in a bit. And these are in design files so you can download them and edit them and put your council logo on it.
Just before I go into it just quickly touching on why businesses should accept reusables. I think it’s really important to kind of communicate to the business community because it normalises this whole concept of circular economy. We all have some reusable containers at home and most of us can easily have our next takeaway meals completely plastic free. So for business it’s very cost effective. Many businesses are implementing reusable containers with their own branding on it such as coffee cups or takeaway containers or using Returnr and other schemes.
So because of this many businesses have reported that the customer loyalty has increased because they share the same environmental values. It reduces the waste. You often see the bins outside the takeaway food shop completely full of packaging material so this will definitely help businesses reduce waste. And they can have free advertising. There are many plastic free movements such as Plastic Free Places, BYO Containers, Responsible Café and many more. I could just name a few. I know some of the councils have run some fantastic plastic free places programs. So for businesses often these are free to sign up and they can have free marketing.
And I’ll just show you where these resources are on our website. So let me just stop sharing and I’ll take you through our website.
So if you go to our Home page, reducing the waste in a business and single-use plastic ban, this is where all of our resources and our program findings sit. What it means for a business, ready for the ban. These are the success stories, the case studies and the communication resources are here.
These posters, business posters are here. They are designed for businesses to use. So they can just simply download and use them. We have designed for context special, so they are special for food and offices and café, bubble tea, especially the juice and the smoothies. We welcome reusables. This is really the pièce de resistance of all the posters. It has been really, really popular. We have given out hundreds of these.
If you just go a step back here we have all the additional languages here. So at the top it says what it says in English but we have we welcome reusables in total in 11 languages. And here you can download all the council posters and council assets. So these are [0:28:12] and you can get the communication team to edit them and share in your municipality.
If you just go at the top and here this is one of our current assets and that link will lead you to all of our assets on SV. So that includes detox your home, state-wide campaign of SABI which is small act big impact. That campaign especially focuses on household and we have heaps of assets. So you can take your time to go down this rabbit hole.
And next one is Nicole Muir and Nicole is going to explain our communication pack. So I’ll just share my slide and give me just a moment. And welcome Nicole.
Thanks Brij. Yeah. So my name’s Nicole Muir and I’m from the Strategic Communications Team here at Sustainability Victoria. So Brij is sharing the – well we’ve developed a simple and hopefully easy to use communications pack for your council to share this campaign with your local businesses and community who will be affected by the single-use plastics ban. We know that businesses will turn to council for leadership as an authority on this issue so it’s really important for information about the ban to be on your channels and communication platforms around the organisation.
So the first step – well we’ll go through this a little bit if you like, so what’s in the pack. There’s just some basic information here. We highlight the target audience, there’s sample text that you can use on your website or email marketing or social media channels. So the first step is to engage your communications team to let them know about the ban and about this campaign. They’ll be best placed to roll out the campaign. They’ll know how to tailor this pack and the information for all your different council platforms and to talk to the relevant audiences.
So the pack includes basic details about the ban, the audience as I said, the sample text. It links to those materials that Brij was just sharing on screen before that are on our website so you can easily download all the posters. There’s also masterclass videos that can be embedded on your website to help educate hospitality businesses in the area. You can cut and paste the case study information, anything. The comms team will know how to roll it out.
We’ve also got an example of a social media post there just to demonstrate how your council can showcase businesses in your area already doing amazing things. So they can really just tailor it so that it’s relevant content for your local community.
So yeah, look that’s it. Anyone from your comms team or anyone here today is welcome to contact me if you have any problems or want to know how to use the pack but Brij will make it available. Thank you.
Thank you Nicole. And just this comms pack is live now so if you go in to our assets library, if you go into the information toolkit, that’s where you can download the comms pack. It’s both in PDF form and Word file.
Okay. So that’s really all from us. Sorry. I’m just trying to manage a few screens here which are a moving part. So next we have Nicole Gschwind from the City of Adelaide. So Nicole Gschwind is a Resource Recovery Advisor within the Circular Economy Team at the City of Adelaide. In her current role she supports local businesses and data investigations as part of City of Adelaide’s Resource Recovery Strategy and Action Plan. This strategy provides an eight tier framework to really define the concept of waste, recover more resources and build circular economy to make the City of Adelaide the first city in Australia to achieve zero avoidable waste to landfill. She has Master of Environment degree with a specialisation in waste management from the University of Melbourne and Bachelor of Science degree focusing on soil and water science from University of Illinois at Urbanan-Champaign. I don’t know how to say it Nicole sorry. Welcome Nicole.
[Virtual visual of slide with text saying ‘Circular Economy’, ‘At the City of Adelaide’, ‘Nicole Gschwind’, ‘Resource Recovery Advisory’, ‘Circular Economy Team’]
Great. Thanks for the intro and hello everyone. As mentioned my name is Nicole Gschwind. I’m a Resource Recovery Advisor with the City of Adelaide. I am super excited to be here today and share the journey of our circular economy team.
First and foremost I would like to acknowledge that the City of Adelaide is located on the traditional country of the Kaurna people and we pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We also extend that respect to visitors of other Aboriginal language groups and other First Nations.
So I’d like to provide some context of who we are at the City of Adelaide. Our vision is to be the first city in Australia to achieve zero avoidable waste to landfill. Our new Resource Recovery Strategy and Action Plan provides an eight year framework to redefine the concept of waste, recover more resources and build a circular economy team within our city. So our team focuses on supporting our five target areas which includes businesses – that’s my role – multi-unit dwellings, internal operations, public space and residents in our community.
Within each target area we have five priority items. So that includes eliminating food waste, improving education and outreach, fostering technology, prioritising resource recovery and advocating for change in the waste space.
So here are some examples of the educational support programs we have going on at council. As you can see we have a heavy focus on diverting food waste from landfill across our team. So that includes ensuring that our multi-unit dwellings also known as MUDs have access to food organic bins and educational signage, connecting businesses with green organic services and promoting our free kitchen caddy and liner program. We also just launched two reuse and recycling hubs within the City of Adelaide and this was completed within a partnership with a local university to design and actually construct the hub itself. So this was a beautiful opportunity for our community to recycle and sort items that should be recycled but don’t belong in the recycling bin.
We even have some fun here at City of Adelaide. That top left photo I believe that’s on your left is a picture taken at our trash talking trivia night which was a huge success.
So I would like to provide some high level context around the policy of single-use plastics here in South Australia. And just to note that the policy was created by the State Government over at Green Industries SA. Our role at council aims to help businesses and community with the transition and beyond. So in September 2020 the South Australian Government passed the Waste Avoidance Act which was a really positive step towards avoiding waste. So from March 2021 the Act prohibited the sale, supply and distribution of drinking straws, cutlery and beverage stirrers. From March 2022 the regs expanded to include expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates, clamshell containers and oxo-degradable plastic products.
To valuate the next steps a discussion paper was released called Turning the Tide. And I absolutely love this title page. So this work aimed to collect feedback from the community and businesses about future bans. So based on this work this is what we’re looking like in South Australia for the next two years. So from 2023 we will be banning single-use plastic bowls, plates, some cotton buds and pizza savers. 2024 is going to be our big year. So we’re looking at plastic produce bags, confetti, balloon sticks, ties, bread tags, beverage containers including coffee cups and food containers.
So to build on this momentum we successfully applied for a grant through Green Industries SA to pilot a multi-bin system along our beautiful Rundle mall in the City of Adelaide. So here at council we’re all about having a holistic approach to improving resource recovery. So this approach includes a multi-bin system, a business incentive program and a shopping arcade of waste investigation. So for the bins this was aimed to encourage visitors to stop and sort their food waste, their certified compostable products and their cans and bottles. There was a lot of internal and external collaboration regarding the actual design of the bins. We wanted to focus on reducing the level of contamination in the green and yellow bins as much as possible. So we included behavioural signs and behavioural observations to ensure that the design of the bins themselves reduced contamination as much as possible.
To complement the bins we invited eligible cafés along Rundle mall to improve their waste diversion through our business incentive program. So this program had two parts. The first part was a $1,200 one off voucher to support the switch from a single-use product to a certified compostable product. And just to note that certified compostable products are allowed to go in the green organics bin in South Australia. So the $1,200 value was estimated to be around one month’s worth of a given product’s supply. We also teamed up with Plastic Free SA. They’re a not for profit organisation. They provide free guidance and tips on not only understanding what certified compostable products are and what they mean but also beyond that and talking about reusable systems, mug libraries, bringing your own containers. So their partnership was really critical in having this program take off.
The second component of the program was a $400 rebate if a café acquired a private waste contractor to include a food organics bin collection service. So how that works is I’m a café, I have contacted a private waste contractor, I said I would like to have green organic bin services. I have two months of invoices. You can apply for that rebate at that given time and then after another two months you can apply again.
The third component of the business support was in arcade/shopping centre and waste investigation. So this was a really heavy stakeholder project and included six arcades. And we really wanted to dive into the current waste systems and opportunities to reduce waste and recycle more.
So key takeaways about the bin pilot. It was more than just the bin. This project highlighted the importance of a multi-team collaboration including local and state governments, systems thinking, business engagement, activation, educational programs, communication plans. All of these components were critical to the success of the pilot. Other observations so far. The ten cent container rail has been heavily used. So I’m not sure if you saw in the previous photo we have a rail or an insert where you can just place your ten cent containers. So that system has been heavily used and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback about that. We’ve also received a lot of positive feedback through our social media with 500 plus interactions. We’ve also invited schools to do an educational workshop right on Rundle mall to learn more about the importance of recycling and sorting your food waste. So there’s a beautiful platform for these educational services and we’re really, really happy about those outcomes.
For the business incentive program this was really a boots on the ground operation. Just a lot of one on one engagement with the cafés and learning more about them and learning more about how we could help them. So we had a high participation in local, independent cafés with a 73% uptake of eligible cafés within this definition. Has not been as easy with national and international chains because they simply don’t have the power to make those purchasing decisions. So that really highlighted the importance of the Federal and State agencies to kind of play a role in this part.
The partnership with Plastic Free SA was key. As I mentioned before they not only provide excellent information on the importance of a certified compostable product but they also want to extend beyond that and talk about reusable systems and mug libraries and BYO. So it was a great opportunity to provide that one on one engagement with the cafés.
For the food organics rebate this program was not as popular. There is still that big hurdle about bin space. So I’ve noticed that it’s really important to talk about how you can reduce your landfill bin’s either size or frequency of pick up if you do add a green organics bin. And then that conversation is all about dollars and cents. So they could potentially save money if they reduce their landfill bin size because they simply don’t need it as much since all the food waste is going into the green bin.
For me other key takeaways is I was so excited to see that these cafés understand the marketing value of sustainable practices. I was expecting more single-use plastics out there but a lot of these cafés, especially the local, independent cafés, had two maybe three products that were single-use plastics. So they understand the value of sustainable practices. They understand that their customers want those products. So this program was really good just at getting them over the line of eliminating any single-use products from their circulation. There was some confusion about the lids. So they assumed that the lids were certified compostable because they purchased the cups and bowls that were. So again it was a beautiful opportunity to provide that education.
For the shopping centres we had some really good observations in that space. So half of the shopping arcades are already using a back of house food organics collection system which is excellent. We’ve also noted an 83% utilisation of a ten cent container recycling system in these locations. So based on these observations we started to identify future incentive programs aimed at reducing food waste, waste reduction incentives through reusables and those types of programs and also training opportunities for the arcades themselves.
And that’s my team and that’s all I have.
Nicole thank you so much for that. It’s a great program. And just in interest of time speeding along to the next one. The ACT Government is developing a circular economy that responds to the concerns about resource scarcity, pollution of the environment and the economic limits of the patterns of production and consumption. So from this action packed team we have Marianne Ching. Marianne Ching is a Waste Avoidance Officer within the ACT’s No Waste Team. The ACT Government is unique to other states and territories as it has responsibility for state/territory function as well as functioning as a local government.
Marianne has a Bachelor degree in marketing and in her current role she works on education side of projects such as the single-use plastic ban and the circular economy. So welcome Marianne.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Single-use plastics ban’, ‘Single-use plastics in the ACT’, ‘Everyday climate choices’, ‘ACT Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Your waste sorted’, ‘act.gov.au/single-use-plastics’]
Thanks Brij and thanks everyone for your presentations. It’s super inspiring to hear all the great initiatives happening around the country. I just wanted to give some context on what the ACT is doing I guess in the lead up to Victoria’s ban starting next year.
So in terms of single use plastics in the ACT we’ve started our ban since 2021. And so you can see there on the screen those are the items that we have banned already within the ACT. So there’s quite an overlap with what Victoria is going to ban from February next year except plates and bowls are in our next tranche. So we’re looking to ban those probably from 2023.
Within the Act the structure I guess of how we propose items to be banned to the community is to give the community about 12 months’ notice and open consultation to get the community feedback and industry feedback about the proposed items. After the consultation closes and we get the feedback our Cabinet decides which items to go ahead with and they’re confirmed in the new year. And then we start an education campaign to our businesses and other stakeholders about a couple of months before the ban starts. So I guess it is quite interesting in the ACT because we are a smaller jurisdiction, that we are a state and local council together, so we’re both responsible for creating the legislation as well as educating the community and the public about those bans.
In terms of communication strategies the biggest way of kind of raising awareness about the bans is through digital comms, printed comms or direct comms. So in terms of digital comms as we know a lot of people still use social media to get a lot of their news, so our websites, our social media platforms and sending emails to people are pretty effective. In terms of printed comms that are handed out to businesses and community groups around the ACT poster and information flyers are available. And in terms of direct comms similar to the Victoria Government we’ve contracted the National Retail Association to run online sessions and to provide face to face store visits to businesses across the ACT in conjunction with some of our other teams within the ACT to spread the word and the messaging about the ban.
So we found that the more awareness there is the more questions we get about the ban. So I’ll kind of get into some of our challenges and key learnings that we’ve had since the two years that we’ve enacted the ban.
So I guess the first challenge that we found is that businesses are continuing to use some banned items after the ban date. And there’s various reasons why that might happen. Sometimes it could be a lack of awareness or people wanted to use up excess stock or people being unclear about what the requirements are. So in terms of our learnings and recommendations to other councils and states enacting the ban giving businesses as much early notice as possible and increasing awareness, especially when the ban is proposed, just so that it’s on people’s radars. And as we probably all know a lot of businesses have a lot of stock so giving people enough time to switch away from products is really important.
As other people have mentioned earlier in the presentations today there is a lot of confusion about green washing bioplastic compostable products and what the best alternatives are in terms of what can be used and what should be swapped away from with plastics. Particularly for us bioplastics tends to be one that’s quite confusing as they’re often sold I suppose as better alternatives because they are compostable. But we know probably from working in the industry that bioplastics aren’t any better for the environment unless there’s an industrial composting facility that can process them. So Victoria I noticed is also banning bioplastics so it’s definitely one to be aware of when promoting the bans coming out to the Victorian customers and businesses.
We also found that when people or businesses hear the words single-use plastics they worry that every single-use plastic item that they might stock is banned. So providing really clear and concise information about which items are specifically banned in the upcoming ban is really important. So providing good fact sheets, providing good information on the websites, that’s really important. And we have utilised the National Retail Association’s hotline as a good resource as well because as Government we’re unable to recommend specific products which is a common question that people often want. What can I swap away to instead of using a single‑use plastic item? So by using the hotline which is not a Government-led resource it’s a way that businesses can get a really clear answer about which specific items and products they are able to use.
And as Sustainability Victoria touched on before there are a lot of business owners that are not from an English speaking background so it is really important to provide those different resources and have those options. So it’s really great to see Victoria’s already on that.
I also wanted to quickly touch on plastic free events. So it’s an initiative within the ACT that goes beyond the single-use plastics ban and encourages events to ban items beyond those that are mandated in the territory. And one of the reasons we wanted to focus on plastic free events was because we obviously are aware that there are a lot of single-use plastics items that are used at events and there are some easy swap outs in terms of those. So bowls, plates and takeaway containers particularly at events tend to be an easy item that events can swap away from. Takeaway containers, it depends on the event of course. So you can see in those pictures there that things like fish and chips or burgers, salads, it’s easy to use a cardboard-based alternative. But obviously things like curries and things like that, if they have that at the events, can be more challenging.
And we have found in the last year and a half since we’ve been doing the plastic free events program that some challenging items continue to be plastic cups because there aren’t that many alternatives and water bottles as well. Often for event safety reasons access to water is really important so banning those can be a challenge.
So for our learnings as well from plastic free events I suppose the other side of banning items is to consider where the alternative items should go in the waste stream. So providing really clear bin signage at events. We found that providing examples of the specific items above the bins, so if you have this takeaway container or this paper bowl, which bin it should go in and literally sticking that example of that item above the bin so people are clear about which bin to use can be really helpful. And particularly for us as well working with event organisers to give their vendors a lot of heads up is really important.
I think it should be getting easier in the next few years as all the states sort of get in line with the similar items to be banned but we have found that vendors coming from interstate where the rules are different can be quite a challenge.
So just in terms of next steps for single-use plastics within the ACT. As I briefly mentioned earlier we are looking at a number of new items for 1 July banning next year including plastic takeaway containers, plastic plates and bowls and heavyweight boutique shopping bags. So we’re currently doing consultation which will close in a few weeks’ time. In terms of next steps for plastic free events we’re looking at how we can do more reusables as we know that’s kind of the best way to be more sustainable. And so I know Brij previously had run awesome workshops about some sustainable alternative companies. So Reusey, Green My Plate and B-Alternative can be some great Aussie companies that are doing reusable works at events.
And yes we are looking at a circular economy within the ACT. So looking at how single-use plastics can fit into our circular economy strategy which will be released next year.
Thanks. Back to you Brij.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Single-use plastics ban’, ‘Thank you’, ‘www.act.gov.au/single-use-plastics’, ‘Email email@example.com’, ‘Call Access Canberra on 13 22 81’]
Marianne thank you so much. Sorry guys. We’re actually running a bit close to time. We are happy to stay five minutes extra if that’s okay with everyone just to go through some quick questions. And where do we start? There’s so many questions in the chat. But if I could get DELWP to kind of explain a bit more on – especially there is a lot of questions around leftover items.
Sure Brij. I’m happy to jump in. As in excess stock?
Yep. Thank you. So could you please explain what businesses can do especially when the ban is in effect and then they have excess stock left over? Thanks Mark.
Yeah. Certainly. I mean the message is certainly to use up what you have now and not hang on to it. Don’t order any new banned items.
I guess it depends on the quantity as well. If you have only a few items probably the best option is to simply dispose of them in general waste. If you’ve got boxes of it contact your supplier and see if they’ll take them back. Some suppliers will take them back on exchange depending on the items. Contact a local recycler and see if they will take it. If you have heaps of material some of the local recyclers we’ve spoken to will take these items back. Ultimately if you discover you’re just plain stuck and don’t know what to do with it get in touch with us, send us an email at the sup.policy email address or give us a call and we’ll do what we can to assist.
Thanks Mark. And also just a question from the chat.
Q: What happens with the mass produce that are SUP items? Are they just going to landfill?
And there’s also a question about the allowed items, so can they go in the FOGO bin, especially when the ban is in place and [0:56:17], especially the bamboo and those items? Which bin they should go in?
I know with our council – many councils are different, depending on what they accept – I know we’re going to standardise bins and standardise items for the bins ultimately. But at the moment it really depends on your council collection service. You probably should speak with your waste people to see what can and can’t go into your local bins. That’s probably the best advice at this stage.
Thank you. And could you please quickly touch on the EPS containers and expanded polystyrene? Especially there was a bit of confusion around the food and the meat packaging, or the EPS container that is for the food, like a fish and chip shop sort of thing. So which one is banned, which one is not banned?
Yeah. Sure. The list of items in the regulations are the only items that are banned at this stage. So if it’s EPS, your typical clamshell type food container or cup, that is banned. Other types of food containers at this stage are not banned. So it’s strictly up the line what the items are. That’s banned. Everything else is not at this stage.
For ice-cream lovers the gelato container is not banned.
Nicole could you please elaborate on mug library?
If that’s what you say.
So this is something that Plastic Free SA promotes. So when you’re out and about and your forget your coffee cup or your coffee mug some cafés here they just have either a shelf or a box that you can just grab the mug, fill up your coffee, take it back to your office, and then when you go back to the café you just drop off the mug. So it’s essentially just like a library. So when you’re out and about and you forget your mug there will be a mug there and then once you come back you return it. So they’ve had some success with those. Plastic Free SA is trying to find a way to actually add data to those processes as well. But it’s just little things like that. Because people are busy in the city. You have meetings, you have everything. Sometimes you forget your cup. So it just makes it easier just in case you do forget your cup. You can simply just pick one up, pick up your mug at the café and just return it when you come back.
I always love the saying that coffee tastes better in a mug so we try and encourage that as much as possible.
Thank you. And we have actually published one of the case studies and they were very passionate because they said that the best way to enjoy the coffee is from the unlidded cup because you get to smell and enjoy the coffee.
And Nicole did you find much contamination with the container scheme?
So we’ve had the ten cent container scheme in South Australia since the 70s so that process has been refined over time. With the bins in the public space we have folks that remove the ten cent bins, any bin, to get the ten cent refund from the system. So in order to make it easier that’s why we’re looking at that rail. So instead of people having to dive into bins they simply just need to take it from that side insert. And I love the saying that Adelaide is designed for life but it’s also designed for everyone. So we want to make it as easy as possible to get those materials sorted and out of landfill.
Yep. And next question is for Marianne and Nicole both. You both are heavily engaged with excellent stakeholders and there’s a question in the chat.
Q: How do you acquire email addresses? Do you send out an email or do people subscribe to you through newsletter or something?
So Marianne could you please shed a bit more light and then followed by Nicole?
Yep. Definitely I think getting emails can be a challenge. Probably the best way we found with engagement is obviously face to face. So I think in terms of getting email addresses from a wider group of stakeholders trying to find a community group or a community leader or community newsletter that might be able to share the message for you is also a great way. If you can’t get the direct newsletters, shopping centres for example could disperse the message out to their retailers. Otherwise engaging face to face to get those contact details can also be a good way to do that.
And just to build on that, so for the Rundle mall precinct that pilot was very targeted. So it was any café that potentially a customer would go to that café and dispose of that cup within our bin system. So we have precinct leaders. They have an existing relationship with all cafés in that area. So first and foremost we were communicating with them to get the word out to the targeted cafés. But at the end of the day I guess it was a real boots on the ground operation. Café owners are one of the busiest people on the planet. I completely respect their time. So I noticed that just kind of getting this as efficient as possible – they didn’t have time to respond to emails as much. It was more effective for me to go there, tell them what the message was, tell them what they’re eligible for and then kind of do it in a very order of operations and efficient manner. So that’s what we’ve experienced along Rundle mall.
Thank you Nicole. And again I’m truly very, very grateful for both of you especially joining interstate and thank you to DELWP for joining today. As usual we have our survey and it will take three minutes to fill out the survey so please do fill out. It’s really, really valuable to us. It really helps us to make this program better.
And if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us at Sustainability Victoria. And sorry we couldn’t go through all questions but I have access to the chat so I will put them in some format and we will try to answer the best we can.
So that’s all from me and thank you all so much. I hope you all have a lovely day. Sorry Jean any last words?
Just a quick one which I think Mark should be able to answer is just around how long the hotline will be available.
That’s a good question. Off the top of my head I don’t recall. It’s well past the ban. It’s a couple of months past the ban so it will be up and going until at least I think March/April.
Thanks. And sorry really the last one.
Q: Is there any support for regional Victoria especially the north east by NRA?
Is NRA hitting the ground there?
Yes. They’ve already been up through Wodonga and that area up in the north east. Obviously with the floods and so forth they’ve had some challenges having to turn back, driving down roads and so forth. And the last thing some businesses want to talk about is their single-use plastic forks when their business is flooded. So there have been some challenges but they have been to a number of areas throughout the north east.
Cool. Thank you Mark and again thank you all so much. Hope you have a lovely day and I will see you next time. Thanks all.
For more information, read Single-use plastics ban for councils: Questions and answers.
To view the presentation slides, visit Information toolkit.