Cafe and Take Away Resources

 

The Problem with single use plastic

 

Over 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the ocean every year, equivalent to a full garbage truck every second!  Much of that waste is single use plastic items like bags, bottles, straws, cutlery, food packaging.

Single use plastic items are used on average for less than 10 minutes and last a lifetime. Plastics can take 500-1000 years to degrade and release toxic chemicals in the process, some of which can cause severe human health problems. They never completely break down, turning into millions of micro plastics, which end up throughout our land and waterways, being ingested by marine wildlife and finally into our own food chain!

People are generally more aware today of how bad single use plastics are and their devastating and lasting impacts on the environment. Research now shows that a third of consumers choose to buy from businesses they believe are doing social or environmental good.*

It’s time to start the break up with single-use plastic!

Breaking Up is Hard to Do!

Let’s face it, breaking up with single use plastic can be incredibly difficult for café owners to do, given it is cheap, convenient and easily sourced. Single use disposable items like bags, cups that improve the shopping experience have become basic expectations.

So how does a café begin to break up with plastic?

Start where you are, with what you have!

Perhaps you as a business feel very strongly about single use plastic pollution and would like to do more but don’t know where to start?  You might be concerned with the potential negative reactions from your customers? Maybe you are concerned with the cost impacts to your business in making these changes?

Every business can only start where they are and do what they can within their control – every little bit is a step in the right direction and some change is better than no change at all.

Whether you are ready to take little steps or big strides, there is something we can all be doing to start breaking up with plastic in our lives.

We have pulled together some tips for you to consider as you look through your business and identify ways feasible for you and your business.

From removing single use plastics, promoting a reusable culture to swapping to single use alternatives, there are many simple ways your business can say bye bye to plastic!

 

 

 

What single use items do you use? 

SINGLE USE PLASTIC BAGS

Little Steps

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Even if you still use plastic bags, stop giving them out automatically.  Only give to customers if they ask!
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Start a re-useable bag bank and encourage people to drop off their used plastic and non-plastic bags to be reused.  Even plastic bags that are used multiple times are better than using them once and being discarded.
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Put cardboard boxes that your suppliers deliver stuff in for customers to put their goods in.

Big Strides

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Change your bags from single use plastic to a non-plastic or compostable alternative.
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Start selling reusable bags made of canvas or cotton.
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Put cardboard boxes that your suppliers deliver stuff in for customers to put their goods in.
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Start charging a small amount for new plastic bags.
DISPOSABLE COFFEE CUPS

Little Steps

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Put up a sign on your counter saying “to reduce the 3 Billion cups and lids going to landfill we encourage you to bring your own cup for take-away”
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Encourage customers who order a take away but don’t look in an incredible rush to take-5 and drink it in-house rather than go disposable
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Make it visual by starting a way of showing how many single use cups are being saved from landfill – using buttons, marbles, bottle lids anything in a glass jar that visualises the benefit
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Print out and post up the Better Cup Guide by Catfish Creative
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Start a fun wall display of different types of reusable cups, mugs and DIY jars

Big Strides

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Offer a discount to people who bring their own cups (such as 20-50cts off the price of their coffee). Sign up to Responsible Cafes to become part of the movement of conscious cafes, and receive free promotion, posters, listing on their website: www.responsiblecafes.org
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Offer a discount or reward for those who use BYO reusable alternatives – maybe stamp the Loyalty Card twice for a reusable cup
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Create a “Borrow a mug” scheme – customers borrow a mug or reusable cup for their takeaway and return it at a later date
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Make it fun – Offer a free coffee to every 10th reusable cups used, or have a visual count by your till on a blackboard, of the number of cups saved from landfill
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Sell reusable cups in your café
PLASTIC STRAWS

Little Steps

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Adopt a Give only upon request policy with straws.  Only give customers a straw if they ask for one
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Even if you still use plastic straws for your customers, remove them from the counter so they must first request one
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Educate customers on how problematic plastic straws are (they are not recyclable, millions used every year and end up in the ocean because they slip through the cracks) – through cool conversation starting signage

Big Strides

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Change from plastic to paper straws or other non-plastic options like bamboo, stainless steel, glass or silicone.  There are even edible and pasta straws
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Sell reusable alternatives (Boomerang bags, stainless steel straws, keep cups, mini metal cutlery set)
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Pledge to become Straw-free and remove all straws in your business
SINGLE USE WATER BOTTLES AND JUICE/SMOOTHIE CUPS WITH PLASTIC LIDS

Little Steps

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Provide tap water and reusable cups or glasses for customers to help themselves to drinking water or to refill their own water bottles rather than selling disposable bottles of water
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Put up a BIG SIGN letting customers know about the refillable water stations and recycling bins in the store
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Be creative using jars and other recycled vessels to serve in-house drinks in or even as take-away vessels for juices or smoothies. With a lid it will be resealable and not spill!
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Sign up to Sydney Water’s Tap campaign by serving tap water in your business to encourage customers to drink tap water: http://oursydneyourwater.com.au/tapcafes
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Communicate to customers to recycle plastic bottles after use – use signage, verbal communication
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Check first with customers if they are eating in or taking away, and if having in, use non disposable and washable cups or jars

Big Strides

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Change the material the take-away cups from from single use plastic to a non-plastic alternative * Note Bio-plastics made from corn or vegetable matter are complex to breakdown
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Invest in an on-tap filtered water fountain that does sparkling and still water to really WOW your customers
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Charge for a SMALL size when customers bring in their own cup or glass regardless of size of mug or cup
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Pledge to become Plastic Bottle-free and remove all plastic water bottles from your business
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Source glass drinking water bottles instead of plastic bottle
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Offer a discount to people who bring their own cups or jars (such as 20-50cts off the price of their drink)
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Stamp a loyalty stamp when a customer brings in their own cup
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Provide reusable drinking cups for people to purchase. These could be customised and even branded with your logo
PLASTIC FOOD CONTAINERS AND CONDIMENTS

Little Steps

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Check first with customers if they are eating in or taking away, and if having in, use non disposable and washable plates or bowls
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Put up signs in your shop encouraging customers to bring in their own containers for take-away
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Encourage customers with signage to help themselves to sauces, condiments and toppings before they leave the eatery to avoid single use packets
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Provide refillable containers for salt, pepper, sugar, oil, vinegar, sauce and soy sauce so customers can help themselves and be topped up as necessary
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Communicate to customers to recycle their plastic tubs and lids after use - signage, verbal communication
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Be creative with take-away food.  For example use jars for salads and soups, offer a refund for return of containers

Big Strides

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Offer an option for regular customers a sturdier re-useable container (plastic or other material) which can be returned for a deposit
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Offer a discount to people who bring their own containers, or offer more product for the same price
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Put a small surcharge on single use sachets of sauces and sushi fish, while providing free self-serve dispensers in store to give customers the choice of topping up for free in store or taking a convenience sachet for sale
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Swap plastic tubs for paper or cardboard boxes or bags, which can be recycled or will biodegrade in landfill
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Provide alternatives for people to purchase such as reusable tubs or jars
PLASTIC CUTLERY

Little Steps

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Adopt an Offer-first policy – only provide cutlery or ask customers if they would like cutlery before giving them out
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Check first with customers if they are eating in or taking away, and if having in, use non disposable and washable cutlery

Big Strides

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Put a small surcharge on take-away utensils whether they are single use plastic or not. This will make customers think twice if they really need them
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Sell reusable cutlery for people to purchase (bamboo, travel cutlery, eco friendly options
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Change to takeaway utensils which are made from compostable alternatives (card or bamboo)
SINGLE USE PACKAGING

Little Steps

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Ask your suppliers to take back and reuse packaging
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Swap to reusable silicone or beeswax covers in the kitchen instead of cling wrap

Big Strides

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Ask your suppliers to change to reusable packaging
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Try to buy essential supplies in bulk with less single packaging and return packaging to supplier for reuse
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For clean dry soft plastics collect them and deposit them in the RedCycle Bins at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets

Getting YOUR TEAM on board

 

Educating and equipping your whole team with WHY your business is saying bye bye to plastic and HOW you are planning to go about this will ensure a smoother transition and more positive experience for your business overall.

Your staff are key in not only getting behind your initiatives and making sure your change is a success, but also that it is communicated effectively to your customers. Hosting team training to make sure your team and staff are all aware of and understand any changes that you decide to make in relation to single use plastic and how to reduce it in your business will be one of the biggest keys to your success!

LISTEN TO YOUR STAFFS OPINIONS & SUGGESTIONS

Ask your staff for their opinions about single use plastic, so that all staff members’ views are heard. As the owner or manager then you must explain the changes that you want to make to the business operations and the specific ways in which single use plastic will be reduced and why you are doing this.  The reasons may be multiple – you may be passionate about caring for the environment and concerned about adding further to the problem.  It could be about ensuring that you keep and attract the sort of customers that care about plastic pollution.

DISCUSS SINGLE USE PLASTIC

First discuss with your staff either individually or in a group about the broader issues with single use plastic pollution and bring it down to specifically what it means in your business.  Have staff meetings and regular huddles to talk about the plastic pollution issue and what impact making these changes to your business will have on the environment.

DOCUMENT POLICIES & PRACTICES

Establish and document staff policies and practices – always ask customers “do you have your own cup/container etc”, do you know about our discounts for BYO? Put up signs and posters to remind your staff, especially if you have casuals and non-regulars who come in about the new practices.

BRAINSTORM CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS TOGETHER

Ask for the staff to bring up challenges that they foresee and get the group to brainstorm ways to get around these difficulties. Getting people to offer suggestions which are heard and may be adopted by the group is really effective to get buy in to the new ways of doing things.

Getting YOUR CUSTOMERS on board

Educating and equipping your whole team with WHY your business is saying bye bye to plastic and HOW you are planning to go about this will ensure a smoother transition and more positive experience for your business overall.

Your staff are key in not only getting behind your initiatives and making sure your change is a success, but also that it is communicated effectively. Hosting team training to make sure your team and staff are all aware of and understand any changes that you decide to make in relation to single use plastic and how to reduce it in your business will be one of the biggest keys to your success!

PROMOTE YOUR GOOD WORK TO CUSTOMERS IN STORE

Print out bye-bye plastic posters that spell out what steps your business is taking to break up with single use plastic and put them up in highly visible places in your shop.

This will also help staff to remember the new ways of doing things and your customers will also be able to ensure that your staff are doing the right things when it comes to single use plastic.

GET SHARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Sharing your positive initiatives towards saying bye bye to plastic are worth sharing to let existing and potential customers know what you are doing. It also helps set the bar for other businesses in the area.

Tell the story

 

  • Let your customers know about the plastic pollution problem and what you as a business are doing about it
  • Encourage your staff to talk to customers about single use plastic and the actions your business is taking to reduce it in a positive and awareness raising way
  • Make a Pledge as a business to reduce or say bye-bye to single use plastic at www.byebyeplastic.org.au
  • Post on your website and social media information about plastic pollution and your business’ commitment to say bye-bye plastic Hello BYO
  • Hash-tag #hellobyo and #byebyeplastic and post photos on your social media to influence and encourage others
  • Make a poster or sign from your Bye-Bye Plastic pledge put it in your window, on the wall or on the counter to let your customers and staff know about your commitment
  • Clip an information card on your menus explaining that your business is committed to addressing the problem and reducing single use disposable plastic in your establishment

Register here for your Business Toolkit

Bye Bye Plastic is presented by Better Business Partnership a joint council service funded by Ku-ring-gai Council, North Sydney Council and Willoughby City Council. This project is also supported by Mosman Council and the NSW EPA Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.