Member Criteria

Plastic Free Noosa Member Criteria

When the Plastic Free Noosa program started in 2018, the initial focus was on six single-use plastic priority items.

As the most problematic and prolific sources of the litter stream, the six priority single-use plastic items were water bottles, coffee cups/lids, straws, plastic bags, foodware (cups, plates, cutlery) and takeaway containers in the hospitality sector.

From September 2021 the Queensland State Government began to take action on single-use plastic items legislating the ban of plastic bags, straws, takeaway food containers, plastic cutlery and stirrers. These bans will expand further as part of the Queensland State Government's five-year roadmap for action on single-use plastic items.

In response to the single-use plastic bans, the Plastic Free Noosa Member Criteria expands beyond the initial six items and supports additional sectors in 2023.

From March 2023, we are pleased to announce the program is continuing to work towards the elimination of plastic water bottles and takeaway coffee cups and lids, plus encourages members to work towards zero waste operations in support of the new Plastic Free Noosa Member Criteria.

Members who achieve five of the seven criteria items detailed below will be awarded and promoted as Plastic Free Noosa Champions.

ELIMINATE. Items 1 and 2

1. Water Bottles

We’re on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles

Plastic bottles form a large component of the litter stream. In the marine environment, they have the potential to survive forever. Once there, they begin to fragment into bite size micro-plastics, killing marine life that mistakes them for food.

In a developed nation such as Australia, the need for plastic bottled water is extremely low. In this context, the sale and use of single-use bottled water, which inevitably leads to littering, mismanagement and escape into the environment needs to be reduced if not eliminated.

Criteria Goals

Members are required to ditch the sale of single-use plastic water bottles and to stock more sustainable alternatives such as water in a glass or aluminium bottles or cans.

Reusables are of course the preferred option as zero waste is created from this alternative solution. A complimentary water station for the community to refill their reusable water bottle from is highly encouraged.

2. Coffee Cups & Lids

Single-use takeaway coffee cups and lids are one of the greatest pollutants in our community today. In fact, Australians consume over 2.7 million takeaway coffee cups each day, that's close to a billion every year - what's worse, this statistic is rapidly climbing!

The plastic lining in the cup means the majority of cups are not recyclable, and instead end up in landfill. If mismanaged they have the potential to end up in our oceans. Coffee cup lids are usually made of polystyrene (Plastic Code 6 PS), a particularly toxic and problematic source of marine plastic pollution. Lids often escape bins and landfill, ending up in the ocean.

Criteria Goals

Members are required to accept reusable coffee cups in an effort to reduce the consumption of single-use takeaway cups and lids. To encourage customers to ditch single-use takeaway coffee cups and lids, members should look to sell reusables and even provide a loan cup from a mug library as an alternative solution.

When purchasing single-use takeaway coffee cups and lids, members are strongly encouraged to choose from the two options below.

Certified Home or Commercial Compostable: single-use coffee cups and lids to be Home Compostable AS 5810 - 2010 or Commercially Compostable AS 4736 - 2010. Although the current waste infrastructure in Noosa does not accommodate compostables as a waste stream, compostable alternatives are still recommended alternative solutions. Compostable single-use cups and lids are not recyclable and must go into the general waste bin currently in Noosa.

Recyclable Cups and Lids: instead of sending compostable takeaway coffee cups and lids to landfill, members can become a Simply Cups Cup Collector. With custom branding available, Simply Cups provide cups and lids, a Cup Collector and depending on the business needs periodic collection on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis can be organised - collected used cups and lids are then upcycled! Plastic Free Noosa Champions Entity Coffee in Sunshine Beach is a great example of a successful Simply Cups Cup Collector.

The use of single-use takeaway coffee cups and lids in a dine-in setting is strongly discouraged.

Encourage. Items 3 to 7

3. Recycle waste and redeem with Containers for Change

Did you know that 26% of the volume of waste found in a commercial or industrial general waste bin in Noosa is in fact recyclable materials (2021 Noosa Council)? Depending on each individual business's waste infrastructure, this contamination could be due to the recycling bin reaching capacity before it is collected, or simply due to the team not being across what is recyclable in Noosa Shire today.

Since 2018, a state-wide container refund scheme, known as Containers for Change, has been in place across Queensland incentivising the collection and return of eligible containers for recycling, in exchange for a 10-cent refund payment. Containers for Change helps to reduce the amount of drinking containers that are littered in the environment and increases our state's recycling rate.

Criteria Goals

Members are encouraged to connect with Express Recycling Noosa, the local Containers for Change provider, to create a scheme number and organise an onsite Containers for Change collection bin. Collected on an agreed periodic basis, the funds raised by Containers for Change could support the investment into environmental improvements in your business, could be donated to a local charity or carbon offset program, or perhaps used to fund team professional development.

All other recyclable non-eligible containers should be emptied (lid either collected for local arts and crafts needs or to be disposed of into the general waste bin), crushed and placed in the recycling bin/s. To minimise contamination, members are encouraged to recycle based on Noosa Shire Recycling Guidelines and download the Recycle Mate app - a handy application to take the guesswork out of recycling in Noosa!

4. Accept reusable foodware and drinkware

The Queensland State Government's ban on single-use plastic takeaway food containers, cutlery and straws means businesses are now using recyclable or compostable food containers, hot and cold beverage containers, cutlery and straws. Good riddance to that toxic single-use takeaway plastic packaging!

Unfortunately, takeaway packaging (whilst recyclable or compostable) is still being littered into the Noosa Biosphere Reserve. We know this how? On average, at least 50% of waste collected during a Plastic Free Noosa beach clean-up is some form of single-use takeaway food or beverage container, cutlery or straws.

Criteria Goals

Encourage the community and visitors to Noosa to eliminate single-use takeaway packaging at the source and accept reusable foodware and drinkware containers, cutlery and straws. Members may choose to start small and opt to accept and encourage reusable drinkware containers only, but with the right tools and training, your business can save both money (in packaging and storage costs), and the Noosa Biosphere Reserve too!

5. Source wholesale products in plastic free or sustainable packaging

Manufacturers and distributors are listening to public concerns and are taking responsibility for their environmental impact by adopting more sustainable product packaging design solutions. From upcycled or recycled materials to replace toxic polystyrene, to choosing recyclable and biodegradable cardboard cartons and adhesives - wholesale products supplied in sustainable packaging are becoming increasingly available.

Criteria Goals

To reduce the volume of packaging waste going to the Noosa landfill, members are encouraged to review their supply chain on a periodic basis and where possible, source wholesale products in bulk sizing and opt for products featuring plastic-free or sustainable packaging.

If sending products via post to customers, members are encouraged to upcycle existing packaging waste either produced internally or even from another local business.

6. Compost organics

Food for thought...a banana peel buried in landfill can take up to two years to break down. Considering 36% of the volume of waste found in a commercial or industrial general waste bin in Noosa is kitchen and food waste (2021 Noosa Council), two years just for a banana peel is staggering! Unfortunately, when organics are not diverted from general waste and are buried in landfill, the waste has no oxygen and produces methane gas which is 28 times more potent a greenhouse gas emission than CO2. The emissions from Noosa's landfill account for 63% of the Noosa Council's total emissions.

Criteria Goals

Members are encouraged to divert kitchen waste and food scraps away from landfill and compost organics either on-site or collaborate with a community organisation or business in need of compostable organics for their permaculture garden or business services. Worm farms are an alternative option to traditional composting allowing businesses to convert organic kitchen waste and food scraps into liquid and solid fertilisers.

7. Use and provide Refillable Amenities

Single-use mini toiletries, dishwashing detergent and laundry powder in accommodation facilities are a prolific source of single-use plastic packaging waste finding its way to Noosa landfill (mismanagement can lead to litter in the environment). To break this down, a Plastic Free Noosa Champion prevented an estimated 66,000 single-use amenity bottles and wrappers from entering circulation in just 10 months by using bulk refillable solutions.

Criteria Goals

Members are encouraged to reduce unnecessary waste created by amenities and choose to source bulk refillable solutions. From bulk-sized refillable options and pump action containers to returnable packaging, members can save money and play a part in reducing unnecessary plastic packaging. The use of refillable amenities is not limited to accommodation providers - all businesses and members are encouraged to use and provide (if applicable) refillable amenities.

Get involved

Ready to go plastic free? Plastic Free Noosa helps to protect the environment by empowering the Noosa community in eliminating single-use plastics through direct engagement, recognition and facilitating circular economies.

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