If you are like me – you are not yourself or capable of doing any work until you have had a coffee – or a couple of coffees every morning. However – are you like me in that you seek a zero waste cafe – or at least an environmentally friendly cafe to purchase your morning brew?


It may surprise you – but more and more people are looking for waste free cafes – or at the very least – a coffee shop that takes some effort to produce as little waste as possible.


In today’s blog – we will cover some of the things that help cafes become a zero waste cafe Melbourne – or a no waste cafe Melbourne. We cover some of the key tips – that often mean your food and drink tastes better – as well as is better for the environment -and some of the common misconceptions and challenges that businesses face.


Check out our infographic on how smart cafes can save lots of money on bins here.


Who is Waster


Waster works with lots of small and medium Aussie business such as cafes, shops, restaurants, offices etc – to boost recycling, cut costs and improve flexibility.


We provide all your required waste and recycling services through cost saving packages – so you can be an environmentally friendly cafe – and still safe money.



Can A Zero Waste Cafe In Melbourne Succeed – And What Should They Know?


The Melbourne cafe market is certainly cut throat – with high quality cafes everywhere – the CBD and suburbs. The coffee scene has even become a tourist attraction for Aussie and foreign tourists!


One of the first things to remember is that wishful thinking will not mean you recycle everything – i.e you need to make hard choices and be realistic about the recycling options available. There is a huge difference between what is “recyclable” and what can and will be recycled.


To be recycled – an item needs to be:


recyclable – in theory – i.e. the science exists to recycle it

be separated – i.e. separated from other waste

be collected – i.e. have a service available that will collect it

have a facility it will go to – i.e. many items like nappies are “recyclable” but there are no facilities actually built in Australia that can accomplish this!


no waste cafe melbourne



Simple steps deliver big benefits:

The first thing to remember is that what you buy – and how you buy will determine how much waste you produce – and simply not producing waste is much easier than recycling it!


If you buy your fruit and veg from a market or greengrocers – and meat and fish etc from a butchers etc – you will hugely reduce the amount of plastic waste you bring in.


Does the company that delivers your produce – have a low plastic policy?


Bake or cook your own food onsite – i.e. it is thus fresh every day and does not need plastic packaging – i.e. unlike in Starbucks where sandwiches etc are made elsewhere, shipped in plastic and then heated up in store.


Remember – it is much easier to reuse or recycle metal or glass than plastic – so buy produce in tins or bottles rather than plastic.


With commingled recycling in Melbourne becoming more and more difficult – with lots of recyclables ending up in landfill – we should avoid producing waste wherever possible.


Encourage people to relax and sit down – create a waste free cafe Melbourne


In Melbourne in 2019 – everyone seems to be in a rush – i.e. we have no time to smell the coffee let alone smell the roses.


You can reduce the amount of plastic used hugely – if you only serve coffee in proper cups – i.e. old fashioned cups. If you use metal or paper straws – and use proper metal cutlery – you will reduce the waste produced massively.


Basically cafe waste is produced by the concept of takeaway cups and food. Have people sit down – and see your waste reduce!


Of course – coffee and food will also taste better in proper cups and plates.


Is it possible to not offer takeaway cups – or would that kill your business? I have no idea.


Arrange sensible cafe recycling bins


Start with paper and cardboard and then commingled recycling for bottles, cans, and whatever plastic bottles you use – such as milk bottles etc.


These services such as commingled – will be cheaper than general waste. A rule of thumb is cardboard is cheapest, then commingled, then general – with organic food waste bins the most expensive – more below.


Organic waste bins or other options for food waste cafe items


If you greatly reduce plastic waste being bought – and implement cardboard and commingled recycling – the vast majority of your remaining cafe waste will be organic food waste – i.e. scraps and coffee grounds.


These can be disposed of in general waste of course – but there are a number of other recycling options.


Given space on site – you can compost or even try a worm farm. For large producers – i.e. hotels etc you may try a waste to water machine – where the waste goes down the sewer.


Otherwise – cafe rubbish bins such as organic food waste bins can be suitable. This waste is taken for either commercial composting – or for energy generation  – i.e. by using the methane emitted.


Organic cafe recycling bins – are more expensive than general waste – but you can fit much more weight in them – i.e. as they only contain food waste – and not packaging etc – they tend to be very heavy.


They are a required step to get to being a zero waste cafe.


You also need to put the effort into separating waste and recycling – a rule of thumb is that it will be more likely to go to landfill if mixed together.


Compostable cups and cutlery – a word of caution on the road to being a waste free cafe Melbourne


We have worked with a number of cafes looking at compostable cups and cutlery. These items sound great – and are very promising for the future.


We would however issue a word of caution. They may be compostable – but that does not mean they will be composted at all.


Most of the options we have looked at require to be “commercially composted over 80%” – i.e. in a commercial composting facility. The issue is that very few of these facilities exist (i.e. none in the NT at all – and none in Victoria in 2017 either according to the SMH).


When we looked in detail in Sydney recently – we found the only commercial composting facility suitable would only take council collections – i.e. a SUEZ facility – so commercial collections from businesses like cafes – would all end up in landfill.


Clearly – these compostable cups are better than traditional plastic – just be clear that there is a huge difference in “compostable” and “composted”!


Conclusion on being a zero waste cafe


It will not be easy to be a zero waste cafe – in fact it will be very difficult in 2019 – due to the sheer amount of plastic used everywhere – often for no good reason.


Also – changing customer behaviour is very tricky. People say one thing – but vote for their dollars.


However – it is a worthwhile journey – and banning single use plastic is almost inevitable in one way or another. It is really good to be ahead of the pack on this!