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?


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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!



Zero waste restaurant: as the weekend approaches – especially this weekend for the footy finals, many Australians will be planning on meeting friends and family in their local pub or club for a drink, a game of bowls or a family meal.


Restaurants, clubs and the local pub are central to Australian life for many, and it is good news that they can really easily reduce their spend on waste management, whilst helping the environment. Many establishments are becoming increasingly focused on recycling and sustainability and often have sustainability committees – for example see Frankston RSL.


Can zero waste restaurant and pubs be possible in Australia?


It is certainly possible to really boost recycling in clubs by reducing food waste in restaurants and implementing recycling for restaurant food waste and other waste streams.


Being a zero waste restaurant is possible but will require a stringent restaurant waste management plan.


The New South Wales EPA published an informative fact sheet on boosting recycling in clubs – you can find it here. The document contains an estimate on the average composition of bins from clubs and pubs:


“Sort through the contents of a typical club waste bin and you will find around one third of the contents are paper and cardboard, one quarter is food waste and ten per cent glass .


“That means the bulk of what is being tossed out as rubbish could be recycled instead of going to landfill. By putting these materials in the correct recycling bins, your business could save money via a reduced waste collection charge and help our environment.”


“By introducing a commingled recycling program, a large Sydney club intends reducing the amount it dumps in landfill by 21 tonnes each year. The commingled recycling program allows the club to put different materials in the same recycling container. So they can combine aluminium, tin cans, paper cups, coasters, different forms of plastic bottles, newspapers, cardboard and glass in the same commingled bin instead of separating them out. The club plans to increase recycling of all these materials. It has already renegotiated its waste disposal contracts, resulting in a saving of $22,000 a year.”


The fact sheet provides an estimated breakdown of the waste streams:


– Paper and cardboard – 34%

– Glass – 10%

– Food waste – 24%

– Other – 31%

– Plastic – 1%


This breakdown really highlights the potential for pubs and clubs to increase recycling and reduce your spend.


Implementing a smart restaurant waste management plan to be a zero waste restaurant will entail implementing the easy changes first – i.e. cardboard recycling, followed by commingled recycling for bottles and cans.


zero waste restaurant food waste reduction


You can usually obtain free restaurant waste oil collection through a business such as Auscol.


The next step is to implement organics food waste solutions for your restaurant food waste – i.e. how you can reduce food waste in restaurants.


The options for restaurant food waste include:


Organic waste bins – where the food waste is taken for composting or energy generation.


Composting on site.


A worm farm on site.


A waste to water solution – where the restaurant food waste can be emulsified and emptied straight down the sewer – removing the need for organic bins etc.


Production of biogas from the food onsite – which can be used for electricity generation.


How Waster can help you be a zero waste restaurant
Waster offers all waste and recycling services such as restaurant food waste recycling (such as yellow bin mixed recycling in all major metro regions throughout Australia – through our online waste shop you can check prices and arrange low cost, flexible services for all your recycling streams and bin sizes required such as commingled or cardboard recycling.


Simply press the button below and start your journey to saving lots of money for your club. We have also published a blog post on waste services in hotels and motels and food waste disposal machines. See more detail on sanitary bins here.


Simple question for you to start our blog today – do you really think that a strategy of zero waste Australia is really achievable in the medium term – for our country or for major cities like our state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Darwin?


In this blog today we will cover the bare outline of the topic – and hopefully whet your appetite. Can your business be zero waste – or even your city in the not too distant future?


Waster is a waste and recycling business with a difference. We provide low cost bin collection services for small and medium customers in all major cities throughout Australia. You can book your required services, with full confidence of no hidden extras or additional, unexpected fees or charges. All our services are performed on flexible 30 day agreements – so you will never need to worry about roll over clauses or ever green contracts again. Book your services easily online today:


What do we mean by Zero Waste Australia?
Zero waste is an approach whereby prevention of waste is the goal – with no waste going to landfill – and also crucially no waste incinerated – so it is a pretty tough objective – when most countries fail to get above 50% of waste being recycled in 2018.


Wikipedia defines the subject as:


“Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.”


“Zero Waste refers to waste management and planning approaches which emphasize waste prevention as opposed to end-of-pipe waste management.”


Has anyone achieved it yet?


No one has really achieved it to date. Sweden sends no rubbish to landfill. But they do incinerate waste – and even import waste to burn as a green fuel.


“In 1996, Canberra, Australia set itself the goal of becoming zero waste Australia by 2010 but ultimately failed” – see article on ABC here.  This certainly was an embarrasing turnaround for our political capital.



What about the cities currently trying for zero waste?


A number of global cities have stated objectives of zero waste over the next few years. New York City is one of those – which may be surprising considering Tony Soprano is a native son!


Zero waste Australia recycling


According to Australian Popular Science: “By 2030, the city of 8 million will no longer send waste to landfills, instead recycling or composting the detritus of our modern lives.”


To achieve this objective: “the city has a number of initiatives planned to reduce its garbage load. By 2018, the city plans to expand its organics program (composting food and biodegradable waste) from serving 100,000 households to serving the entire city. By 2020, there will be single-stream recycling, a method in which all recyclables go into a single bin and get sorted out later. Other initiatives include promises to “reduce the use of plastic bags and other non-compostable waste,” “make all schools “Zero Waste Schools,” and “reduce commercial waste disposal by 90 percent by 2030.”


These systems all sound pretty smart and based on extrapolating of existing technologies – many of which are currently available in Australian waste management today.


The hard part will be implementing them across an entire city – and getting the number down to actual zero.


See our blog on how tricky it can be to recycle textiles in business waste management.




The goal is certainly a good one. However, sometimes countries or cities may be tempted to cheat and classify certain treatments as recycling – i.e. is incineration really “diversion from landfill” – well yes it is but it is not exactly recycling.


All journeys start with a single step – and you can do your part in your business. Starting a practical step by step process towards recycling is the best route – you can read more about that here.


commingled recycling cta