Single-use Plastic Policy

The following policy is targeted towards cafes/food retailers who operate in an ‘open environment’ (takeaway scenario) where there is no guarantee or control over how takeaway items are disposed of or collected and processed. In an open environment, the threat of plastic disposable items being littered or mismanaged is high, therefore Plastic Free Wollongong does not endorse the use of any single-use plastic or bioplastic product due to the potential impact they have on the environment, particularly marine and wildlife.  Plastic Free Wollongong only endorses the use of reusable items or non-plastic takeaway items.

Compostable bioplastic products

Compostable bioplastic products will only decompose in Industrial composting facilities or purpose built organic composting apparatuses (this does not include home composting units) and will not break down in marine or natural environments. Given that Industrial composting facilities are not widely available to the Australian public, a transition to compostable bioplastic products in open environments will not result in a reduction of waste sent to landfill and if littered or mismanaged, bioplastic products present similar risks to marine and wildlife (ingestion) as they will not biodegrade in the natural environment. Plastic Free Wollongong therefore does not endorse the use of bioplastic compostable single-use items. 

1. Single-use plastic water bottles

Policy: Do not supply single-use water bottles. Offer refill stations for reusable bottles/ offer house water in reusable drink ware.

Beverage containers are the highest volume litter item and present the largest source of single-use plastic entering the marine environment. Therefore whilst cafe’s and food retailers are likely to sell beverages in bottles, Plastic Free Wollongong encourages the elimination of water bottles and the use of water stations for customers to reduce single-use plastic.  

2. Single-use plastic bags

Policy: Avoid single-use plastic bags and offer/encourage reusable bags or paper alternatives. 

Cafes/food retailers should avoid single-use plastic bags including degradable and biodegradable bags. Plastic Free Wollongong endorses the use of reusable bags followed by paper bags for all takeaway options. 

3. Polystyrene and rigid plastic food ware (containers/takeaway) 

Policy: Avoid polystyrene (health implications) and rigid plastic containers 
Best alternative: Provide reusables or compostable non-plastic items (cardboard, paper) 

For the majority of takeaway food containers, non-plastic alternatives exist (cardboard packaging with no plastic lining). Management will have to manage a transition to non-plastic alternatives with hot liquid takeaway containers where cardboard may not be a suitable option. 

4. Single-use plastic straws 

Policy: Avoid single-use plastic straws and use reusable straws if required

*To manage the transition to no-single use straws, paper alternatives may be used only upon request by customers. 

*Note for takeaway options (milkshakes) reusable straws may not be a realistic option. Plastic Free Wollongong endorses the redesign of takeaway beverage containers or practices by cafe’s so that no straws are required. 


5.  Single-use plastic food ware (cutlery) 

Policy: Avoid single-use plastic cutlery and use reusable cutlery or non-plastic alternatives (wood, bamboo).

Plastic Free Wollongong does not endorse the use of bioplastic cutlery. 

For cafes/food retailers that have ‘eat-in’ options, reusable items should be used. For takeaway, cafes/food retailers should use compostable alternatives (wood, bamboo) including knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks and coffee stirrers. Given that non-plastic alternatives exist for food ware, bioplastic products should be avoided. 

6. Single-use coffee cups 

Policy: Avoid single-use takeaway coffee cups and offer/incentivise reusable cup options

Due to the lack of recycling and composting of takeaway coffee cups in public spaces, Plastic Free Wollongong does not endorse the use of any takeaway single-use coffee cup. For managers a number of initiatives can be implemented to reduce single-use coffee cups and encourage the use of reusables (Join Responsible Cafes to start reducing single-use coffee cups today!)


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