Between February and November 2018, participants in Boomerang Alliance’s Plastic Free Noosa program has successfully eliminated 1.4 million single use plastic items from use in Noosa, preventing a significant volume of problem plastics from ending up in landfill or as marine pollution.
Plastic Free Noosa, part of the national Communities Taking Control program developed by the Boomerang Alliance, promotes a community-led switch away from single use, takeaway plastics. The program directly engages with cafés, food outlets, events and markets, assisting them to reduce plastics through avoiding their use altogether or by substituting with reusable or 100% compostable alternatives.
“The key to our success has been the engagement with our 141-member cafés, restaurants, market and event members,” says Kellie Lindsay, Program Manager – Plastic Free Noosa. “We work directly with businesses, as well as Council, suppliers, manufacturers, composters and waste operators to deliver real solutions to those businesses.
“It isn’t enough to just ask them to remove plastic,” Ms Lindsay added, “What they change to, whether it represents a viable business model for them, where they source the alternatives and where that product ends up are important as well. We address all these aspects. We do a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make it easy for businesses and events to make the switch. Plastic Free Noosa shows that by working together, a community can change its plastic habits.”
To become a member, cafés need to agree to reduce 6 key plastic items – water bottles, bags, straws, foodware (cups, cutlery, plates and bowls) takeaway containers and coffee cups/lids.
When members eliminate all of these they become Plastic Free Champions and are promoted as such in the community. The reported data is only an initial assessment, taken from the 41 Champions after a verification process with their suppliers; it does not include data from our 100 other members, so the figures are still conservative.
“We have found that all our members are keen to do the right thing and reduce plastics,” Jayne Paramor, Deputy Director of Boomerang Alliance, explains. “We provide the information and procurement advice to make the switch easier and the results clearly speak for themselves – we are now keen to expand our program to other communities around the country.”
“We are grateful that major local events such as the Noosa Food and Wine Festival and the Noosa Triathlon took up the plastic free challenge with astonishing results,” Paramor adds. “The Food and Wine Festival diverted 5.3 tonnes of compostable material away from landfill this year and the triathlon replaced 180,000 plastic cups used by competitors with compostable ones. We even assisted in setting up a collection service to make sure the cups were composted.”
“Our program is making having a significant impact on reducing away-from-home plastic use,” Lindsay says. “It shows that a community working together can make a big difference and, with the right mix of government policy and investment support, the program could be fast-tracked right across Australia.”