In business, sustainability refers to doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.
Business can move toward sustainability in a range of ways including:
- Switch your lights to LED
- Install solar panels
- Draught proof your building
- Insulate your building
- Switch to GreenPower
- Turn off your coffee machine
- Install a fridge timer
- Recycle your coffee grounds
For more information on available support and subsidies go to the Zero Carbon Merri-bek website.
Finance for building upgrades
Environmental Upgrade Finance (EUF) is an option for business that want to make an upgrade to their building.
This is a long term, low interest loan to upgrade a building. Your Council administers the loan.
You must own or lease commercial, non-residential buildings in Merri-bek to apply for Environmental Upgrade Finance.
The benefits of environmental upgrade finance are:
- No upfront capital or security
- Fixed rate, long-term loan terms with low annual repayments
- The option to share costs between owners and tenants
- We collect your repayments through council rates
- Every loan is legislated to deliver a positive environmental outcome
We offer environmental upgrade finance so that businesses can:
- protect themselves from rising energy prices.
- reduce their operating costs.
- replace inefficient equipment with new technology.
- install rooftop solar PV without using upfront capital.
- lock in competitive long-term rates.
To get Environmental Upgrade Finance you need to sign an Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA). This agreement is between Council, the owner, and a lender. We are working with Sustainable Australia Fund or our Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs).
Plastic Wise for Businesses
In 2019 we developed our Plastic Wise Policy (DOC 87Kb). We want to encourage Merri-bek businesses to join us in transitioning away from using single-use plastics.
Around 40% of plastic items are discarded after being used only once. Most of these discarded plastics don't biodegrade and have a devastating impact on wildlife if they end up in our waterways.
There are many ways to reduce the amount of single-use packaging you use and supply to your customers. We have put together 2 resources with tips and advice for removing single-use plastics from your business:
- Plastic Free Food Businesses information sheet: this document provides information to help you reduce your business’s reliance on single-use plastics.
- BYO Containers information sheet: this document provides advice on how you can safely transition to reusable containers at your business. It also has the relevant requirements that need to be met under the Food Standards Code.
As part of our work supporting hospitality businesses reduce single-use plastic, in May 2022, we completed the Plastic Free Sydney Road Trial. We partnered with Boomerang Alliance who worked with 29 cafes in Brunswick and Coburg, to reduce or eliminate 7 targeted single use-plastics. Over the 14 months trial, more than 370, 000 pieces of plastic were eliminated, which is fantastic effort. Read more about the trial outcomes on our Reducing Waste page.
Victorian Government Single-use Plastic Ban
Plastic pollution harms our health, wildlife, and the environment. The Victorian Government are banning specific problematic single-use plastic items across Victoria from 1 February 2023.
- make up a third of the litter we see on our streets and in our waterways – they are costly to clean up and difficult to recycle
- are often used for only a few minutes but remain in the environment for a long time
- pollute the environment – harming wildlife and contaminating our food and water.
From 1 February 2023, the Victorian Government has banned the sale and supply of single-use plastic:
- drinking straws – these will still be available for medical or disability needs
- cutlery (including knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks, sporks, splades and food picks)
- drink-stirrers and sticks
- expanded polystyrene food and drink containers
- cotton bud sticks.
The ban includes plastic items made from conventional, degradable and compostable materials, including bioplastics.
For information on the ban including exemptions, refer to information regarding the single-use plastic ban.
To replace single-use plastic you can use either single-use alternatives (such as wood) or reusables. The following information sheets can be used to comply with the ban.
- Options to replace single-use plastic - this document provides a list of reusable and single-use options that can be used to replace the banned items
- Supplier list - this document provides a list of companies that sell alternative products to the banned single-use items.
- State Government Single Use Plastic Guide for businesses and FAQ.
- State Government Single-use Plastic Ban Factsheet
Providing customers with the option of bringing their own cup or container for takeaway items, can be a great way of reducing packaging waste and avoiding single-use plastic
Sustainable Victoria has various resources to assist your business
- re-use options for hospitality businesses
- accepting reusables and meeting food standards
- case studies on reusable alternatives
- posters promoting reuse available to download and print
For more detailed information on accepting containers and meeting the food standards code, see our BYO Food Containers Guide, in our 'Plastic Wise for Businesses' section above.
If you need information about the single-use plastic ban, in another language, State Government have provided some translations.
Languages include: Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Nepali, Punjabi, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.
Reducing waste with Responsible Cafes
Does your business worry about the impact of single-use coffee cup waste in our streets, waterways, oceans and landfill?
You can become a Responsible Cafes member, joining cafes and food businesses worldwide in tackling coffee cup waste and promoting more sustainable packaging.
Responsible Cafes is a non-profit organisation fighting the war on waste. They help businesses reduce single-use plastic and promote sustainability. They have helped eliminate 63.8 million take-away coffee cups worldwide, from littering the streets and oceans, or ending up in landfill.
We have a partnership with Responsible Cafes. This encourages local cafes and communities to reduce waste and promote reusables. Responsible Cafes provides its members with a wide range of support, engagement, and promotional material.
To join Responsible Cafes
- there is no cost
- you can join up online, yourself
- your business is placed on Responsible Cafes' online searchable map, (used 65,000 times/year)
- you can be part of future social media campaigns, promoting our Responsible Cafes' members in Merri-bek.
- you'll be doing your bit for the environment.