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Making your business sustainable

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.

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:

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.

Learn more about Plastic Wise Merri-bek

Victorian Government Single-use Plastic Ban

Plastic pollution harms our health, wildlife, and the environment. The Victorian Government have banned specific problematic single-use plastic items across Victoria, from 1 February 2023.

Single-use plastics:

  • 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)
    • plates
    • 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.

    Reusable items

    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

    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.

  • You can let your customers know that your business is complying with the ban, by displaying postcards and posters in your shop or business



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.

For further information, contact  or call 9240 1111.