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Committee FOR WASTE REDUCTION

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  • Tuesday, June 30, 2020 10:22 AM | Valentina Vélez Rivera (Administrator)

    Soon, businesses all over Cairns will be proudly displaying their ‘plastic-free’ status under the Plastic Free Cairns program to reduce single-use plastic in the region.

    Plastic Free Cairns is run by peak not-for-profit group the Boomerang Alliance as the next step in achieving change away from plastic pollution, and is partnered with Cairns Regional Council and funded by the Queensland Government. Cairns is the fifth community in the Boomerang Alliance's national Plastic Free Places program and any food retail business is able to join!

    Plastic Free Cairns is a free service for all Cairns cafes and restaurants to reduce six key single use plastic items that are commonly found in the litter stream - plastic water bottles, straws, coffee/cups & lids, takeaway containers, foodware (cutlery, cups, plates, sauce or ice cream containers etc.) and plastic bags.

    “All of these items have readily available reusable or compostable alternatives - our job is to work with businesses to show them what the alternatives are, where they can source them and how to save on packaging and costs. We provide tailored packaging advice making it easy and cost-effective to be plastic free", said program coordinator Helen Reilly.  "Once they have eliminated the single use plastics we're targeting, we crown them as 'Plastic Free Champions'. 

    The program quietly commenced at the beginning of March about the same time when Covid-19 forced many cafes and restaurants to close their doors or do takeaway only. Despite the slow start, there are already 14 official members (not long reaching 20 members) and 2 Plastic Free Champions, with more than a handful of local cafes and restaurants interested in joining every week.

    The primary goal of the program is a 50% reduction in the number of identified single-use plastic packaging used by members and to sign up 100+ food outlets as members of the program in the first year, with a view to implementing a plastic free system that could be extended to include more businesses over time.  

    Blackbird Espresso Warehouse in Bungalow and Laneway in the CBD are Cairns’ first ‘Plastic Free Champions’. Upon becoming a Champion, businesses receive a unique sign that identifies them and a Champion listing on the website www.plasticfreecairns.org.

    From the first time Troy and Daniela Furner, of Blackbird Espresso, witnessed a straw lodged in a turtle’s nostril 8 years ago at Townsville’s Reef HQ, they knew that they simply just had to do what was right by the environment.

    “As a small business in a location that sits amongst one of the world's seven wonders and world heritage listed rainforest, we ourselves have the opportunity to make decisions in our own business that directly affect the natural area we live in” said Troy.  “The Plastic Free Cairns program is a great initiative for businesses to be given guidance and mentoring on where to find and how to implement plastic free products throughout their supply and set an example to other businesses in the region."

    ‘With the Queensland State Government planning to phase-out certain problem single use plastics in 2021, there has never been a better time to join the program.’ said Helen.  "I've never been more proud of the Cairns local business community, rallying together to reduce single use plastics.  It's clear to me that many food business owners of Cairns still care about the environment, despite Covid-19, and are open to better packaging options for the environment."

    But it's not just businesses who can get involved..have you thought about reducing your use of plastic? No better time to make a start than to register your pledge at Plastic Free July!

    From its humble beginnings in 2011, the award-winning Plastic Free July campaign, run by a passionate team in Australia but operating across the globe, encourages everyone to make a pledge for July to avoid as much plastic across different areas of everyday life, at home, school or university, work (as an employee or employer), shopping/cafe/retail shop owner or council employee. 

    By registering your details at https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/take-the-challenge/, you can join 250 million participants from around the world and receive weekly emails with tips and tricks, the latest plastic free ideas, read stories from other participants and find long lasting solutions in your lifestyle.  Together we can make a difference and be a part of the solution. 

    Importantly, also choose to support those businesses who are actively working to reduce plastic - you can find an updated list at www.plasticfreecairns.org. Let them know you appreciate what they are doing and give them some love! Look out for the special 'Plastic Free Champions' sign - only given to those businesses who have eliminated all six items and significantly reduced their plastic use.

    During Plastic Free July, Plastic Free Cairns is running a competition to win a Plastic Free Prize Pack – valued at $200

                       1L Stainless Steel Water Bottle

                       Artisan Glass Reusable Coffee Cup

                       Stainless Steel Bento Snack Box

                       Bamboo Cutlery, Straw & Chopsticks Travel Pack

                       Fresh Produce Bags (Boomerang Bags)

                       Carry Bags (Boomerang Bags)

                       Palm Cove Solid Hair Care Bar

                       Crystal Cascades Moisturising Body Bar

                       Bamboo Toothbrush

                       Bamboo Sporks

                       Loofah Kitchen Sponges

    To enter the competition head to Star FM https://www.star1027.com.au/win/win-now . Competition begins on the 6th of July 20 with the winner announced Friday the 24th of July 2020.

    Stay up to date on exciting developments in the Plastic Free Cairns program on social media Facebook or Instagram (@plasticfreecairns). 

    To find out more about the program, view the current list of members or to join as a café or restaurant, visit www.plasticfreecairns.org.



  • Friday, June 26, 2020 7:37 AM | Valentina Vélez Rivera (Administrator)

    Our little mobile bar business has been in hibernation since March.  As we start to re-emerge and pick up the pieces of a shattered FNQ party season, amid understandable concern over health and hygiene during this new COVID life, the problem of disposable plastics has taken a back seat.

    The straw situation is okay – our hay ones are definitely acceptable, as long as we now use single-use plastic gloves!  Cornstarch gloves are on order, but it remains to be seen how durable they will be.

    Our lovingly hand washed champagne flutes have been cast aside for single use plastic that fall apart at the stems.  We still can use Biopak plant based ‘toss in the garden’ tumblers for spirits, wine and cocktails, however now they too are just single-use.  Unfortunately, there is no Biopak version for Champagne flutes that can be purchased in bulk.  The volume we need for just a 100 guest wedding is blowing the budget of many couples.

    On the rare occasion that we can actually use our glassware, we have had to purchase a commercial glass washer, that unfortunately uses more water per wash than we do with hand washing (and that’s the eco model!).  Washing up on site now is an impossibility.  Our plan B is to label everyone’s glass (yes, with a plastic removable sticker) but that is quite time-consuming behind a busy bar and we’re still unsure on how we can manage people removing the label off or even their ability to hang onto one glass during a 6-hour function!

    At the outset of our sustainability project we committed ourselves to reducing our bar waste to just a single small bag of rubbish per event (reuse of ice bags for rubbish).  We were so close to that goal!  Now all has to be double-bagged once again and tossed into land fill.  

    Self-serve water stations are gone too, creating the need for single-use plastic water bottles to be supplied.  However on plus side, we can recycle those along with the cans, stubbies and softdrinks bottles for a 10c refund, so all is not lost!



  • Friday, June 26, 2020 7:33 AM | Valentina Vélez Rivera (Administrator)

    The first step of reducing food in landfill is to reduce your overall food waste generated, be it in the home, or in a business. But even done perfectly, there’s always food waste associated with the preparation of food; the stalks, cores, husks, peels of food that is uneatable, or unappetising. We might be able to get another life out of vegetable scraps, by planting those that regrow to foodor houseplant, or boiling them for stock, feeding them to the chooks, but food waste is inevitable. Everything must breakdown eventually!

    But it’s up to us to decide how the food waste we produce will break down. Did you know that when sent to landfill, food waste is first wrapped in plastic garbage bags, and sandwiched between more of the same into a large pile, before eventually being covered over entirely? This environment is built to contain all that waste but isn’t very conducive to the natural breakdown of food.

    Trapped without air, food decomposing in landfill produces methane, a greenhouse gas over 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat. In fact, landfills account for 34 percent of all methane emissions particularly in the U.S. In addition to the production of methane, landfill contaminates soil, ground water, and pollutes debris in surrounding area.

    Overall, landfills are a waste of resources, certainly there’s the cost of transporting, and managing landfill and it’s by-products, as well as the land space that’s overtaken to manage our waste. Habitat used for landfill is altered beyond return to its original state and will affect birds and wildlife in the area who can be attracted by the food, much of it not good them. While today there is an awareness on reducing food waste more needs to be done. It starts with us all, lets become more aware of what we are wasting and work together on it, there are solutions available that eliminates the need of any food waste going to landfill, and are available at Tina O’Hagan Foodservice Consultancy.

    Contact Tina for a free 15minute call so she can direct you on the best practices and equipment available to reduce food waste going to landfill.

    www.tinaohagan.com.au.

    NO MORE FOOD WASTE TO LANDFILL

    FOODWASTE TO LANDFILL IS NOT IN GOOD TASTE !!


  • Friday, June 26, 2020 7:31 AM | Valentina Vélez Rivera (Administrator)

    Over the past several years there’s been a movement in the blogosphere and social media world where influencers are constantly telling their audience to “let go of your  quest for perfection.”

    This has never sat well with me. I mean what’s wrong with striving for perfection? When did perfection become such a dirty word?

    I wouldn’t say I’m a “perfectionist” by any means, however I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with striving for perfection. Why would we not try to do the very best we can? Why give 80 per cent when you can give 100?

    When I speak to people about their journey in living a life with less plastic, the most common thing I hear is “I’m not perfect, I still have lots of plastic in my home but I try to reduce my waste as much as I can.” And there it is . . . there is a quest to be perfect, along with an acknowledgement that they aren’t doing things perfectly, but they are doing the very best they can and constantly trying to do better.

    “Do the best you can, until you know better — then do better.”

    When we’re first learning about the issues surrounding plastic pollution it can be incredibly overwhelming. Instead of getting overwhelmed at all the changes — simply do the best you can. When you learn there are better ways to live life with less plastic — opt for the better ways.

    Take a simple plastic shopping bag for example. A perfectionist mindset is to eliminate all plastic shopping bags. This act really isn’t as hard as it sounds. Take your own bags to the shops, bring the bags home, clean and repeat. That’s one problem down, and not only have you done it perfectly, but you also know reusable bags are better — and therefore you’ve done better. Are you still buying products packaged in plastic, and therefore you still have plastic bags in your house. Probably but you perfected the first step, removing the need to use plastic shopping bags. Perfect!

    My belief . . . strive for perfection but acknowledge in some circumstances, such as removing all plastics from your life, that perfection doesn’t equate to 100 percent elimination.

    In other words be realistic — it’s okay to be imperfectly perfect.

    This “Plastic Free July” strive to do your best at eliminating as much single use plastic from your daily life as you can. But remember not to get disheartened because you bought a bottle of milk that’s packaged in plastic. The aim of Plastic Free July is do the best you can, and then continue to do better. In other words be imperfectly perfect.

    If you’d like more tips on living life with less plastic head on over to eorth.com.au where we’ll be sharing weekly tips on how you can start the imperfectly perfect process of eliminating single use plastics from your day-to-day activities!


  • Friday, June 26, 2020 7:26 AM | Valentina Vélez Rivera (Administrator)

    What a crazy time it’s been! As somebody who is a major planner, always looking ahead to how I can improve personally and professionally, there have been times of struggle in the past couple of months. Our physio practice has remained open, so while I’ve been able to do more online professional development, I certainly haven’t learnt a new language or perfected my sourdough recipe! While the online world seems to be saturated with workshops and classes, most of our work throughout has been face to face, with vigilant cleaning, disinfecting and screening practices.

    But I can see many positives in this situation- particularly for the environment and our interconnection as humans. Looking at healthcare, Wellness Embodied has a contract with remote communities in the NT. Servicing this normally requires multiple flights, extended drives and stays in hotels. There’s no recycling in communities, or in Katherine, so even the most diligent of us ends up throwing away an undesirably large landfill bag at the end of a week-long stay in community. Now, we can spend a day a week doing video consults from Cairns- improving accessibility for clients who are spread across a large area and decreasing our carbon footprint in the process. We’ve got clients in Cooktown and the Torres Strait on-board also and it’s been great to connect with and empower people who may be isolated at this, or other times. In Cairns, I can organise a phone consult with my GP- meaning I can be out for a bike ride, take a quick phone call and go about my day. Excellent!

    I’m excited about increasing healthcare accessibility for Australians located in some of our most remote regions. I’m also excited to see how many companies will learn to trust their staff to work from home, have more flexible working arrangements, or organise virtual conferences or meetings instead of flying people all over the country. There’s always a need for face to face connection- particularly as physiotherapists! But if this crisis will enable somebody on a remote station to be able to access their physio, GP or psychologist at the touch of a button, I think it’s a big plus for Australians.


  • Friday, June 26, 2020 7:12 AM | Valentina Vélez Rivera (Administrator)

    Over 24 tonnes of debris were removed from the beaches of the Great Barrier Reef through the ReefClean project during 2019, but this is only the tip of the plastic-fighting iceberg.

    As we look back nostalgically on 2019, the year before any of us had heard of COVID 19 or social distancing, we remember those socially close days with volunteers patrolling our beaches to tackle marine debris. However, picking up rubbish will only ever be one part of reducing the impact of plastics in the ocean.

    On May 5th, Tangaroa Blue Foundation launched the report for the first full year of the ReefClean Project. The 5-year project brings together groups and individuals from along the length of the Great Barrier Reef to not only remove marine debris but also to prevent more debris entering the sea and impacting the iconic reef.

    During 2019, ReefClean project partners regularly monitored 33 beaches, ran 49 community clean-ups and presented educational activities in schools and at community events from Bundaberg to the Torres Strait. None of this would have been possible without the contribution of more than 4,000 volunteers who were part of these actions.

    “It has been inspiring to see so many people come forward to help us get a better understanding of the scale of the issue and find ways to deal with marine debris,” said Heidi Taylor, CEO of Tangaroa Blue Foundation.

    “Through the launch of this report, we not only showcase the amazing contribution of so many individuals and partners, but the data and numbers provide a clearer picture of the problem, which enables us to make better decisions on how to tackle it.”

    A key aspect of the ReefClean project, and all Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s work, is counting and recording all debris collected in the Australia Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database. This provides opportunities to track specific items back to the source and find ways to prevent them from being released in the future.

    Natural oceanic and weather processes are also considered when tracking back to the source of the litter. An example of this would be the remote beaches of Cape York. Far from residential areas, almost 1,700 debris items were recorded for every hectare of beach. As there are very few or no people living near these beaches, we know that the debris loads washing onto shore are from overseas sources carried in by tides and storms.

    In other areas, the source is clearly local. In the populated areas of the Wet Tropics in Far North Queensland, an estimated seventy percent of debris on the beaches has come from the local community, with some of their top-ranking items being cigarette butts and filters, broken glass, aluminium cans, and miscellaneous paper, labels and tickets.

    “We’re proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in the first year of the ReefClean project, but we know there is still much we need to do together to tackle this issue.”

    ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia, AUSMAP, Capricornia Catchments, Eco Barge Clean Seas, OceanWatch Australia, Reef Check Australia, and South Cape York Catchments.

    To view the full report, click here. To view the accompanying AUSMAP microplastics report, click here.


  • Friday, June 26, 2020 7:06 AM | Valentina Vélez Rivera (Administrator)


  • Tuesday, March 10, 2020 1:18 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    This is the time for change.

    Businesses are facing a range of challenges that will force change. As a local company, founded in FNQ, I know the local business environment and the unique challenges we face. This is a time to work together and support each other, sharing what we know and who can help.

    GreenKPI is designed to assist businesses offer methods of reducing costs through efficiency gains and in taking advantage of the opportunities in the growth of demand for sustainable businesses.

    Organisations will be required to make difficult decisions over the next 3 years due to changes in the economy such as the impacts of Corona-19. FNQ is currently experiencing a substantial reduction in cash flow in the region. The tourism industry is heavily subject to the loss of trade associated with Corona-19.

    Improving efficiencies in business operations should be the first option to reduce costs, while upskilling to provide sustainable services. Opportunities exist to attract business from outside the region, in an environment where sustainability is growing in consumer demand.

    Establishing sustainability in business operations shows leadership that can be emulated by other businesses and staff members, thus lifting the bar across the region. This has a positive impact on a reputation for sustainability in FNQ.

    To be able to measure, track and report on areas of excess waste in multiple ways is the first step to being able to make changes that have tangible outcomes in reducing waste and costs associated.

    GreenKPI is a software platform that does exactly this and goes a step further in giving specific actions to take to make improvements in areas needed.

    For more information on implementing GreenKPI into your business contact at johanna@greenkpi.com.au.

    Currently the Energy Topic is available, with Waste due in the next month.

    Go to www.greenkpi.com.au and hit the sign up button top right.

    A 20% discount is offered to all existing CFWR members.



  • Tuesday, March 10, 2020 12:00 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    National Plastics Summit – Debrief

    On the 2nd of March 2020 the Australian Government held the first ever National Plastics Summit, with more than 200 representatives from local and global businesses, state and local government, industry and community sectors making the trek to Canberra.

    The Summit set the tone for the future of plastic waste management in Australia. It reinforces our commitment to working with industry to increase our domestic recycling capability, ensuring that the markets and economies required for recycled plastic products are able to foster properly and become self-supporting.

    This is an important step in implementing our national waste export ban that was announced by the Prime Minister in August last year. We will be keeping more of the raw stock here for processing and remanufacturing, helping to lift industry capacity and increase our ability to use these materials constructively.

    During the Summit the Prime Minister announced new reforms to Commonwealth procurement rules to ensure our agencies consider the importance of utilising recycled content as a factor in determining value for money.

    There were many insights and recommendations born out of the Summit, there were some similarities and reoccurring themes around education and implementing national recycling and collection standards. I understand that the detailed recommendations are currently being reviewed and collated from each of the breakout sessions throughout the day and these will be formally put to the Minister for consideration.

    There are still plenty of challenges ahead but we’re on track to address these and commence the appropriate overhaul of our domestic recycling industry. We’ve got some real momentum in this space now and I am very excited about the next steps in kick starting new industries both here in Far North Queensland and the broader national implementation.

    The Hon Warren Entsch MP
    Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef


  • Friday, February 21, 2020 12:19 PM | Valentina Vélez Rivera (Administrator)

    Did you know that annual reports of the fashion industry indicate that as much as 4% of the global waste footprint is made up of clothing?  Try to imagine what 92 million tonnes of clothing looks like piled up, well that’s the amount sent mostly to landfill around the world each year. 

    Here in Australia on average, our contribution to this waste activity amounts to 23kgs of clothing (per Australian) disposed of each year.

    As a society our insatiable appetite for the latest fashion is having a significant impact on the environment. Many claiming that thanks to 'fast fashion' the clothing industry has become the second largest polluter in the world, second only to oil production.  Disturbingly the industry is responsible for contributing 10% of global greenhouse gases, becoming the second largest consumer of global water supplies and major contributor to micro plastics in our oceans.  I think we can all agree that something needs to change here.

    Here in Far North Queensland, on average Cairns residents dispose of more than 3000 tonnes of textiles/clothing per year, unfortunately this material is not recyclable through Council systems. 

    Are we as consumers and producers of waste truly taking responsibility for this material, what other opportunities are there?

    The good news is that we do have many options to avoid clothing waste, to reduce and reuse this material, successfully avoiding landfill.

    Let’s look at a few tips that can help us achieve more sustainable outcomes: 

    • 1.      Buying less of the material all together- and doing so responsibly. 
      Buying only what we need and perhaps even paying more for higher quality, more durable items.  (perhaps saving a little longer, for the items we really want).
    • 2.      Ever considered clothing rental? In addition to suit/bridal hire companies, there are opportunities now days for corporate clothing rental, you'll have the cutting edge look and be reducing waste at the same time! Further information here: www.glamcorner.com.au/on-demand
    • 3.      Make plans, consider clothing reuse, shop and of course donate your pre-loved items to family, friends or Cairns locations such as Salvation Army, Vinnies, Lifeline, the Council Buy Back Shop (via CRC Transfer Stations) and many more.  
    • 4.      Recycling options – though not accepted in kerbside recycling, clothing retailers H&M, Zara and Manrags each have garment collection programs for clothing or textiles, which they reuse or recycle directly.  Also, keep an eye on the recycling near you website for further information and new offerings for waste reduction, reuse & recycling.

    Lastly, when clothing has reached the point of not being technically wearable (up for interpretation) it still doesn’t have to be disposed of, consider upcycling. Take those old t-shirts and make something new, like a reusable bag.  Get in touch with Boomerang Bags Cairns for more information.

    Scott Patterson


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