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Businesses coming on board to join Plastic Free Cairns and kicking off Plastic Free July by Helen Reilly

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

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, 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 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 . 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


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