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  • Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:04 AM | Anonymous

    By Mark Slimmer owner of Village Cafe On Collins

    I hope you have implemented recycling in your business and it is working for you. Remember, it will require ongoing commitment and followup from the business leadership to ensure your recycling effort does not falter and you end up with the wrong waste in bins. If the business owner or management are not able to spend time on this they should appoint or empower a staff member to help drive your recycle effort.

    With plastic bottles there is a new container refund scheme introduced by the Queensland Government as of November 1. It is called the ‘containers for change' and involves a 10c refund on eligible plastic drink bottles that you collect and drop off to specific locations. You can read more about it at

    We have covered many of the main items businesses can recycle, but you may not realise that there are many more items that can be recycled. Here are some more examples;

    A notable part of office waste includes used ink cartridges from printers and copiers and this is a huge problem for the environment if they are not disposed of correctly. If you want to read a little about it you go to or simply google 'printer cartridge waste' to access a variety of online articles. Most brands of printer cartridges can be recycled so if you are not already doing so talk to your supplier about where you can recycle your used cartridges. If your current supplier does not offer a collection point you can take your used cartridges to Officeworks.

    Batteries are also a huge environmental problem if they go to landfill. Many people are unaware that batteries of all shapes and sizes can be recycled. You can have a dedicated box or bin in your home and office to dispose of typical household and office batteries and periodically drop them off to the Cairns Regional Council transfer station. Alternately, you can drop off up to 5 kgs to your local library or Battery World on Mulgrave road. There are a number of articles online about the problem with used batteries and recycling and here is one you might find informative

  • Friday, December 14, 2018 1:03 PM | Anonymous
    Love-Lee Cooking brings a lot more to the table than just great food.

    The Atherton-based catering service and cafe lives up to their strong business ethos of being socially and ecologically responsible through sustainable, community-based processes.

    “We’ve made a business stance on what’s good for us, our environment and our community,’ said Lee Norman, of Love-Lee. “Our food is sourced from local farmers, producers and suppliers.”

    As a part of the Responsible Cafes Program, Love-Lee undertakes a lot of initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle.

    When in season and plentiful, produce is turned into pasta sauces, jams and chutney’s, to be sold and used within the café.  
    Coffee grinds and egg shells are collected weekly by one of the local biodynamic farmers – who also supplies the cafe with great produce.  Lee’s teenage son is researching how to start up a worm farm using them as well to supplement the café’s herb garden.   
    Any leftover food is packaged up and given to local community groups and kitchen scraps are given to Lee’s chooks and ducks.

    Any packaging is saved and reused to fill website orders and we work with our business neighbours to utilise their wastage as well.

    The cafe encourages patrons to bring their own takeaway cups and containers by incentivising them with discounts on meals and drinks. If you forget, Lee provides compostable options that are sugar cane pulp-based.

    They have a strict ‘No Straw’ policy, opting for bamboo straws and using washable cutlery for in house use and wooden cutlery for take away. To educate both her patrons and her staff about single use plastic, Lee uses wooden straw stirrers and real salt and pepper grinders instead of sachets and doesn’t sell bottled water – instead cold filtered water and reusable cups are supplied free and the café is registered as a water refilling station.

    Love-Lee Cooking is always actively seeking different ways to reuse  waste – from collecting coffee bags for Junkweavers, bottle tops for a local kindy, to shredding waste paper for the neighbouring pet store.  It is this ethos that underpins the business, is well supported by staff and is what drives the continued investigation and creative thinking to reduce waste where ever possible.

    Lee’s biggest tip for those wanting to reduce their footprint: “Don’t try to change the world all at once, she said, “Think of one thing you can do, master it, and then move onto the next and share your story.”

    “That’s what this cafe does, we do it and talk about it constantly. People might question why we use timber cutlery or why we don’t use straws. This starts conversation and gets people questioning and thinking,” she said. “It’s these conversations that spark thought and change.”

    Drop by Love–Lee Wholefoods Cafe, 70 Main Street Atherton, and be part of the movement.
  • Thursday, December 13, 2018 12:38 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    The Edge Hill State School Sustainable Living Kitchen Garden Program is a Sustainability Cross-Curricular initiative in its third year of implementation. Paddock to plate learning experiences are driven by a team of dedicated Year 4 Teachers. The aim is to provide real-world opportunities for students, teachers, parents and community members to develop and put into practice the knowledge, skills and values required to live and work sustainably.

    After establishing garden beds and an instructional kitchen; a school wide compost system was introduced. Food scraps are collected from the entire school community to make compost for the organic gardens spread across the school. Year 4 students and teachers conducted an extensive whole school waste audit to establish baseline data to further improve how waste is managed across the school. Students collated and analysed the data and used the findings to present a case for change to the school’s leadership team. Students this year are working on the recommendation to implement a three bin colour coded system to effectively collect recyclables, compost and general waste.

    Other avoid, reduce, reuse and recycle practices established in the school include:

    • ·         restoring and repurposing old school furniture
    • ·         transforming discarded timber pallets into planter boxes
    • ·         reusing antiquated netball posts, old fencing, shelving and shade cloth to construct a propagating shed
    • ·         reusing old desk trays as seed raising trays.

    Our Year 4 students were the winners of this year’s Cairns Regional Council Short Film Competition Re-Think Waste. Their entry highlighted the efforts the school community is putting into re-thinking what we do with waste as part of their learning in the school’s Sustainable Living Kitchen Garden Program.

    The program is supported each year by the school community, parents and volunteers. This year we have been very excited to establish a partnership with Cairns Airport. Spent coffee grinds from the airport cafes are delivered to the school to use on our garden beds and to enhance our compost production.

  • Thursday, December 13, 2018 12:24 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    by Scottie Paterson - Cairns Regional Council

    A central pillar of our Schools Waste Education program is rebooting our thinking with regards to looking after our waste, a fantastic tool for demonstrating preferred actions that students, schools, and residents can all take is known as the Waste Hierarchy.

    So what is the Waste Hierarchy?

    In 1979 a Dutch politician, by the name of Ad Lansink introduced a new way of thinking around maximising the efficient use of resources, by ranking waste management options by what would best for the environment. He mapped out actions from most preferable to least, starting with reducing and avoiding waste, reusing materials where possible, recycling, recovering (incineration & energy) lastly landfilling disposal.

    The graphic representation was first called 'Lansink's Ladder' but later evolved into the Waste Hierarchy.  The intention of the tool was for government and individual actions of waste management to ‘step up the ladder’,  away from landfill dependency into higher order actions, to set out to prioritise managing waste from the top down, towards reducing the amount of waste and preserve natural resources (and virgin material sources).

    39 years later this method of thinking, this very model we call the 'Waste Hierarchy', has formed the backbone of countless federal, state and local government's planning all over the world, including our very own Cairns Regional Council Waste Reduction and Recycling Strategy (2018-2027).

    How can we use this tool to rethink and reboot our thinking at home or school?

    Let's take the single use of a plastic PET bottle, though not preferred (at all), for many this type of item is simply disposed of when used, being placed in waste bins all across Cairns.  Let's move this item up the ladder (or pyramid), moving out of landfill waste (disposing), skipping incineration for energy (recovering) and up to recycling. Clearly this method is preferred over landfilling or incineration, as it keeps the material in a circular loop, the product reformed into new items and remaining in use.  But, how do we advance this item to the very top of the ladder? School students all over Cairns have this one sorted, they would tell us use reusable water bottles, avoid the single use option completely! Now we aren't adding to the 50 billion bottles of water being bought each year globally.  The Waste Hierarchy method can be used across all of our problem waste items in this way, soft plastic bags, styrofoam products, coffee cups all avoided and switched for reusable options.  How can we apply this to our school, community group and business decisions?  It’s up to us to reboot our thinking about the waste material we create each day.

    We still have a long journey ahead of us in moving away from landfill dependency towards a circular economy, but thanks to great thinkers like Ad Lansink and his fantastic Waste Hierarchy model we are in a far better position in North Queensland to take meaningful action today with our management of waste and resources.  

    Have a wonderful day

    Scottie Paterson -  Waste Education Officer, Cairns Regional Council

  • Thursday, December 13, 2018 12:21 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    By Cathy Earle - Eorth

    Christmas time means office parties, social functions and family get together's. A common, fun part of these social gatherings is gift giving. And who doesn’t love to give and receive, isn’t that all part of the spirit of Christmas?

    The concept of gift giving at these functions is simple. Buy a gift of a dollar value determined by group organiser—typically under $20, wrap it, and either gift it to your selected recipient or gift it anonymously.

    Anonymous gifting is otherwise known as a “Secret Santa”. One person starts the process by selecting a wrapped gift from the gifting pile, the next recipient is selected by whatever method the organiser chooses, they select their gift, and the process continues until no further gifts are available.

    What should be an inexpensive, fun way to celebrate and give gifts has now turned into “what can I buy that’s cheap to give away?” And typically when we think of cheap, it involves some junky plastic item that you might pick up at the dollar shop. The gift may be intended to embarrass the recipient. Or perhaps the gift is humorous, It was never indented to be of use to the recipient but provides five minutes of entertainment for the room when the silly gift is opened. But what’s most likely, is that the gift will almost always be packaged in plastic, or is a plastic item that will end up in landfill by the time the recipient gets home.

    Let’s face it, we’ve become a throw away society, purchasing gifts simply based on a dollar value. How much will it cost, not how much will the recipient “value” this gift?

    It’s easy to avoid unnecessary waste by simply selecting gifts that will last or can truly be appreciated by the recipient.

    Need some inspiration? Skip the plastic wrap and make your own bouquet of flowers, or head to your local florist and pick up a bunch of unwrapped flowers and add a reusable beeswax wrap on the bottom. The perfect two in one gift. Head to your local markets and pick up some soap—who can’t use a bar of soap? Support your local beekeeper, buy buying a large jar of honey—everyone loves local honey! Most importantly, seek out plastic free items that are reusable and useful that won’t end up in landfill come January.

    Visit for some ecofriendly, zero waste, plastic free gift ideas. Enjoy a less wasteful  festive season in 2018.

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2018 9:57 AM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Introducing Social/Environmental Measures to benefit your brand by Owen Waters, FNQ Finance Guy.

    As a business owner part of my strategy is to stand out from the crowd, offer something different, be a little unique. With so many other businesses competing for a limited customer base being able to stand out and be front of mind for prospective clients when they need my services is vital.

    And it’s important to have a strong brand, something that is recognisable and something that will attract customers. And your brand can be whatever you want it to be but being generic might not have the impact you need to succeed.

    One way to differentiate yourself and build a strong brand is to stand for something, be it social or environmental and then promote it, let people know. Of course, this needs to be genuine and mean something to you, nothing fakes more than a business portraying itself as something it is not. People buy from people they trust, and integrity sells.

    What you do is of course up to you. Maybe your business produces or provides something that is socially responsible or environmentally friendly already and you just haven’t promoted it. Or you may be able to introduce something into your business that does. Can you reduce the amount of waste you produce or the amount of energy you use? If you’re a café or restaurant it might be offering straws or promoting the use of refillable cups rather than takeaway. If you’re in retail, it might be offering paper bags rather than plastic.

    It also gives you something to promote rather than just pushing a product or service all the time. If you use social media to engage with your market then you’ll know that being regular and consistent with your posts means you’ll reach more people. Having enough good content and being able to consistently engage with your market can be difficult, so a social or environmental aspect gives you access to a whole range of new content.

    It can also engage your staff. It might be that you involve your them in deciding on and implementing social or environmental measures at work or that you encourage and allow them to be involved in community actions and events.  Your staff are a huge influencer of any businesses brand and nothing speaks more to me about a good business than a happy and engaged workforce.

    Introducing a good social or environmental cause can be a game changer for your brand and in how your clients and potential clients see you and your business.

  • Wednesday, October 31, 2018 1:48 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Creating less waste requires changing habits

    What’s the best way to cut down waste in your home or business? Target the biggest waste area. For businesses the biggest waste area is going to be specific to the type of business you run, however for the average household the two biggest waste areas are the kitchen and the bathroom.

    Cutting a major waste stream from the kitchen can often be quickly done by simply composting food scraps. Bathroom waste however is a whole different story and often means a major change of habits in order to turn your high waste bathroom into a zero waste, plastic free zone.

    It may come as a surprise to many, but bathrooms are one of the biggest waste producing areas in our homes. It’s also fairly likely the contents of the bathroom garbage bin goes straight to landfill. Sorting out bathroom recycling from bathroom waste, typically not something people give much thought to.

    Let’s take a look at a few of these.

    The most obvious is the shampoo and conditioner. This is where changing habits comes into play. We have become so “conditioned” to using liquid shampoo and conditioner that it’s seen as a foreign concept to use a shampoo bar instead. I’ll admit it does take some getting used to rubbing a bar of soap on your head. But after a few times, and using the right brand you’ll pick up a new habit in no time!

    Liquid soap for washing hands or for washing the body has become extremely popular. The simple bar of soap seems to have been replaced. If you’re still using soap, well done! Does that soap also come packaged in a layer of plastic? If so it’s time to dump that brand and find a plastic free alternative. And don’t forget to check for Palm Oil or RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified brands.

    The next biggest offender in the bathroom is the plastic toothbrush and dental floss. Plastic brushes, once worn out are headed straight for landfill.  A bamboo brush on the other hand will break down naturally when placed in your garden. It’s perfect to use as a vegetable or herb marker. Just remember to remove the nylon bristles first.

    It’s not only the brush that’s an issue when it comes to waste. That tube of toothpaste is also made of plastic. Although it is possible to recycle toothpaste tubes, it requires sending them off for recycling, and I’m going to wager a guess that 99% of people are not recycling their toothpaste tubes. What’s the alternative? Many prefer to make their own toothpaste, there are plenty of great recipes to be found online. However, purchasing toothpaste in a glass jar is becoming more popular, but it’s definitely difficult to source in Australia. EORTH are now stocking Canadian brand Nelson Naturals, a completely plastic free product. Once again this process requires a change in habits. You’re no longer pushing paste from a tube, but rather dipping the brush into a jar.

    A new practice I’ve been noticing lately is the use of small plastic, one time dental floss picks. And where I’ve been noticing them most is on my daily beach walks. Seems like an odd place to find them, but sadly they are commonly found in carparks, and just generally tossed around the street. It’s a terrible practice that needs to end. Unfortunately almost all dental floss on the market is made of nylon, as well the packaging is also made of you guessed it . . . plastic. There are however compostable floss options on the market that are packaged plastic free. A much better alternative.

    There are so many other common bathroom items that I haven’t discussed here. I’m sure once you take a look around your bathroom you’ll become aware of just how much single use plastic we use on a day-to-day basis. Think deodorant, facial cleansers, shaving cream, band-aids, cotton wool buds.

    There are plastic free alternatives for all these products. We need to start looking for those alternatives and removing plastic products one-by-one from our household (and business) purchases. By doing so you’ll notice a dramatic decrease in your waste.

    Take a moment to view your bathroom products — what’s the first thing you can replace to start living a more plastic free life?

  • Wednesday, October 31, 2018 1:39 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Each month we feature a different member of Waste Wise Business and for November we are very pleased to hear from  Vanessa Allen and Fleur Warner from ADhesive Communication: 

    'The team at ADhesive Communication are passionate about the environment and doing our bit to help look after it.

    Our business is a marketing organisation that helps clients with their overall marketing strategies by helping them target their ideal client.  We work with our clients to implement the ideas including producing fantastic television and radio messages that cut through the clutter, we also do all media buying which includes television, radio, press and outdoor.  Our digital services including social media, Google Adwords and websites, just to name a few.

    As we are an office we had be a little creative to reduce our environmental footprint and one of the key changes we felt that would assist was to reduce paper use so we implemented systems to achieve this so we now use less than half the amount of paper used previously.  We also have looked a few other simple processes.

    We Help the Environment By...

    • We changed our processes in company to reduce printing and therefore paper. e.g. only electronic copies of bookings & revenue reports and other documents where possible. 
    • All paper purchased for the office is recycled paper, including hand paper.
    • Double-sided printer default for all computers and staff.
    • We purchased and maintain a recycling bin for entire building which is used by five other businesses in complex.
    • Each staff member has a regular and recycling bin next to their desk. Recycle coffee pods by purchasing recyclable bags from Nespresso.
    • Hand wash all dishes.
    • Re-use empty take away containers for other uses.
    • Re-use empty jars for other uses.
    • Installed energy saving globes where possible.
    • On warmer/cooler days, instead of turning on the heater/air-con we open doors and windows to regulate the temperature.
    • Window tinting on office building to regulate temperature.
    • Printer cartridges are recycled through Officeworks.
    • We purchased second hand furniture to decorate the office (and we think it looks quite amazing).
    • Sell/donate old furniture.
    • Use rag/cloth for cleaning – not paper towel.
    • All lights are switched off when office is vacant.'
    We'd love to hear from you on practical tips that are successful in your workplace. 

  • Friday, October 26, 2018 1:59 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    By Owen Waters - FNQ Finance Guy

    Who’s excited about the upcoming festive season, never ending Xmas parties rolling into Xmas day and the new year. I love a good Xmas party and that’s not hint for an invite.

    If you are a business owner or involved in organising your work Xmas party this year, then why not make it as environmentally responsible as you can by ensuring there are no single use plastics involved. And there are a couple of easy ways you can do this. If you are organising and hosting your own then making the pledge is easy, if you are having it offsite it might prove a little more challenging, but still absolutely doable.

    But first what are Single-use or disposable plastics? They are any plastic item which is used only once before it’s thrown away or recycled and includes things like plastic bags, balloons, straws, coffee stirrers, soft drink and water bottles and most food packaging.

    So, what can you do to make your Xmas party single use plastic free? Well one easy way is to choose a venue that you know is contributing to the solution. And there are some awesome people and organisations around who are making this easier for all of us such as “The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef”. Check out their website and click on the “Officially Registered Businesses” page for a list of venues who don’t use plastic straws. Of course, when choosing a venue, the other easy way to find out is to ask.

    Another easy win is with the good old Secret Santa. Why not ask everyone to make sure that they buy only single use plastics free presents? Sure, it adds an extra layer of fun to that last-minute rush to buy a present for that work colleague you don’t like all that much, but it might actually result in more thoughtful presents.

    Simple actions such as only buying items which are not single use plastics and supporting businesses who don’t use single use plastics, is such an easy thing we can all do. The flow on effect is that the more people do this the more economic it becomes for businesses. Simple actions

    I wish everyone a fun filled, single use plastic free, Xmas (party).

  • Monday, October 22, 2018 12:42 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

    Hi Everyone, 

    We’ve been counting down the top 3 items incorrectly placed in our household, kerbside recycling bins and today we’ve finally reached the end of our journey.  Do you remember where we started? That’s right, coffee cups (number 3), food scraps (number 2).  What item do you think is our main problem in the Cairns region?  Well if you guessed plastic bags, you’re completely right.    

    Number 1: Soft Plastic Bags

    Staff at the Materials Recovery Facility still continue to see large amounts of shopping bags, bin liners, even the latest so called ‘reusable’ soft plastic bags appearing mixed through our recyclables.  Many well-meaning residents bag their recyclables, thinking they are helping, but unfortunately this material can’t be processed and their efforts are wasted.   

    Soft plastics can’t be recycled through Cairns Regional Council systems, but there are a number of drop off points at local shopping centres where these items  (such as shopping bags, pasta and rice bags, biscuit packets, cereal box liners, frozen food and veggie bags) can be deposited for reprocessing through alternative programs.  One such program is known as Redcycle Coles & Woolworth stores across Cairns have receptacles for receiving these soft plastics (nearby their checkouts). Make sure to ask your local store to confirm where you can place returned material in their store.  

    Committing to advoiding and reducing our use of soft plastics is the most important action we can take. Let’s remember our resuable bags when visiting the shops, select grocery items with less packaging, not use bin liners, remove cling wrap from our lunches and work together with people all over Cairns making a difference.

    To reconfirm acceptable items for Cairns Regional Council kerbside recycling bins please view our recycleright page. 

    Thank you so much for reading. 

    Have a great day



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