What the Australian food industry is doing to fight the war on plastic

Poor Alexander Parkes. When the British inventor created the world's first plastic in 1855, he probably didn't count on mankind developing a dangerous, 448-million-tonne-a-year addiction to the stuff.

Not that plastic is, in itself, bad. It can be used to repair body organs. To build lighter versions of things such as car parts. To make dolls, Lego, Transformers and other memories of a happy childhood. All good uses of the substance. The frightening amount of disposable plastic being made (some reports estimate that around 40 per cent of the world's plastic is designed to be used once then thrown away)? Not so good, especially as more reports surface about the amount of disposable plastic entering our oceans and food systems. Then there's the issue of how long it takes for plastic to break down, with estimates ranging from 450 years to never.

Changing the cafe culture

With an estimated 1 billion plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups used in Australia annually, the ubiquitous drinking vessel has become the pin-up boy of our disposable society. Some cafes are choosing to fight back by joining schemes like Responsible Cafes (customers bringing in their own cup enjoy discounted coffee) or switching to compostible cups. Others are simply reacting by not using takeaway cups at all. At Antz Inya Pantz in the inner Perth suburb of Vic Park, for example, customers have to either drink their coffee in-house, bring their own or buy a non-disposable cup. Since opening in May 2016, the cafe has removed 151,812 – and counting – takeaway cups from the system. "In two years, I've had five people that wanted a takeaway coffee walk out of the cafe without listening to our spiel," says Antz Inya Pantz owner Craig Muzeroll. "Considering we serve around 400 customers every day, five people is a small percentage. People in Vic[toria] Park get it. They know we're a little eccentric."

In Geelong, Little Green Corner is another striking blows against plastic, not least by working with local milk producer Schulz Dairy to have its milk delivered in metal pails that staff then decant into (reusable) glass bottles.

 Hugh Whitehead and Chris Welsh of Geelong's Little Green Corner. The cafe's plastics-free efforts include having milk delivered in metal pails.  Photo: Gail Thomas

Hugh Whitehead and Chris Welsh of Geelong's Little Green Corner. The cafe's plastics-free efforts include having milk delivered in metal pails.  Photo: Gail Thomas

"We don't save any money by not having packaging, but we're cool with that," says owner Hugh Whitehead. "It's an idea that fits in with our values about waste and that's good enough for us."

Getting milk delivered in large-format containers is just the start of Little Green Corner's anti-waste stance. Rather than stock bottled drinks, the cafe makes its own seasonal drinks by combining (tapped) sparkling water with cordials and syrups made with seasonal fruit. Menus are kept tight with each of the four dishes offered a reflection of what local farmers have brought through the door.

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Designer for Responsible Cafes Chats to TWIG

Twig Tea caught up with Responsible Cafes' very own, Catherine Leach from Catfish Creative (www.catfishcreative.com.au) to find out what motivates her to run a business devoted to using design as a conduit for change.

In this short interview we find out a little bit about what makes our resident creative tick, along with who and what made her dramatically change the direction of her business. 

If you would like to find out more about where you can find a discount for using your own cup head to our map, or for more on the Circular Experiment by clicking here

Responsible Cafes and the War on Waste

The team from War on Waste are music to our ears with this podcast outlining the problem with disposable coffee cups and the difference a couple of small changes to your morning ritual will make. 

If you listen to the entire podcast, you'll find some nuggets of information in there that will have you looking at jars in an entirely different way. 

But you'll have to listen to find out 


Congratulations to Hawkesbury Council

Massive congratulations to Hawkesbury Council, the most recent council to become involved with the Responsible Cafes intiative.

Members of the Hawkesbury Environmental Network have been out in force. Having approached around 70 cafe owners, encouraging them to get on-board and help save disposable coffee cup waste by offering discounts on reusable cup purchases.

 KEEP YOUR CUP: Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett meeting with HEN volunteers and cafe operators who have registered as Responsible Cafes. 

KEEP YOUR CUP: Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett meeting with HEN volunteers and cafe operators who have registered as Responsible Cafes. 

Council will be providing a limited number of free reusable cups from its tent at the Hawkesbury Show on 20 to 22 April at the Hawkesbury Showground, Clarendon. Recipients will need to sign a pledge to use the reusable cup when buying takeaway hot drinks.

For the full article click here


We think Chilli Lime Salt is the hottest cafe in Denmark

Not only has Chilli Lime Salt Cafe owner Monika Bennie taken the Responsible Cafes initiative into her cafe (We are really feeling the love over here, so thank you)

She has invited Freddo Fin into her cafe as well. Freddo (pictured) has previously been used to inform people in Denmark about the problem with plastic bags (full article), but Freddo is now filled with 547 disposable coffee cups. 

 Image courtesy of the Great Southern Weekender (full article here)

Image courtesy of the Great Southern Weekender (full article here)

That's the average amount of disposable cups used in Denmark every single day. Lets show Monika some support andget the opporunity to meet Freddo Fin, head to Lime Chilli Salt for your coffee next time out. 

For the full feature article in the West Australian please click here

If you don't live in Denmark but want to find out where you should go to get discount on your coffee please head to our maps page


The complete list of Responsible Cafes across St George and Sutherland Shire

On the football pitch there is a longstanding rivalry between these two parts of the world. But The Leader has brought them together for a cause that stretches far beyond Shark Park.

The full article celebrates the success of local cafe owners at the forefront of promoting reusable cups - you'll have to check it out to see if your local watering hole is featured. A huge thanks to the writers at the Leader for compiling a complete list of all the cafes in the area that will offer you a discount for bringing your own cup. The list is below

Revolution @ Como

72 Wolger St, Como. Discount: $0.50

Mr Paisleys Cafe

88 Cawarra Road, Caringbah. Discount: $0.50


20 Torres St, Kurnell. Discount: $0.50

Gloria Jeans Caringbah

324-326 The Kingsway, Caringbah: Discount: $0.50

Passionfruit Cafe

46 Brighton St, BundeenaPassionfruit Cafe.  Discount: $0.50

LOAF Sandwiches

89 Cronulla St, Cronulla. Discount: $0.30

Activ8 Health & Fitness

381 Port Hacking Rd, Caringbah. Discount: $0.50

Bourke Street Bakery Kirrawee

3/455 The Boulevarde. Discount: $0.20

Coco's Coffee Co

(Saturday market) 131 Flora St, Sutherland. Discount: : $0.50

West End Espresso

2/3 Jannali Ave, Jannali. Discount: $0.50

  • Cafes which offer an incentive to BYO in St George include:

German Butchery Deli & Cafe

Shop 1, 2A Sarsfield Circuit, Bexley North 

Discount: : $0.50


1/249 Forest Rd, Hurstville

Discount: : $0.50

Soul Origin Hurstville Westfield

Discount: : 10% off

Spaghetti Cafe

16/52 Martin Pl, Mortdale

Discount: : $0.30

Lugarno deli cafe

1022 Forest Rd, Lugarno

Discount: : $0.50

Edmonds & Greer

97 Mulga Road Oatley

Discount: : $0.30

Postcard from Napoli Woodfire Pizzeria

2/93 Mulga Road, Oatley

Discount: $0.50

La Zona Cafe Restaurant

71 Mulga Road, Oatley

Discount: : $0.50

Tidz Across the Park

2/12A Oatley Parade, Oatley

Discount: : $0.50

Dolce Espresso

18 Letitia St, Oatley 

Discount: : $0.50


Shop 1/15 Letitia St, Oatley 

Discount: : $0.50

Bitton Oatley Cafe and Grocer

119 Mulga Rd, Oatley

Discount: : $0.50


Waste conscious: Peter Nolan from Mr Paisley's Cafe in Caringbah. The cafe offers a 50 cent discount for customers who bring their own coffee cup. Picture: John Veage