BIODEGRADABLE products and recycling practices have captured news headlines since the State Government flagged a potential ban on single-use plastics from 2020.
Shearer’s Cook Cafe proprietor Melissa Armfield made the decision to forgo using plastics 18 months ago.
“It’s always been our ethos, to reuse, repurpose and recycle,” Ms Armfield said.
“All of our furniture is pre-loved and our takeaway cups can be repurposed as seed planters.”
The Shearer’s Cook use straws which are made from rice and the cafe’s takeaway containers have rice lids.
The cafe’s napkins are made from recycled paper and Melissa has started recycling milk bottles and bottle caps.
Ms Armfield said the only problem with cutting out disposable plastics was biodegradable products were not cheap.
“It is definitely more expensive than takeaway, but even doing a little bit for the planet feels good and it’s a conversation starter with our customers,” she said.
For retailer Foster’s Foodland, cutting out conventional plastics for the sake of biodegradable products is difficult due to price and the added disadvantage of not finding suitable alternatives.
However, manager Dave Foster said he was all for reducing plastics consumption.
“It’s not something that we can do at the moment, because the options simply are not always available,” he said.
Mr Foster used the example of styrofoam meat trays, which are not biodegradable, but are the best option that supermarkets currently have.
He said alternatives were not sturdy enough and cannot contain the freshness of the meat.
Master Butchers Limited are working on creating a recyclable meat tray, however Mr Foster does not know when that product will be ready for wholesale.
The additional costs of biodegradable material can also be a challenge for large businesses.
Mr Foster said the store has previously looked into having biodegradable fruit and vegetable bags, however the price and quality of the bags did not make them an appealing investment.
He said he was encouraging is more customers bringing along their green bags when they shop and reusable produce bags.
South East environmental group Community Action for Sustainability has faith the region would embrace the ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cutlery.
Group member Sophie Henke said growing waste and sustainable solutions is becoming a “huge challenge” for the community.
However, South East-based Green Triangle Recyclers owner Ian Weber said the government’s proposed ban was not the ultimate solution, calling on councils to work along State and Federal Governments and invest in education and infrastructure to decrease and manage waste.