Circular economy for businesses

The materials you use in your business could be used more efficiently to reduce waste. Find out more about how your business can transition to a circular economy and the initiatives coming into effect, including a ban on single-use plastics.

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What is a circular economy? 

Our Climate Emergency Response Strategy 2021–25 | DhumbaliWurrungi-biikParbin-ata defines the circular economy as ‘a system in which all resources are highly valued and remain in the system through re-use, re-purposing and recycling’. 

Many countries, states and local councils are transitioning to a model that manages the Earth’s resources more efficiently. In a circular economy, waste is designed out of the system, meaning that unnecessary or wasteful items are not produced in the first place. 

In a perfect circular economy, the materials we use in products would all be recovered, reprocessed and reused in a continuous loop, rather than becoming waste in landfill. 

Our draft Circular Economy Plan 2022–2026 will enable Council and the community to work together to implement this Plan for future generations and the bettering of our planet. 

Your business can transition to a circular economy too. Take a look below at ways your business can reduce waste and transition to a circular economy. 

Transitioning your business to a circular economy — ​single-use plastics ban 

Single-use plastics ban coming to effect on 1 February 2023 

By February 2023, single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers and cotton bud sticks made from conventional, degradable and compostable materials, including bioplastic and oxo-degradable materials, are proposed to be banned from sale or supply in Victoria. The ban will also apply to food and drink containers made from expanded polystyrene.  

Find out more about the ban at Sustainability Victoria. 

How should your business prepare for the single-use plastic ban?  

  • Stop ordering banned items now.  
  • Do a stocktake and work out how long it will take to exhaust your banned items. 
  • Speak to your supplier if you have large amounts of stock. They may accept returns or exchanges. 
  • Transfer excess stock to another state (however be aware of similar bans in other states). 

Contact a local recycler to see if they can take some items if you cannot exhaust, return, exchange or transfer your stock in time. 

Questions to ask your supplier 

  • Do these items comply with the Victorian plastics ban that comes into effect in 2023?  
  • Can you confirm that they do not contain any form of polymer, plastic, or compostable plastic?  
  • Are my plastic shopping bags more than 35 microns in thickness at all parts of the bag?  
  • If your supplier cannot answer yes to all questions, the items may be banned in 2023.  

Note: alternatives to EPS containers or cups can be made from other forms of plastic. 

Inform your team and customers 

  • Prepare your stafffor customer questions about the ban and inform them of the changes you have decided to make.   
  • Inform your customers of the ban and prepare them for the changes you will implement. We recommend businesses display signage well ahead of the ban, so customers have time to adjust.  

For more frequently asked questions on the single-use plastic ban, visit Engage Victoria  

Alternatives to single-use plastic items 

Avoid single-use items where you can and choose reusables such as:  

  • Straws — save costs by avoiding straws altogether, or only provide them on request. Alternatively explore reusable options such as metal or silicone. 
  • Cutlery — save costs by not providing cutlery or only provide on request, including for food delivery customers. Encourage customers to bring their own reusable cutlery when they get takeaway and provide reusable cutlery for dine in customers. 
  • Plates — avoid single-use and use reusable plates. 
  • Drink stirrers — save costs and avoid drink stirrers altogether or provide only on request. Reusable alternatives include teaspoons or metal sticks.
  • EPS food and drink containers — encourage customers to bring their own reusable container for takeaway. Alternatively consider a returnable container system for takeaway containers. If you cannot avoid or use reusable items, then choose non-plastic materials such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper, wood or bamboo.

Reusable alternative resources and platforms to consider 

Retub  

Glen Eira Boomerang Bags volunteer their time once a month to sew donated fabrics into Boomerang Bags which are distributed to local businesses.   

Returnr offer a range of products that can be used in substitute for single-use packaging for suppliers and customers.  

Add your business to the BYO Containers platform to inform the community your business accepts reusable containers. 

Register your business on the Responsible Cafes website to be awarded a ‘Responsible Bean Rating’ and promoted on their website.  

Become an Infinity Box partner, who offer a trash-less takeaway container solution for customers and restaurants. 

Sign up to Green Caffeen, a FREE reusable coffee cup system for eco-focused cafes and coffee lovers. 

Green My Plate supplies reusable plates, bowls and cutlery as well as wash stations, staff and compost bins to events and schools. 

Use Sustainability Victoria’s Buy Recycled directory to find products containing recycled materials 


Recycling resources 

Learn the right way to recycle with Recycle Mate.  

Find a recycling service or collection with Planet Ark’s Business Recycling 

How to reduce and recycle plastics at work  

Find out where to recycle coffee capsules 

Smart Recycling transforms timber, commercial green and builders waste into recycled pallets, timber packaging, landscaping and building products.  

Precious Plastic Melbourne find creative ways to repurpose and recycle plastic waste. They offer micro-recycling equipment, resources and tools for businesses to transition to a circular economy.  

Textile Recyclers Australia supports retailers and manufacturers with textile recycling, compostable packaging and circular solutions for unwanted textiles.  

Close the Loop provide best-in-class sustainability solutions to help companies enhance corporate social responsibility programs. 

Partner with Upparel to recycle unwanted textiles. 

Upcycle your excess cardboard with Greenway 

Use Nespresso capsules in the office? Participate in the Nespresso Bulk Recycling Program, a free-of-charge collection service for used Nespresso coffee pods.  

Partner with TerraCycle, who offer recycling programs and solutions for different business items. 


Organic waste resources 

Connect with someone on Sharewaste and recycle food scraps with others who are already composting, worm-farming or keep farm animals. 

Visit or join the Caulfield South Community Garden and learn more about sustainable gardening and participate in their food swaps, workshops and open days. 

Sign up to Bring Me Home which aims to eliminate food waste in the retail space by making unsold food affordable and accessible to everyone. Businesses can list their meal deals for free on the app, with no sign up or monthly fee.  


Paid services 

Reground collects businesses’ coffee grounds, chaff and soft plastics and gives them new life. 

KS Environmental offer a range of commercial recycling solutions.  

Veolia offers organic recycling collection and turns the biogas into renewable energy. 

Waste Ninja is an innovative, 100% Australian-owned waste management company with a specialist focus on food waste recycling 

Start an on-site worm farm with Worm Lovers 


More circular economy resources 

The Circular Toolbox aims to enable apparel brands to design and launch their own circular business model, specifically a rental or resale business model. 

Circular Metrics for Businesses  

Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) 


Supply chain transparency

Customers want to know more about the products and services they buy. Find out more about having transparency in your supply chain and the eight steps to achieve this. 

If you have any questions or enquiries regarding circular economy for businesses, please contact sustainablebusiness@gleneira.vic.gov.au