The Best Bites ‘Recycling and Waste initiative’ criteria makes good business sense. Waste costs time, money and the environmental impacts are huge. Taking time to look at where your business generates waste can help you identify opportunities to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Being part of the 'Best Bites' program means, each business has programs in place to reduce the amount of waste generated. This could include recycling, composting of food scraps, the use of recycled packaging and sourcing local produce.

Problematic plastics:

By Feb 2023 some single use plastics will be banned in the State of Victoria, such as:

  • straws
  • cutlery
  • plates
  • drink-stirrers
  • polystyrene food and drink containers
  • cotton bud sticks.

These single-use items are sometimes used for just a few minutes and may be avoided or replaced by reusables. They are often littered and pose a contamination risk to recycling.

How to avoid single- use plastic items

  • Consider asking your customers to BYO bags, keep cups, containers and more.
  • Try compostable or recyclable options; but beware of degradable – this doesn’t mean it is environmentally friendly, just that it breaks into smaller pieces.
  • Charging a small fee for bags encourages customers to refuse a bag or bring their own.
  • For cafes, restaurants and takeaway food businesses, place your straws behind the counter and only providing them on request will cut down your cost.
  • There are great bamboo and or stainless-steel straw options that you could have branded with your business and offer for sale. That way customers think of your business when they reuse them.

Find more great ideas.

Plastic Free Mornington Peninsula is a program that is available to all food retailers in the next 12 months to support your business to adapt to the State Government Ban that comes into effect from February 2023.  The are available to help you find the right solutions quickly and easily.  They know the local suppliers and products and also can help you reduce costs and waste. Register for an initial chat here.

What about food waste?

A few ideas to try:

  • review portion sizes to ensure that food is not being thrown away
  • prepping, looking for innovative ways to use offcuts. E.g. Store Fifteen makes their own almond milk. The almond pulp is then used in cakes.
  • donating excess food to food rescue groups

A Reduce, Reuse, Recycle approach will connect your business to your community while you save time, money, and reduce your environmental impact. Training staff to uphold your practices and taking some ownership is part of the process.

The Shire's webpage has a handy guide if you are confused as to what you can or can't recycle. There are also some great ideas from Sustainability Victoria.

The team from the Mornington Peninsula Shire have prepared a short informative video for food businesses and community groups that serve food. Share it with your staff as a training exercise or include it in your staff handbook.

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So how does this information help my business get into the Best Bites Food Guide?

Each food business is routinely assessed by a Shire Environmental Health Officer each year. To qualify for consideration in the Best Bites Food Guide, the business must achieve the following:

  • Obtain a score of 95% or above in the annual food premises assessment
  • Safely manage food allergens and provide allergen information to customers on request.

A Shire Environmental Health Officer visits the business to validate a short list of key criteria across the five pillars of Access & Inclusion, Nutrition & Healthy eating, Smoke Free Dining & Alcohol Management, Recycling & Waste Initiatives, Energy & Water Efficiency. Businesses can be listed in one or more sections – they don’t have to be listed in all five, but the more areas your business is validated in, the more recognition and exposure your business gets! Each area validated will ensure the business is listed under that section of the Best Bites Food Guide.

The Best Bites Food Guide criteria for Recycling & Waste Initiatives are:

  • Recycle cardboard, paper, steel, glass and plastic
  • Limit the use of disposable containers and packaging
  • Avoid the use of plastic bags
  • Use local suppliers to reduce food miles
  • Support customers to provide reusable containers for products

Read more about how to get into the Best Bites Food Guide and the other pillars of excellence, or get in touch with the Shire's Environmental Health Team to ask any questions. Phone them on 5950 1050 or contact the team online.


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