GUIDE TO ELIMINATING SINGLE-USE PLASTIC FOR VENDORS
This page is to assist vendors who are working at a plastic-free event to eliminate their single-use plastic.
Before you start, it's important to understand the products you are choosing. If you are choosing disposable, always look for 100% compostableitems. When sourcing these, be wary of products labelled only as ‘biodegradable’ or 'degradable'. This does NOT mean the same thing as compostable, and may be a plastic product.
Where there is the option to do so, try to choose natural products such as paper, bagasse, cardboard, wood, palm or bamboo. Bioplastic products are available, but it is our practice to minimise the use of these as they are difficult to compost and, if littered, do not meet conditions in the environment for them to break down effectively.
Here you will find a full guide, plus our downloadable guides in the resources section below - there is one for food vendors, one for produce vendors and one for non-food vendors (goods and consumables). We have also included there a cost comparison document to help them determine cost of plastic vs compostable products. For sourcing products, you can find plastic-free catalogues and local supplier information on our suppliers page .
If you would like assistance to make the switch, consider joining Make the Switch as a member. We will personally visit you, go through you current items and advise you on what you need, plus where to get it and give you access to discounts and promotional benefits. It's all free and you have nothing to lose (except your plastic!)
1 water bottles
Provide a water station at your stall for people to refill and sell reusable bottles.
Stock glass water bottles (if allowed under event/market policy).
2 coffee cups & lids
Accept customers with BYO cups and consider offering a discount for this.
Have a collection of mugs and allow customers to borrow them and bring them back.
Preference waxed paper/ card without lining, or alternatively, paper cups with 100% compostable lining (check lining is not plastic). Similarly, lids should be made with 100% compostable material such as biocane/ bagasse. Ensure lid is not PS (polystyrene) - these will have have 'PS' and the number '6' embossed on them - avoid!
Guide to choosing the right lids
Polystyrene (PS) AVOID
Note: PLA lids are easy to source from most suppliers, though bagasse lids can currently only be sourced through a Greenmark distributor (check our suppliers page for these).
3 foodware (plates, cups, cutlery etc.)
If possible, use washable reusable items such as stainless steel cutlery and ceramic plates. The market/ event may provide a wash up station.
Try to use less - can you provide a napkin instead of a plate? Preference wooden/ paper/ cane or other 100% compostable items that meet home compost standard. Products made from bagasse (sugarcane) are a good option as they are strong and leak-proof. For cold cups, unlined paper is preferred. If lined ensure, all lining is 100% compostable. For cutlery, bamboo/ wood is the best option. Try to source sustainable products if possible.
4 takeaway containers
Have a collection of containers and allow customers to borrow them and bring them back (for markets).
Provide wooden/paper/sugarcane or other 100% compostable containers that meet home compost standard. There are many suitable home compostable products available that are leak-proof, freezer-proof and microwavable. Products made from Biocane are a good example of this. If requiring a clear option, look for PLA (however try to minimise this). Try to source sustainable products if possible.
Sell reusable steel or bamboo straws.
Don’t use them! Stop automatically putting straws in drinks. Remove straws from sight and only provide upon request. If requested, provide paper straws. Note that paper straws vary in quality - if you find one brand unsuitable, try another. Absolutely avoid oxo-degradable/ biodegradable straws, these are plastic.
6 plastic bags
Ask if customers really need a bag, many will have their own bag they can use.
Sell reusable cloth bags (these can be branded).
Offer a borrow / return cloth bag service for regulars who forget their bags (for markets).
If a disposable option is needed, provide sustainably sourced paper bags (can be branded) or recycled cardboard boxes. Note that thicker degradable / biodegradable & compostable bags are NOT an option.
7 soft plastic wrap
This is any kind of plastic that you can scrunch, commonly used in the form of barrier bags to store produce and as a clear wrapping for consumables.
If any of your soft plastic is pre-packed before you receive it and you do not have control over the packaging, we recommend talking to your supplier and see if they can provide you with returnable or compostable packaging. If you think your soft plastic is unavoidable, please talk to your event/ market organiser about your situation. They may ask you to instead provide signage informing customers on how to recycle soft plastic.
Sell reusable mesh or cotton bags and encourage your customers to reuse them. These can be branded. You could offer regular customers a small discount when the bring back to reuse.
Use home compostable barrier bags (good), or paper bags (better). Ensure compostable bags are certified to Australian HOME compostable standard AS5810 (this is the only acceptable standard for barrier bags). Ensure plastic tape is not used around the top of the bags. Paper bags are the preferred as they compost more readily and are recyclable - please source sustainably.
If you pack your own goods, also consider using reusable or compostable takeaway packaging instead of bags. Glass bottles can also be used for some goods. Try to source sustainable products.