Darwin’s cafes, restaurants and mobile food vendors are making a significant change to their takeaway menus to help reduce the problem of plastic waste.
Dozens of venues across the city are leading the change to reduce problem single-use plastics under a program called Plastic Free NT.
Plastic Free NT aims to help businesses switch to better alternatives, such as reusable or compostable items. Plastic Free Beaches in the NT is run by peak not-for-profit group Boomerang Alliance which is supported by the Territory Labor Government, Darwin City Council and funded by the Australian Government.
Parap foodie favourite Saffron Restaurant is the program’s first 'Plastic Free Champion', having eliminated plastics from its takeaway service.
Since April, 39 local businesses have joined the program across Darwin and have collectively removed nearly 6000 plastic items from use, supporting the NT Government’s Circular Economy Strategy goals of phasing out and banning single-use plastics by 2025.
The program is a free service for all food retail businesses in Darwin and surrounds to help them reduce plastic items commonly found in litter and waste streams.
The program targets items such as plastic water bottles, straws, coffee cups and lids, takeaway containers, and other foodware like cutlery, cups and plates as well as plastic bags.
"The Plastic Free Beaches project shows how businesses can lead the change we need to realise an economy free of single-use plastics", said Lauren Moss, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Security. "The NT Government is committed to phasing out these problem plastic items but we need the community to join us in achieving this goal. By helping businesses to make the switch, we will reduce plastic litter and waste in the NT."
Tracey Adamson, Coordinator of Plastic Free NT is proud that after just four months of operation, the NT program is performing the best out of eight other national projects. "It shows us that the hospitality sector in Darwin is very receptive to helping get rid of plastic litter and waste", she said.
Owner of Saffrron Restaurant, Selvam Kandasamy thinks the Plastic Free NT program is an amazing initiative for local Darwin food retailers to join. "They offer free advice around better alternatives to make the switch from plastic to meet the business’s needs, while working with the business’ own local suppliers", he said. He is happy that his restaurant is doing something good for the environment, and their customers always give us positive feedback about being sustainability focused.