By Yvonne Pflieger

Northern Beaches Council held a Swap for Good Expo on Monday, July 1 for local businesses and organizations across the Northern Beaches who are looking for solutions to fight the War on Waste together. Craig Reucassel, known from ABC’s War on Waste series, led through the night.

Craig Reucassel
Craig Reucassel

There were stalls of businesses and organizations offering sustainable alternatives when it comes to packaging, takeaway solutions (we loved the concept of Returnr who aim to replace single use takeaway packaging with beautifully designed reusable solutions), certifications like Ocean Friendly by the Surfrider Foundation (with the aim to reduce single use plastic at its source through the promotion of hospitality and other businesses & events that undertake sustainable business practices – Your Manly Food Co-Op was one of the first business to become certified last year) and much more.

We were invited and had the honour of giving a three minute pitch in front of over 300 people about the major projects we have undertaken to make your Co-Op even more sustainable. We were on stage with Harbord Diggers, 4 Pines, Wheeler Heights & Bilgola Public Schools Canteen and Returnr.

Here is the essence of our three minute pitch that Yvonne, our marketing director, presented:

“Let me give you a quick overview of who we are. The Manly Food Co-Op is an organic bulk grocery store in the heart of Manly and has been around for over 20 years. We are quite unique as we are a co-operative which means we are owned and run by our members and are not-for-profit.

We have a very strong zero waste philosophy and are trying to avoid waste altogether and, if we can’t, to at least look for alternative solutions.

In the last 6 months we have made two big changes that we are very proud of as they seemed rather daunting and almost impossible at first.

Project one is about our bulk cleaning and laundry liquids etc. These come in sturdy 15 l plastic containers which were not returnable which was just not in line with our values. We realized that if we became a wholesaler though, the manufacturer was willing to take back the containers and refill for us. This would not just keep the containers in circulation, but surprisingly also meant significantly better prices (a massive 50% discount on some products) which we could pass on to our shoppers. While we take the risk and need to order large quantities, we are bringing on board other food co-ops who are now buying from us and can avoid this kind of unnecessary waste, too.

The other project we are super proud of, and we believe we are the first food retailer in NSW, if not all of Australia, is to offer true zero waste, single-use plastic-free milk! While our shoppers have been able to bring in their own bottles and refill milk as they need, this milk still came in 10 l plastic bags which was not good enough for us. It has taken us 6 months, but we are now sending metal churns to Country Valley, the producer, for refilling. This is a true circular process that others can replicate. We are so happy that a sizeable company like Country Valley listened to us and tried to come up with a solution in partnership!

We are already working on new zero waste project, so stay tuned. We strongly believe that little changes have a huge impact over time!”

Thank you, Northern Beaches Council, for organizing this great event that gave plenty of opportunities for networking!

Surfrider Be Fantastic
Be Fantastic – Say No to Plastic

Photos provided by © Karen Watson for Northern Beaches Council