Plastic is not fantastic for Palmerston North cafes opting for biodegradable products
Palmerston North cafes are going out of their way to reduce waste by creating wormeries and in-store recycling facilities.
A home for worms next to the herb and vegetable garden at Cafe Royale is one way owner Robert Winters is giving back to the environment.
Most of the 15 litres of waste produced daily was food scraps, which would soon be fed to the new worm farm in the outdoor area of the cafe, Winters said.
The cafe had also gone almost plastic-free by opting for biodegradable takeaway cups and lids, and straws made from plant-based materials.
"One of the last things we are trying to deal with is cling film. We have now got a sugar cane substitute," he said.
Paper bags were also a must and no plastic storage containers were used in the kitchen, but milk bottles were still creating a lot of rubbish, Winters said.
Coffee GoGo owner Rowan Sweeney created a four-bin recycling facility at the cafe, which she takes to the recycling centre on Ferguson St once a week.
"We all have a responsibility to look after what we've got. If you provide the bins for customers they do what they can to use them."
The cafe also uses biodegradable cups and lids, which Sweeney takes home and places in the garden to decompose.
"We've got about five beds where we grow garlic. About three months in there and the cups are gone," Sweeney said.
The lids take longer to decompose, but when chopped into pieces they disappear quicker, she said.
"I think even though people say, 'it's only me, what difference will it make?', we should start small."
Providing customers with separate glass, cardboard and waste bins was no hassle, but the council should pull its weight too, she said.
"I'd like to see the council do a lot more."
Palmerston North City Council offers a weekly pickup service for recycling and Sweeney said this was not enough for larger businesses and could de-motivate people.
City council water and waste services manager Robert van Bentum said cafes could receive a weekly glass and recyclables service or they could recycle items at the Ferguson St or Awapuni recycling centres.
"There's currently no commercial food or compostable collection service, but we're evaluating the viability of introducing one."
The council was also trialling a commercial separated glass collection service that some cafes were involved in, van Bentum said.