Melbourne Girls’ College says no to plastics

Students from Melbourne Girls' College monitor plastics use to cut out single-use plastics at their school.

Wednesday, 29 March 2023 at 5:30 am
Image of a school girl drinking water from a bottle

Last month, a single-use plastics ban came in to play at all Victorian schools and one Melbourne school has taken the new rule in their stride.

As part of Sustainability Victoria's Resource Smart schools' program, Melbourne Girls' College in Richmond has been monitoring their resource use and waste production for years. A key driver for the school has been their goal to minimise waste going to landfill and remove the school's landfill bins.

With a history of innovation and commitment to sustainability, the school achieved this by working with Yarra Council to expand glass and co-mingled recycling and bulk purchasing reusable coffee cups for staff and students. In 2017, the school also initiated the end of plastic forks with the 'Hire a Fork' scheme at the school canteen. 

'We been on a waste reduction journey for decades – we are literally built on a landfill site. Yes, landfill!' teacher Andrew Vance said.

'On the beautiful banks of the Birrarung River in Richmond, we are reminded of the fact that rubbish never really goes away every time we dig a hole for a new tree or ironically, a hole for a solar organic waste digester.'

Getting the canteen catering provider on board

Further exemplifying their commitment, staff and students also worked with BOCCA – the school's canteen and catering provider – to minimise waste to landfill and phase out polystyrene noodle cups and plastic cutlery. 

BOCCA now only uses home-compostable, biodegradable containers that breakdown in the school's many solar cone organic digesters. As a result, no food packaging from the school needs to leave in a rubbish truck. 

About the ban

The ban on single-use plastics at all Victorian schools includes:

  • drinking straws
  • cutlery including knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks, sporks, splades and food picks
  • plates
  • drink stirrers and sticks
  • cotton bud sticks.

The ban also applies to food service items and drink containers made from expanded polystyrene.

For more information, refer to this fact sheet (PDF, 2.32MB) on the single use plastics ban.

Exceptions to the ban

People in schools who need single-use plastic drinking straws due to disability or for a medical need will still be able to purchase and use these items.

Schools can continue to purchase single-use plastic straws from their suppliers so that these are available when needed.

Find out more

For more information, refer to: