ECU to phase out single-use plastics

Edith Cowan University (ECU) will begin phasing out single-use plastic water bottles and straws across all of its campuses from the start of semester two.

It follows initiatives on the east coast from the Universities of Canberra, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast and Monash University.

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ECU said it believes it is the first Western Australian University to limit the use of plastic water bottles on campus.

The phase out will be done as part of a staged approach to restrict single-use plastic water bottles. Beginning with around 40 events it holds on its campuses, ECU will instead provide water refill stations.

The university is also investigating solutions including an increase to the number of water fountains on campus, offering free or discounted multi-use water bottles on campus and discussing with commercial tenants for alternatives to single-use bottles.

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said it was a big step forward for the University.

“With around 30,000 students and 1800 staff, we can make a huge difference by taking this first step to limit single-use plastic water bottles at our campus events,” Professor Chapman said.

“It’s also financially responsible. More than 90 per cent of the cost of bottled water can be traced back to the bottle, lid and label.

“This is not a ban. This is about education and providing alternatives. By offering high quality, convenient options to students, staff and visitors, we are confident we can reduce the demand for single-use plastic water bottles on our campuses.

New app links cafes and charities to fight food waste

A smartphone app that links food businesses with charities is aiming to reduce food waste by donating excess food.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) have trialled the ReFood app in Perth council City of Swan to connect local restaurants and cafes with community not-for-profit organisations that redistribute excess food to those in need.

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The app fills a gap in the market for smaller businesses to give away food and divert it from landfill.

The app was developed by ECU PhD candidate Ele Stojanoska thanks to a $12,798 grant from the Waste Authority WA’s Community Grants scheme.

“The main aim of the ReFood app is to both reduce the amount of food waste going into landfill and also making it much easier for small businesses to link up with not-for-profits to share food,” Ms Stojanoska said.

“The app is very simple to use. All a business has to do is download the app, then when they have excess food they can enter it into the app along with a time that it can be collected. Then a not-for-profit organisation can see what’s available and if the food is suitable for their needs, come and collect it.

“It even shows what food has been donated so businesses can have a record of what they have given away.”

Ms Stojanoska said she was currently analysing data collecting in the pilot of the app to continue the rollout across Perth.

Waste Authority WA Acting Chair Jenny Bloom said the ReFood app would help to achieve the target of diverting 65 per cent of municipal solid waste from landfill by 2020.

“Initiatives like the ReFood app can help increase awareness and education around our understanding of the benefits of waste avoidance, reuse and recycling,” she said.

Owner of the Crooked Spire Coffee House café Mike Matich said the best thing about the app was how easy it was to use.

“No one likes the idea of food being thrown away, so when I heard about the ReFood app and how it could help us link up with local not-for profits I was stoked to take part,” he said.

“It’s super easy to use, all I have to do is enter what type of excess food I have, how much I have and what time it can be collected then wait for it to be picked up.”

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