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It is estimated that at least 56,000 tonnes of plastic enters our environment every year. Given the potential harm that can be induced to wildlife when plastic waste ends up as litter, Taronga is taken a stance to actively transition away from single use plastic packaging used on site.

Taronga has already taken bold steps to mitigate potential sources of litter, including:

  • transitioning from single-use plastic bags to paper or re-useable alternatives
  • banning the use of balloons on site, including for events
  • removing plastic drinking straws from our catering operations 

Taronga currently has a recycling rate of 84% and with an aim to divert 90% of its total waste from landfill by 2020. Given the range of products that Taronga procures and retails on a daily basis, packaging makes a significant contribution to the waste generated on site. Taronga operates under the waste hierarchy principle and therefore increased emphasis is on the reduction of packaging throughout its operations.  

Through Taronga’s new catering contract, which commenced in August 2017, food retail related packaging has seen a substantial decrease through the introduction of reusable polypropylene food baskets to serve hot food at the Taronga Food Market and the Fish Shop. Over the course of a year, this will result in the avoidance of more than 350,000 single use containers. At the end of their useful life, the baskets are recyclable and can be turned into new materials.

To ensure maximum freshness and avoid food spoilage, for certain food products, single use packaging has to be used. For such food items, recyclable cardboard and paper based packaging is used as second preference. While for cutlery, where there is no cardboard and paper alternative, compostable bio-plastics are used.

Taronga has also replaced individual sauce sachets from its food outlets and replaced them by condiment topping dispensers, to further mitigate unnecessary single use packaging.

Taronga encourages the use of reusable coffee cups and drinking bottle by providing financial incentives and the strategic placement of water drinking fountains across the zoo.

Taronga is working closely with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and is a strong supporter of the EPA Container Deposit Scheme (CDS), which is anticipated to come into effect in December 2017.

The CDS will ensure that plastic, glass and aluminium containers are captured throughout NSW for recycling, by providing a financial enticement and reduce them either ending up in landfill or in the environment, potentially harming wildlife. 

For more information on Taronga’s waste management and resource recovery practices please visit the following link:
https://taronga.org.au/conservation/environmental-sustainability/waste-management

Anne Karin Kehlhofer – Manager, Environmental Sustainability.