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Reducing waste

Adopt sustainable behaviours and purchasing habits to reduce your waste

One way that you can reduce the amount of waste you create is to pay more attention to how you buy and consume products. By thinking about what you buy and where you buy it from, you can reduce the amount of waste you create every day.

On the Zero Carbon Merri-bek website we have a Zero Waste section. This section has information to help you adopt more sustainable purchasing habits. You can find tips on avoiding general waste and food waste, and where you can repair, reuse, borrow, and swap items.

Go to our compost bins and worm farms page to find out about composting and discounted composting equipment.

Go to our Recycling A to Z page for a list of sustainable ways to dispose of a range of household items.

    • only buy what you need, make a shopping list and stick to it
    • say no to single-use items (coffee cups, straws, bottled water, plastic bags)
    • buy products with less packaging or recyclable packaging
    • buy in bulk, and refill and reuse containers
    • buy second hand or swap goods
    • repair rather than replace
    • buy products made from recycled materials
    • buy products that last and can be repaired, which is often cheaper in the long-run
    • choose energy and water efficient products
    • take reusable bags when you go shopping
    • avoid food waste (see our Eat it don't bin it program for tips and resources), compost your food scraps and green waste at home, or use Council’s Food and Garden Organics Bin 
    • responsibly recycle and dispose of household and office items
  • Give away or sell your unwanted goods, find secondhand items for free, swap and share goods and services to reduce waste to landfill and save resources.

    There are now several websites and online groups to help keep quality, used items circulating, share skills, save money and reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Facebook hosts local area Buy, Swap, Sell and free goods groups or for the exchange of goods locally
    • Hard Rubbish Rescue Merri-bek and Coburg Reduce Reuse Recycle are local Facebook groups allowing locals to rehome unwanted items and share resources.
    • Ziilch is a website for donating and finding free secondhand goods. Notifications are only sent for items you are interested in.
    • You can also sell goods online at Gumtree and Ebay or find a local Good Karma network on Facebook.
    • Freecycle is an online email network for donating and finding free secondhand goods with local groups around the world.
  • Take your broken household goods to a Repair Cafe to have them mended rather than send them to landfill.

    The Brunswick Tool Library hosts regular Repair Cafes where you can take a range of items that you can carry in, such as electrical appliances, toys, clothing, bicycles and furniture to have them repaired or learn how to repair and maintain them yourself.

    For information about upcoming Repair Cafes visit the Brunswick Tool Library website or follow them on Facebook

    The Brunswick Tool Library is a volunteer-led initiative that provides the tools and education needed to repair and care for your home and belongings. To find out about becoming a member or volunteer, visit the Brunswick Tool Library website.

  • Why buy something new when you can borrow it? Borrowing saves money and reduces the resources involved and emissions generated by producing new items. There are many goods libraries in Merri-bek or nearby that you can access.

    • Brunswick Tool Library loans tools for a wide range of projects as part of an annual membership. They also run workshops and have a monthly repair café.
    • Borrow My Esky is a community library for camping & outdoor equipment.
    • Carlton Kitchen Library offers the local community an opportunity to loan kitchen appliances and equipment to support their latest cooking project, program or event.
    • Toy Libraries offer services from two locations, Brunswick West and Pascoe Vale.
    • The Library of Cake Tins 3031 is a free hire library – you can loan a tin or donate a tin to the collection.
  • Many charitable organisations in Merri-bek will accept quality second-hand furniture, clothing, books and household items in good condition.

    Make your donation count by doing the right thing when you donate goods. Charities spend millions of dollars every year disposing of goods that have been dumped out of hours or are unfit for resale.

    Givit facilitates the dontation of used or new items to people in need. Offer goods or search their database for specific items that are needed.

    Drop off goods at the store

    Drop off your donation during store opening hours. Do not leave bags, furniture or other items outside a charity shop when it is closed, or next to a charity bin. It is illegal and you could be reported and fined for illegally dumping rubbish.

    Drop off goods at a charity bin

    If you are unable to drop off goods during store opening hours you can drop items off at a charity donation bin. Not all donation bins are operated by a registered charitable recycler. To make your donation count ensure it is clean, able to be reused and accepted by the charity operating the charity bin.

    Have goods collected from your home

    Rotary Inner Melbourne Emergency Relief (RIMERN) 
    Rotary Inner Melbourne Emergency Relief (RIMERN) provides furniture, appliances and homewares to welfare agency clients who have experienced homelessness, domestic violence, incarceration, refugee displacement and other crises. Items must be clean and in good working order. You can find out more information on the RIMERN website or email to offer donations.

    Brotherhood of St Laurence

    Brotherhood of St Laurence collects any household furniture in reasonable condition. They do not collect damaged furniture or electrical items.

    Brotherhood of St Laurence reserves the right to decide on the quality of the furniture at the time of collection. To arrange a collection please phone 1300 366 283 or email Brotherhood of St Laurence Collections.

    Diabetes Australia - Victoria
    Diabetes Australia - Victoria collects clothing, shoes, home wares, small electrical appliances, books, toys and kitchen utensils from your doorstep within 3 working days of making an online booking. All items must be light enough to be lifted by one person. Call 1300 256 844 to organise a collection. 

    Alternatively you can drop your items off at a Savers Store.

    St Vincent De Paul Society of Victoria
    St Vincent De Paul Society of Victoria can collect household furniture in reasonable condition. They do not collect damaged furniture, stained mattresses or electrical items.

    St Vincent De Paul Society Victoria reserves the right to decide on the quality of the furniture at the time of collection. To arrange a collection please send an email or phone 1800 621 349.


  • Make money from your pre-loved goods by having a garage sale. There are a number of programs available to make it easier for you to host a sale:

    • Garage Sale Trail is national event held each year in November, registration is free and you will be provided with resources to make promoting your garage sale easy! Go to Garage Sale Trail for more information or to register a sale.
    • Gumtree and Garage Sale Finder are websites where you can find or advertise a garage sale all year around. Go to Garage Sale Finder or Gumtree for more information.
    • Garage Sale It is a website where you can host a garage sale online. Go to Garage Sale It for more information. 
  • When you want to buy something new and you’re sure you really need it, buy sustainable. Buying green means choosing products that cause less damage to the environment and human health at all stages of their life including raw material extraction, production, use and disposal.

    Sustainable (or ‘green’) products include:

    • recycled content products
    • greenhouse friendly products: products that save energy and therefore reduce greenhouse gases, when compared to a similar product
    • certified green power, and
    • products that help save water when compared to a similar product, which are non-toxic or otherwise “green.”

    Visit the Ethical Consumer Guide for information on green and socially responsible purchasing.

  • Every product has a life-cycle that has the following stages:

    • raw material extraction
    • manufacturing
    • transportation
    • packaging
    • use
    • end of life disposal

    This is a “cradle to grave” product life-cycle. The grave for many products is landfill. But interest in recycling items or materials to make new products is growing. By buying items made from recycled materials we can support a circular economy. A sustainable economy responsibly manages our resources. Go to the Victorian Government's website to find out more about their 10 year plan and circular economy policy.

    You can reduce waste by purchasing products that support the circular economy. Ask yourself the following questions before you buy, so that you choose a sustainable option.

    • Did materials need to be mined to produce this product? If so, where were they mined?
    • Where was this product assembled and how far has it traveled?
    • How has this product been packaged?
    • How long is this product intended to last? Has it been designed to be repaired or disposed of?
    • Can it be recycled in Australia when it reaches the end of it's life?

    You can find resources and information about the environmental impacts of everyday items on The Story of Stuff website.

  • To provide our residents with a year-round option to recycle or dispose of bulky household waste, that cannot go in your kerbside recycling bin, we've added a new service option called Ecoactiv. 

    Ecoactiv is a website that offers a convenient way to recycle or dispose of your unwanted or broken goods, at the end of their life. Their solutions are underpinned by circular economy practices.  This means items collected by Ecoactiv are primarily repurposed, recycled or regenerated so they are reused again and again - like a circle. 

    How Ecoactiv works
    1. Go to the Ecoactiv website
    2. Create a list of all the items you want to recycle
    3. Tell Ecoactiv where these items are located (whether it’s at home or at work)
    4. Tell them when you want it picked up or when you intend on dropping it off
    5. Check out and wait for the labelling instructions, emailed to you
    Will the Ecoactiv service cost me money?

    The cost of the service will depend on three things:

    1. The type of item/s you want to recycle
    2. The disposal method you choose
    3. The weight of your item/s

    Pickup Service

    Opting into Ecoactiv’s pickup service is convenient and easy. A cost will be determined by the weight and dimensions of the items you want collected.

    Drop Off Service (Currently unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions)

    Alternatively, you can opt to drop your waste off yourself which means you will not have to pay for collection.

    To find out how much recycling your items could cost, visit the Ecoactiv website


    Why use Ecoactiv?

    If you have items you need to get rid of and aren’t able to take them to a drop off point or can’t wait until the next council hard waste collection this service provides an easy solution.

    Ecoactiv's recycling booking service is available between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays, all year round.

    Visit the Ecoactiv website to make a booking.

    Additional drop off options will also be available when COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

Subsidy for reusable cloth nappies and period products

On average, children use 5,000 to 6,000 disposable nappies before becoming toilet trained. In our 2021 waste audit we found disposable nappies and period products made up 10% of waste going to landfill.

To support Merri-bek residents who want to cut their waste to landfill by making the switch to reusable cloth nappies or period products we're offering a discount on the purchase price for these items. 

How much is the subsidy for cloth nappies and accessories?

Households can claim up to $100 per year for cloth nappies and accessories. The subsidy will reduce the cost of your order but will not pay for it completely. 

  • If your order costs between $100 and $199 - we will pay up to $50.
  • If your order costs over $200 - we will pay up to $100.
  • Postage is not included.
How much is the subsidy for reusable period products?

Individual residents can claim up to $35 per year for reusable period products. The subsidy will reduce the cost of your order but will not pay for it completely. 

  • If your order costs between $30 and $69 - we will pay $15
  • If your order costs over $70 - we will pay $35.
  • Postage is not included.
How do I order and claim my subsidy?

To view the range of products available visit and claim your discount by using one of these codes when you check out:

  • MRBN50 - for cloth nappy orders between $100 and $199 
  • MRBN100 - for cloth nappy orders over $200
  • MRBP15 - for reusable period product orders between $30 and $69
  • MRBP35 - for reusable period product orders over $70

Orders below $100 for cloth nappies and $30 for period products will not qualify for a subsidy. 

Get involved with sustainability events

We run events each year that provide information about sustainability. Visit our What's On page to find out about upcoming sustainability events.

  • Buy second-hand and reduce your waste. The Garage Sale Trail is happening right across Australia, in person and online over two weekends in November.

    When is the Garage Sale Trail?

    The Garage Sale Trail takes place over two weekends in November each year

    In 2022 sales will be happening online and in your community on 12 - 13 and 19 - 20 November.

    For information on how to host a virtual garage sale or an in-person COVID-safe event, go to the Garage Sale Trail website.

    Register your garage sale at the Garage Sale Trail website, or visit the website to find sales near you.

    Schools, kindergartens and community groups can host group sales to fundraise and declutter.

    You don't even need to have a garage sale to get involved in this festival of pre-loved stuff. There are free online masterclasses being held that are dedicated to helping you learn how to re-home, re-love, and re-purpose your stuff.

    More information about the Garage Sale Trail

    To find out all the details about the Garage Sale Trail and how you can get involved, visit the Garage Sale Trail website.

  • Detox your Home is a free and convenient service for households to safely dispose of unwanted toxic chemicals. You can find out more about this service on the Sunstainability Victoria website.

    Free events are held across Victoria to provide you with a local and accessible option to safely dispose of unwanted toxic household chemicals.

    Upcoming Detox Your Home collection in Moonee Valley

    The next Detox your Home collection close to Merri-bek will be at:

    • Moonee Valley Transfer Station, 188 Holmes Road, Aberfeldie on Saturday 9 September from 8am to 2pm

    You must register to attend Detox your Home events. Go to the event listing on the Sustainability Victoria website for more information and to register.

    You can receive updates on this program by subscribing to the Sustainability Victoria Detox your Home newsletter.

    You can learn more about these events on our Detox your home page.

  • Clean Up Australia Day is Australia's largest annual community-based environmental event. Each year thousands of volunteers collect rubbish from parks, waterways, nature reserves and bushland across Australia. More information about this event can be found on the Clean Up Australia Day website.

    How to get involved

    To get involved with Clean Up Australia Day you can:

  • Plastic Free July is an annual worldwide campaign asking people to take the challenge to reduce single-use plastic over a month. You can find out more about this event on the Plastic Free July website.

    Council asks residents to take the challenge to reduce single-use plastic each year.

    You may not have thought about your plastic waste before, you may have been wanting to do it but not sure how to start, or you may be further along the journey and wanting to make a larger commitment. It does not even have to be July for you to pledge to reduce plastic in your life. Wherever you are on your journey to reduce plastic waste we support and congratulate you.

    By 2025, if we don’t change things, there will be one piece of plastic in the ocean for every three fish. It’s time to make a change! Pledge to reduce single-use plastic in your life.

  • We have partnered with Boomerang Alliance to support food retail businesses reduce single-use plastic packaging including coffee cups, takeaway containers and straws. You can find out more about this organisation on the Boomerang Alliance website.

    The four-month trial started in March and will run till June 2021. 27 food businesses in the Brunswick and Coburg Sydney Road shopping precincts are taking part in the trial. Businesses receive tailored advice and support to identify and implement environmentally responsible and cost-effective single-use packaging alternatives.

    Plastic Free Sydney Road is part of Boomerang Alliance's national Plastic Free Places program. These programs have successfully eliminated over 6 million plastic items from businesses across Australia. You can find out more about this program on the Plastic Free Places website.

    Partipating Businesses


    • Baba Hawker
    • Balha's Pastry
    • Bertoncello
    • Capulus & Co
    • Choukette
    • Culture Club
    • Curry King
    • Gloria
    • Green Acre Pizza Bar
    • Home One
    • Icecream Social  
    • Lagom Gelateria
    • ONA Coffee
    • Ray's Cafe
    • Small Axe
    • Small Axe Deli
    • Three Hands Cafe
    • Wholefoods Unwrapped Collective


    • 4 Blend Cafe
    • Afghan charcoal kebab
    • Astro cafe
    • Flirting Shadows
    • Half Moon Cafe
    • Melbourne Kebab Station
    • The Boot Factory
    • The Deli Coburg
    • The Eastern Bloc
    • True North
    • Zataar

    For more information about the Plastic Free Sydney Road trial please email or call 9240 1111.

Plastic Free Sydney Road 

From March 2021 to May 2022, we partnered with Boomerang Alliance to support 29 hospitality businesses along Sydney Road reduce their single-use plastic packaging including coffee cups, takeaway containers, and straws.

  • The Plastic Free Sydney Road Trial, stretched from the start of Sydney Road in Brunswick to Bell Street in Coburg. The 29 cafes, delis and restaurants in the trial, were given tailored advice to help identify ways to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic, and transition to alternative products including commerically compostable coffee cups. The initial 6-month trial was extended to 14 months, to allow businesses to focus on recovering from ongoing COVID-19 impacts.

  • Over the 14 months, the 29 businesses collectively reduced over 370, 000 pieces of plastic. Coffee cups and coffee cup lids were the items most commonly eliminated. Six businesses became Plastic Free Champions, successfully eliminating all targeted items. That’s a fantastic effort for a challenging year. Read more about the trial in our Plastic Free Sydney Road report.

    Council is now determining how best to continue to support businesses to reduce single-use plastic.

    As part of broader efforts to reduce ocean pollution, the upcoming state-government ban on 7 single-use plastic items from February 2023, will see half of the single-use items targeted in the trial banned.

  • You can show your support for the efforts these businesses have made, by visiting one of the businesses in the list below.  Our 6 Plastic Free Champions are represented by an asterisk.


    • Baba Hawker
    • Balha's Pastry
    • Bertoncello
    • Capulus & Co * 
    • Choukette
    • Gloria *
    • Green Acre Pizza Bar
    • Home One *
    • Icecream Social  *
    • Lagom Gelateria
    • ONA Coffee
    • Ray's Cafe
    • Small Axe Kitchen *
    • Small Axe Deli
    • Three Hands Cafe
    • Wholefoods Unwrapped Collective *


    • 4 Blend Cafe
    • Afghan charcoal kebab
    • Astro cafe
    • Flirting Shadows
    • Half Moon Cafe
    • Melbourne Kebab Station
    • The Boot Factory
    • The Deli Coburg
    • The Eastern Bloc
    • True North
    • Zataar

For more information about the trial please email or call 9240 1111.

Responsible Cafes

Responsible Cafes is a community group fighting the war on waste run by a team of passionate volunteers since 2013.  Merri-bek City Council supports the program by encouraging cafes and their community in the reuse and waste reduction movement. 

You can support the important work that local Responsible Cafes are doing by choosing to dine there or by purchasing a coffee with your reusable cup. 

Enter your postcode to find your local Responsible Cafe here. 

Reusable cutlery and crockery at Council venues

On 1 February 2023, the State Government banned several single-use plastic items.

As part of our response to the ban, we are trialing reusable cutlery and crockery at 3 Council venues. This will help our community reduce single-use plastic at events.

Reusable cutlery and crockery are now available for free at the following venues:

Brunswick Town Hall
Coburg Town Hall
Merlynston Progress Hall

To opt-in, you need to agree to the terms and conditions to use the items when you book.

Items available at the Brunswick and Coburg Town Halls are white ceramic dinner plates, side plates, cups, saucers, bowls, drinking glasses, and wine glasses. 

At the Merlynston Progress Hall, there are white melamine dinner plates, side plates, bowls, tea cups, and drinking tumblers available for use. 

The items cannot be removed from the venues and they must be washed and returned to storage areas after use. 

  • Clothes swap events are a fun way of updating your wardrobe with new pieces and passing on clothes you no longer wear. Learn how to attend or host a clothes swap event in your community here .