Reducing plastic waste

Writing to food companies

Why should you write a letter to a food company?

  • If you are unhappy with the way a food company is dealing with things like single use plastics, a good thing you can do is write a letter to them

How can you structure the letter?

  • You can do this many ways depending on which food company it is, and whether it is a very big company or a small one, but there are some good rules to go by when writing letters
  • You can see these rules here

What are the main points to include in the letter?

  • Important points might be things like what you want them to do, what your solution is, and why you want them to do it.
  • It’s also worth saying that you will recommend against using their product until they change. If they get enough letters like this, they might see a commercial benefit in changing.
  • You can also see Basic Activism Principles for more

How can you find the contact details for the company?

  • Most companies have websites, but they often only have contact forms for customer service
  • Companies generally want people to know about them, but they don’t want people to contact them, expecially if they are going to complain about their packaging
  • For a lot of companies, you need to find out who the actual owner is, for example in the letter below we found out that Just Juice was owned by Suntory
  • Then we searched ‘Suntory’ and ‘chief executive Australia’ and found some old news articles
  • We then searched the name in the articles to see if he was still the chief executive, and he was
  • Then we found the company’s office address from their website and sent the letter to him directly

To Just Juice on plastic packaging and plastic straws

Dear Mr Fullerton,

We are the G-Force from (primary school). We are trying to eliminate plastic waste from our school. Our school canteen sells your 200ml Just Juice boxes. We like to use your boxes, but we have realised that your plastic straws and plastic straw wrappers can’t be recycled. Also, every piece of plastic ever made is still in the environment today and this is causing a massive waste problem.

We’ve seen cardboard straws being used at cafes and we wonder if you can put them in your juice boxes with paper wrapping rather than plastic. That way the boxes, straws and wrappers can all be recycled together. Also paper can be recycled until it turns into compost, whereas plastic stays in the environment forever.

We are recommending to the canteen to discontinue using Just Juice until you have stopped using plastic.

Yours sincerely

Yassine, on behalf of G-Force
11 September 2020

To Mrs Mac’s Pies on plastic wrapping

Dear Mr Slaughter,

We  are from the Aranda Primary School G-Force and we are trying to reduce plastic waste from our canteen. Our canteen sells your pies and sausage rolls. On your website, you said you were sustainable and your food waste gets turned into energy. But meanwhile, you are individually wrapping each of your products in single-use plastic. Every piece of plastic ever made is still in the environment today and this is causing a massive waste problem. 

You could wrap your products in paper or cardboard which can be composted and can help gardens. We are recommending that the canteen stop using Mrs Mac’s Pies until you have stopped using plastic. 

Yours sincerely, 

Yassine, on behalf of G-Force
11 September 2020

To Bulla on plastic lids for frozen yoghurt

Dear Mr Hood,

We are from the Aranda Primary School G-Force. We are trying to eliminate plastic waste from our school canteen. They sell your frozen yoghurt. We all like to have them but we don’t like that they are covered in plastic. Every piece of plastic ever made is still in the environment today and this is causing a massive waste problem. If you would like to help us reach our goal of eliminating plastic from our school, you could use cardboard lids, cardboard containers and wooden paddles.

We are recommending that the canteen stop using your frozen yoghurt until you have stopped using plastic. 

Yours sincerely,

Yassine, on behalf of G-Force
11 September 2020

Here is the response we got from Bulla

Dear Yassine  

Thank you so much for your letter. It is nice to hear from you and I am so glad that you took the time to write to me personally. 

Bulla is an Australian family-owned business for over 110 years, and we care very passionately about the environment so it can be shared with future generations. 

You will be pleased to hear that Bulla is in the process of converting the Frozen Yogurt packaging from plastic to paperboard. This change is due to take place by the end this year. It does however take over twelve months to make a change such as this. That is a long time I know, but there are so many things to do. First, we need to source appropriate packaging that is suitable for our equipment. Secondly, we need to trial the packaging on our factory equipment so that it runs smoothly, Finally, we must ensure that our amazing product has the same quality and taste in the new packaging materials. 

We have been working on this for some time and hope to have the change finalized by the end of the year. So, I do hope you, and your friends, will be patient with us and continue to buy our products to enjoy. 

At Bulla we ensure that all our packaging is recyclable. To achieve this, all packaging is assessed using the Planet Ark Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) tool.

We are moving away from plastic where possible and introducing paperboard packaging. We have a range of delicious Ice Cream products that use paper packaging, such as our Bulla Splits, Bulla Icy Pops and Bulla Crunch Sticks and the paper packaging is 100% recyclable on all of these. Recently, we launched a yummy range of Ice Cream Tubs “Murray Street” all packed in paperboard tubs, which are 100% recyclable and made from renewable material. 

Thank you again for your letter and for caring so much about our environment. I hope you are happy with the approach we have taken here at Bulla. 

Kind regards
Allan Hood | Chief Executive Officer
February 2021

Reducing plastic waste

Letter on the National Plastic Summit

Yassine wrote this letter when she heard the Environment Minister was going to hold a National Plastics Summit and wanted kids there. She never got a response, but two kids in her class went because someone in the environment department who was working with their mum realised they hadn’t invited any kids from our state and that the mum had kids the right age. Yassine found out because they happened to be in her class. Those kids also care about plastic waste but that isn’t why they were invited. Guess the Minister wasn’t that serious about having kids who actually want to do something.

The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for the Environment
Parliament House
ACT 2600

Dear Minister, 

I heard that you are going to have a national summit on plastic and recycling and that you want to invite school children. 

I’m going into year 5 this year and I am reducing plastic waste from the school canteen. So I sent lots of ideas to the school canteen. I understood that we couldn’t get rid of all the plastic in the canteen.

I would like to come to the meeting because I would like to discuss ideas with other people so I can come back and do it at my own school. 

I have attached some of the letters I sent.

I hope you are having a great holiday.

Yours sincerely,

Reducing plastic waste

Reducing plastic waste in the canteen

My little sister, Yassine, wrote a proposal to her school canteen committee about reducing plastic waste in the canteen. They didn’t do much in 2019 when she wrote, but they have now agreed to work on it with the Year 5 and 6 environment team. Since she’s on that team, she is hoping to get more action in 2020.

This proposal is to reduce plastic waste from the canteen.

For lunches that are made in the canteen and sold in portions, we could have reusable containers instead of single use plastic.

Either kids could bring their own containers from home to school, or the canteen could sell standard reusable containers.

If kids bring their own containers from home, the canteen staff could just put in a standard measure (eg. a standard ladle) of food, no matter what size the container.

Kids bringing reusable containers would have to bring their clean labelled containers to the canteen when they come to school so that the canteen staff have time to fill them in the morning. Then kids would take their containers home to wash after school.

To encourage people to use reusable containers, perhaps the canteen could give them a small credit each time they use a reusable container, or the canteen could charge 20 cents or 50 cents extra to people who don’t bring their own container.

By Yassine

These are the notes that she has taken:

Here are the existing types of packaging and single use plastic in the canteen.

. plastic forks

. cling wrap for carrot sticks

. hard plastic containers for frozen grapes

. plastic lids and waxed paper cups (non recyclable) for frozen yoghurt

. soft plastic juice stick wrappers

. hard plastic containers for fruit salad

. Tetra paks for just juice

. milk cartons

. plastic containers for spag bol

. plastic containers for salads

. hard foil packs for mac and cheese

. soft plastic for cruiser pies

. soft plastic for sausage rolls

The ones in bold are commercially bought so probably can’t be changed without changing the supplier and the product.

For the others, here are some suggestions.

  1. Bring your own containers for spag bol, salads, fruit salads and frozen grapes. If possible, the canteen could raise the prices of these items by 50 cents, then give a 50 cent credit back to everyone who brings their own container. Containers would have to be clearly labelled and taken to the canteen before school. 
  1. We could also have a container library for people who forget and after the person finishes their lunch, they have to bring the container back. We could also put out a bin for the containers but they will have to be washed.
  1. If a container library is too hard, we could have compostable or recyclable cardboard boxes like (local cafe).
  1. For the carrots, we could just have carrots without the cling wrap.
  1. We could have people bring in forks instead of having plastic forks.

If having people bringing in forks is too hard, we could have wooden forks instead of plastic ones.

Reducing plastic waste

Wooden forks

By Yassine

I wanted to replace plastic forks with wooden forks because that would reduce the plastic waste from the school canteen. I heard that the committee was worried that the kids could break the forks and they would become sharp and splintery, and also the kids might use them as weapons. So I tested a few wooden forks to see how strong they were and if they were sharp and splintery.

The forks I tested were:

  1. Fiesta Green Biodegradable Disposable Birch (packs of 100 only from Nisbets Catering, Fyshwick, $7.04 per 100, GST included)
  2. Kraft Wooden Forks (packs of 12 from CostumeBox, $3.99 per 12, GST included)
  3. Eco Wooden Forks (packs of 25 from CostumeBox, $4.99 per 25, GST included, packs of 100 available for $11.99)
  4. Castaway (packs of 1000, for $60 per 1000, GST included)
  5. Green pack (packs of 1000, for $47.27 per 1000, GST included)
  6. Biome (packs of 25, for $3.00 per 25, GST included)

I also tested plastic forks from the canteen.

This is the method that I used to test how easy it was to break the forks:

First, I got three of each type of fork. Next, I labelled the 9 forks. Then, I measured 80 mm on each of them from the start of the handle. After that, I put the fork on the edge of a table at the 80mm mark. Then I got a 1.5 kilogram weight and hung it on a ‘kraft’ fork number one. Then, I kept adding weights until the fork broke. Next, I recorded how much weight I put on and moved onto ‘kraft’ fork number two. Then, I repeated the first 6 steps but with ‘kraft’ fork number three. After that, I repeated all the steps before, but with ‘eco’ forks. Next, I repeated all the steps before, but with ‘fiesta’ forks. Finally, I broke each of the three types of forks with my bare hands and wrote down how hard it was to break them.

Note: The lid that I used for the weights was 13 grams. I didn’t use the lid for all the weights because some of them could hang by themselves.

This is the data that I collected when I tested the forks:

Test 1 (g)Test 2 (g)Test 3 (g)Average weight (g)Breaking by hand
Eco3013250025002671Moderate hard
Fiesta1713181317001742Really hard
Castaway2200190015001867Really hard
Green Pack1600160016001600Moderate hard
PlasticJust bentJust bentJust bentDidn’t breakJust bent, didn’t break

This is what they looked like when I broke them by hand:

The Kraft forks were feathery and not at all sharp.

The Eco forks were a bit hard and sharp.

The Fiesta forks were quite hard but also kind of feathery.

The Green pack was only a little bit sharp, and a little bit hard to break

The Castaway forks were really soft and feathery and really hard to break

The Biome forks were really sharp and splintery and easy to break.


I think the Castaway forks are better because they are really hard to break by hand, and they are very soft and feathery. I think that the Fiesta forks are the second best because they aren’t very sharp or splintery and they are also hard to break.

The Castaway forks are about 6c each and the Fiesta forks are about 7c each.