FAQs

 

 

 

General
 

Why are single-use plastics so detrimental?

We believe that avoiding single-use plastics is an essential step towards a regenerative, healthy society and climate for all. Plastics are made from fossil fuel-based polymers, typically in enormous factories powered by fossil fuels, transported thousands of kilometres with diesel, before being used for just a few minutes. Most plastics last hundreds, if not thousands, of years, polluting all habitats and breaking into micro plastics which, when swallowed, often kill wildlife. Single-use plastics represent convenience at the expense of the planet in every way, while compostables and reusables (especially the latter) are steps closer to a more sustainable, circular economy.

Why should I choose to buy from B-Alternative over other companies?

Waste reduction and Earth-friendly alternatives are core pillars of our business - it’s what we’re founded on. While we strongly advocate for elimination of disposables wherever possible, we acknowledge that there are barriers for some businesses in making the transition to reusables. B-Alternative is a distributor of truly compostable packaging at competitive prices. We do the research on brands and products - including tests of compostability - to ensure transparency and avoid greenwashing as much as possible. If you need a compostable product, we can get it, and our core product prices will beat almost any others!

What’s the difference between home-compostable and commercially-compostable products?

A home compost system is a very different environment to that of a commercial compost system. Home compostables will degrade safely and effectively within weeks to months when exposed to air, water and microbes in your backyard or garden system - these typically include sugarcane and cardboard products. Commercial compostables require higher temperatures and a closely monitored environment to break down safely and effectively over weeks - these typically include PLA products and are offered by select councils and contractors. Home-compostable products can go into commercial systems, but commercially-compostable products cannot go into home-based systems.

What about biodegradable products - are they greener, too?

Unfortunately, typically not. The vast majority of items labelled as biodegradable do “degrade” when exposed to light, air and/or water, but take a very long time to do so (often years) and in fact break up into tiny pieces, rather than break down into organic compounds. This actually makes them worse than many other plastics, as we now know that the microplastics formed enter waterways and other natural habitats, resulting in death of wildlife.

Where do your services cover?

We’re proud to offer our services across the whole of Australia, and also have relationships with international groups. While B-Alternative was formed on the South coast of Victoria, our team is ever-growing as we spread Earth-conscious behaviour change far and wide!

Can you support councils with Earth-friendly projects and events?

Yes! We have had many successful experiences working alongside local councils to deliver Earth-friendly events and projects, including the Surf Coast Shire, Central Coast Shire, City of Melbourne, City of Greater Geelong, Melton City Council and many more. 

Do you work with community groups and NFPs?

Yes! Our team can work with your group or organisation to reduce and manage your waste, seek out Earth-friendly alternatives, offer education and consultation, and much more.

What’s involved in a waste audit of my business, school or event?

When our staff conduct a waste audit, we separate and weigh all waste on site over a given period and collect data from this process. The data is then collated in informative, easy-to-read reports that not only includes projections on waste production and carbon emissions, but also recommendations on waste stream reduction or elimination tailored to the business, school or event. When combined with follow-up reports, these audits provide powerful data on waste and carbon emission reduction.

 

Organics
 

Why is sending food waste to landfill so detrimental?

When food scraps are sent to landfill, they decompose slowly in suboptimal conditions and release methane (CH4) into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas approximately 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2), which contributes to global warming and speeds up climate change. Often, food can even break down so slowly under the weight of landfill that it still exists decades later, almost completely intact! By composting organics, a different chemical process takes place with the help of oxygen and microbes, stopping methane from being released into the atmosphere. The end product is a rich, useful additive for local farmers and horticulturalists. 

What can go in your organics bins?

Any of the following items are typically accepted in our organics collection. As this list differs between individual contractors and councils, it’s best to check locally for confirmation.
 

  • Food scraps

  • Cardboard, especially soiled/oily

  • Compostable food packaging

  • Napkins, tissues & paper towel

  • 100% natural fibres

  • Hair, bones

  • Coffee grounds

  • Tea bags

  • Garden prunings, leaves

  • Lawn clippings

  • Meat

  • Pet poo
     

What can’t go in them?

The following items are typically rejected from our organics collection. As this list differs between individual contractors and councils, it’s best to check locally for confirmation.

  • Shells (mussels, oysters, etc)

  • Non-compostable food packaging

  • Shiny/coated paper or cardboard
     

How are organics processed and composted?

Food waste and other compostables are collected from our clients by contractors and taken by truck to an industrial composting facility nearby. Here, they are mixed with additives such as lime and carbon to achieve the correct balance. This mix is then mounded, covered and regularly aerated for weeks to months under strict regulations, reaching high temperatures and constantly monitored, until it forms rich, earthy material. The finished compost is tested for contaminants, then sold to local farmers and horticulturalists to improve and fertilise soil, often to grow more food again.

If there's no organics system available to process compostable packaging, what's the next best option?

If your plant-based packaging item is cardboard, it can go into the paper/carboard or comingled recycling bin. If, however, it contains a plant-based plastic alternative, such as PLA or BioPlastic, it cannot be recycled. PLA is a contaminant in comingled recycling and has the same impact as food waste if sent to landfill (see; Why is Sending Waste to Landfill so Detrimental?). It's for these reasons that we promote and encourage reusables first and foremost, to reduce waste, while we also offer an organics system to best manage waste where required.

 
Spinner Dolphins

Businesses & Hospitality

You offer environmental consultations - what kinds of things can you help my business with?

Our mission is to:

 

“Be a catalyst for cultural change by providing systems, products and consultation in low impact alternatives for individuals, businesses and groups. To facilitate regenerative solutions in the hope that our models progressively become obsolete, replaced by new systems as behaviour and innovation improve”.

 

This is best achieved through our consultation service. We have a team of experienced, passionate professionals who can discuss impactful and cost-effective methods of reducing any business’ footprint. This includes, but isn’t limited to, waste and resource recovery, packaging, energy, reusables, supply and distribution, events and more.

How do I communicate to my staff what goes in which bin?

This is an important step in setting up effective resource recovery streams with minimal contamination. We offer staff education sessions and signage as part of our services, meaning you don’t need to do the research yourself. We highly recommend organising a staff education session early in the piece, as this has proven to be hugely beneficial for our clients.

 

How do I communicate to my customers what goes in which bin?

If you would like to set up a front-of-house station for customer use, we provide consultation, personalised signage and set up to maximise efficiency and reduce contamination as much as possible. Not only does it save your staff time when emptying bins, but it’s a fantastic way to promote to your customers the Earth-friendly systems you have adopted!

What information is included in B-Alternative’s monthly client reports?

Our client reports contain data on waste production by weight, separated into streams, as well as comparisons between reports or events. From this, we can estimate the greenhouse gas emissions produced and/or saved over a period in an easy-to-understand format. This information is not only great to show impact reduction in your business or event, but can be used for promotional purposes, emissions reduction targets and offset programs.

View an example of our environmental reports here.

Where can I hear about special offers, deals and discounts?

The best place to hear about our special offers first is to subscribe to our mailing list here and make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Facebook. Don’t worry, we won’t send you frequent mail, just the occasional important update or offer targeted to your industry!

Which recycling streams do you offer?

We typically provide true composting of organics and true recycling of aluminium cans, glass, paper/cardboard, HDPE and LDPE plastics, polystyrene and soft plastics. We can also provide more information on specialised recycling programs. Note that as we use local contractors, availability of streams may differ depending on locality.

Do you offer flexible part-contracts, or do I need to hand over all our waste management to you?

Flexibility is always offered at B-Alternative! Should you like us to manage your organics composting, while keeping your current waste management contract for paper/cardboard (for example), this isn’t a problem. Alternatively, we also manage all streams and offer competitive rates on collection.

Do you collect and empty bins yourselves, or do you use contractors?

We employ local contractors to remove recyclable waste for processing, while we have just begun to compost under B-Alternative in the G21 region. As we deeply value transparency and accountability, we conduct research and discussions with all contractors to determine the true outcomes of processing your waste streams before engaging them. If we don’t know or trust where a resource will end up, we won’t use that service.

How often can my bins be collected?

Our staff and contractors can collect your bins on the allocated service days as per our resource recovery document, (or as advised in your contract). If you need to increase or decrease pick-ups or bin sizes, simply give us a call and we can arrange it.

Do you charge by weight, per pick-up, or a weekly flat rate?

We offer waste management contracts on a per pick-up fee basis. This means if your bins don’t need emptying, there’s no fee - less waste = less spending!

We produce a lot of organics each week - why is your largest bin only 240L?

Food waste is typically very dense and bins quickly become very heavy! This is a potential hazard both for staff putting out bins for collections and for trucks picking up waste. If you require processing of a large amount of organics each week, we will happily provide more bins, or contact us to discuss a larger specialised bin.

You say you use Biopak as your main supplier, but they sell some plastics. What’s the go?

Choosing truly compostable packaging can be a confusing, convoluted process. At B-Alternative, we’ve done the research to make your decision easy! Biopak is our main supplier of compostable packaging, through which we can offer great rates for our clients and make Earth-friendly options more viable for many. Biopak does produce some plastic packaging, which is clearly labelled in catalogues and price lists, while most is made from plant-based products such as sugarcane. We do not offer our clients plastic packaging despite its availability, as it does not align with our company values and desire for real change. Read more about Biopak product sourcing and manufacturing here.

Can I put your compostable packaging in my backyard compost bin?
Video coming soon..

Where we can, we’ll supply home compostable solutions. In fact, the majority of the packaging we supply to clients can indeed go in a backyard compost bin. Exceptions to this are items - typically lids - marked ‘PLA’, which is a plant-based material that requires higher temperatures and a longer time period to compost down (i.e. commercial composting).

Can I put your compostable packaging in my council organics/FOGO bin at home?
Video coming soon..

Most councils accepting organics for composting will accept compostable packaging, however all facilities may differ slightly, so it is important to check directly with your council to be sure. Note that most 'green bins' are not processed the same was as 'organics bins'.

My business regularly uses a single-use item that I’d like to replace with a compostable option - will you supply it?

We do our best to source Earth-friendly alternatives for our clients wherever possible. If there is something you require, we welcome any enquiries and will attempt to source it for you.

I want to move away from single-use packaging and towards reusables. Can you help me?

We really love talking with businesses about converting to reusable systems for coffee cups, crockery and more, whether for day-to-day processes or special events. Send us an enquiry and we’ll do our best to meet your needs!

My business/event is only small - do you have minimum order requirements?

While wholesalers typically have minimum orders, we offer some flexibility around this. Simply let us know your requirements and we can talk you through available options.

My business/event is very large - can you do large bulk branded orders?

Yes! We can offer medium and large branded packaging orders. Contact us for more information.

What’s the current evidence on safety of reusables in relation to preventing the spread of Covid-19?

 

Safe hygiene practices are absolutely essential to an effective reusable crockery system. We follow global guidelines as detailed in the following document, published by the Sustainable Events Alliance: Global Best Practice Guidelines - Reusables Hygiene at Events (1st Ed.) 

Festivals & Events

How does your reusable model work?

Prior to the event, we liaise with food/beverage vendors and event organisers to supply our kit of high-quality reusable crockery, cutlery and drinking glasses made from recycled products. During the event, staff and trolleys circulate to distribute crockery, collect when used, clean on-site using commercial COVID-safe technology, and return to vendors for reuse. Patrons get to enjoy not only the feel of using “real” plates and cutlery, but also a vastly reduced waste volume and cleaner grounds. Our reusable system has saved festivals hundreds of tonnes of carbon emissions.

Can we hire your reusable crockery kit for our event?

Yes! With enough notice, we hire our rice husk crockery, cups and sporks. This tried and true system has proven to be the biggest factor in helping event organisers reduce waste! Contact us for a quote.

Can a reusable system be utilised while maintaining COVID-safe practices?

Safe hygiene practices are absolutely essential to an effective reusable crockery system and it is entirely possible to use our system and maintain COVID-safe practices. We follow global guidelines as detailed in the following document, published by the Sustainable Events Alliance: Global Best Practice Guidelines - Reusables Hygiene at Events (1st Ed.) We also have our own detailed guide for COVID-safe event management.

Can you also manage our on-site waste?

Yes! Resource recovery is a large part of what we offer events and festivals, including streamed recycling and composting. A core part of this service involves consultation on ways to eliminate potential on-site waste too (such as using aluminium cans or kegs in place of glass bottles).

How does your compostable model work?

To eliminate a huge proportion of event waste going to landfill, our compostable model is the next best alternative to our reusable model. We liaise with event organisers and food/beverage vendors to provide high-quality 100% compostable packaging at competitive rates. Used packaging is collected along with food waste via our organics system, complete with educational signage and staff stationed at collection points to educate punters and minimise contamination. Final volumes are weighed, removed by our waste contractors, and composted down under strictly regulated conditions into rich, valuable compost for purchase by local farmers. Our organics system has saved festivals many tonnes of carbon emissions and thousands of dollars in general waste fees!

Do you provide staff and volunteers, or do we need to provide our own?

We typically provide both staff and volunteers to assist in managing a smooth, efficient resource recovery effort at any event, and include this service in our quotes where applicable. We can also train volunteers from other organisations on our procedures if and when required.

Do you provide reusables hire or compostable packaging for weddings, private functions or community events?


Yes! With enough notice, we can help you to hire or purchase reusable crockery, cups and sporks (additional fees apply). We can also purchase high-quality discounted compostable packaging. Contact us for a quote!

 

 

Schools & Institutions

What environmental services can you offer my school?

We love working with schools to reduce waste, find Earth-friendly alternatives, save money and inspire the next generations to care for the planet. Our resource recovery stations can include organics composting and streamed recycling; our compostable packaging catalogue offers greener alternatives for canteens; and our range of sustainable office supplies helps reduce waste and emissions without hefty price tags. Get in touch today for more information.

What kinds of Earth-friendly supplies can you provide my school with?

We have a range of supplies to assist your school or institution to reduce your impact on the Earth. Currently we offer unwrapped carbon-neural copy paper, A3 and A4 printing paper, recycled tissues, paper towel and toilet paper in standard and jumbo rolls, stationary, compostable food packaging and more. If there is a particular item you are after, simply ask and we will do our best to source an Earth-friendly option for you at our best price!

What resource recovery streams do you offer schools and institutions?

We can collect and process organics for composting, as well as many other streams. The availability of stream recycling depends on locality, however we do our best to offer paper/cardboard, aluminium cans, glass, polystyrene, HDPE and LDPE plastics, and soft plastics wherever possible. Contact us to find out which services are available in your locality.

What is B-Alternative’s ‘Schools Eco Bank’?

Our Schools Eco Bank is a unique offering to help schools create an otherwise typically non-existent budget for environmental projects. As education is one of our core business pillars, B-Alternative puts aside 5% of every purchase you make - whether supplies or packaging - into a ‘bank’ managed by us. When this amount reaches $1000, your school can use this money in one of two ways: either put it towards your next order, or use it to fund an environmental project!

Can you come along to our school and present a talk/workshop to my students/staff?

Sure! Our team members are experienced in education across a wide age range, and lack no passion or enthusiasm for environmental change! Sharing the why and how of Earth care with others, especially the next generations, is another essential action towards regenerating the planet. Simply contact us for more information.

 
 
 
IMG_6944.jpg