Choose to Reuse

The Choose to Reuse Plate Program has reopened for 2022! Ask your retailer for a reusable plate, bowl, mug or cutlery set the next time you buy a drink or meal from Union House. Our dedicated cleaners wash used dishes in an industrial dishwasher, so you can rest assured all reusable items are clean, sanitised and safe to enjoy your lunch from – while reducing your waste to landfill!

Two women talk while sitting across from each other at a white table. They each have a wrap in their hands, and their meal is on a ceramic plate.

Reduce the impact of your lunch with the reusable dish service, the Choose to Reuse Plate Program. Simply ask your retailer to serve your meal on a reusable item when ordering from Union House on the Parkville campus. Feel good knowing you've cut down on single-use waste. Go you!

Diagram of 4 photos arranged on a circular line with arrows in between each one pointing in a clockwise direction: first photo shows a woman receiving a meal from a cafe on a reusable plate with the number 1. Second photo shows the same woman eating the meal (a wrap) from the plate while sitting at a table. Third photo shows a sign that reads 'drop off dirty dishes here' with two hands placing a dirty plate in front of it. Fourth photo shows a close up of clean mugs stacked on a large dishwasher tray.

How to use the service

  1. Ask your retailer to serve your meal or drink on a reusable dish when you order – all Union House retailers have bowls, plates or mugs in stock as well as cutlery.
  2. Purchase and enjoy your waste-free meal or drink.
  3. Drop off your used dishes at a drop off station, located at all dual recycling and landfill bins in Union House. Don’t forget to scrape your plate of leftover food into an organics bucket, if available. Only food can go into these trays – all other rubbish must go into either the recycling or landfill bins provided. Visit food organics to find out which organics items are accepted.

That's it! Your dishes will be collected and washed by our cleaning team at the Dish Wash Hub on the ground floor, ready for the next customer. Our dedicated cleaners wash used dishes in an industrial dishwasher, so you can rest assured all reusable items are clean, sanitised and safe to enjoy your next meal from.

By requesting a reusable dish from your food retailer you are helping the University to reduce our collective waste to landfill.

Watch the video to learn about how the project started, what the challenges have been and how it's helping the University to reach our waste reduction targets.

Reuse to stop waste at the source

Did you know that in Australia we throw away approximately 1.9 million tonnes of packaging every year?

For the University of Melbourne to be a leader in sustainable practice we have a target of reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill to 20kg per person by 2020. In 2019 that amount was at 27kg per person, but by choosing reusables over single-use packaging you can help reach our target.

Every plastic take-away container you’ve ever used still exists. Imagine how many more you could prevent adding to that number if you never used another, starting today.


  • No need to carry around your own container
  • No need to wash your own dishes
  • No contribution to waste
  • You can even take your dish away from Union House and return it on your next visit.

Please remember to return dishes when choosing to reuse. The continual operation of this service relies on the goodwill of our students and staff.

Book the events kit

The Choose to Reuse Events Kit can reduce waste at your next University of Melbourne event by providing reusable items instead of disposable food and drink packaging. The service is available to staff and student clubs organising events at the Parkville campus for a small hire and washing fee.

For all events, it is necessary to book items at least two weeks in advance.

Three women wearing University of Melbourne Lanyards holding coffee mugs in in front of a bush

Booking costs

The University supports the reduction of waste by providing this service, however a hire and cleaning fee will be charged to ensure its continuation. Cost will depend on:

  • Number of items required
  • Time required to pack, wash and store the re-use items

Complete the hire form to receive an accurate quote. Please read the terms and conditions before booking.

The following rates apply for events.

Event sizeNumber  of itemsCost

Please note that this kit can accommodate a maximum of 100 attendees.

  • Terms and conditions
    • This service is available to  University of Melbourne staff and student clubs only.
    • All requests must be submitted via the booking form at least 2 weeks prior to the event date.
    • Costs will apply for excessive loss/breakages, or if additional time is reasonably required. E.g. not returning crockery on time, excessively dirty, etc.
    • If an approved request is cancelled less than five business days prior to the activity/event date, costs may be incurred.
    • There is no drop-off and collection service for any event. All items must be collected and returned by the hirer to Union House.
    • Items can only be collected/returned between 9am and 5pm Monday-Friday.
    • Limits to the number of items may apply based on demand and availability.
    • The kit can accommodate a maximum of 100 attendees.
    • We reserve the right to not provide the service if operational requirements prevent facilitation e.g. trained cleaning staff are unavailable, event is too large to cater for.