Choose to Reuse

The Choose to Reuse Plate Program has reopened for 2021! 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 service

The Choose to Reuse Events Service 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 students organising events at the Parkville campus for a small hire and washing fee. There are two types of service:

  1. Events within Union House (UH). This service is available to anyone who has a Unimelb email address (staff, students, faculties, community groups, subsidiaries, autonomous organisations).
  2. Events external to Union House, this service is only available to University staff.

For events inside Union House only, requiring less than 15 of each item, items can be collected from the Dish Wash Hub and deposited at a dirty drop-off station after use. Contact the Sustainability Team to organise collection.

For all events, it is necessary to book items in advance.

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

Complete our hire form and book below at least 3 weeks before your event.

Book your event

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
  • Event timing e.g. daytime, late night
  • Time required to pack, wash and store the re-use items

Complete the hire form and proceed to book your event above to receive an accurate quote.

The following hourly rates apply for cleaning, January–June 2021 and are exclusive of GST.

Weekdays—all events
Daytime $35 per hour
Evenings $40 per hour
Weekends—internal Union House events only
Saturday $50 per hour
Sunday $60 per hour
  • Terms and conditions
    • Quotes will be provided on a per event basis and will be confirmed in writing.
    • All requests must be submitted via email at least 3 weeks prior to the event/activity date.
    • A four hour minimum cleaning shift applies for weekend events.
    • A four hour minimum cleaning shift may apply to the hourly rates for events during the week. E.g. four hours at $35 per hour would equate to $140 + GST.
    • Costs will apply for excessive loss/breakages, or if additional time is reasonably required. E.g. not returning crockery on time, excessively dirty, etc.
    • Venue management or Union House access requirements and associated costs do not form part of this request.
    • If an approved request is cancelled less than five business days prior to the activity/event date, costs may be incurred.
    • All items must be collected and returned by the hirer to the Union House Dishwash Hub storage (trolleys available).
    • There is no drop off and collection service for any event regardless of location (Union House staff do not provide this service).
    • There is no access to the Dishwash Hub except to collect items under supervision. Only ISS or Campus Services staff are to wash dishes and use Dishwash Hub equipment.
    • Limits to the number of items may apply based on demand and availability.
    • If concurrent requests are received and cannot be facilitated, it is at the discretion of Campus Services to determine how to proceed e.g. reduced quantities, limited diversity of items, alternative sized crockery.
    • Maximum event numbers apply.
    • Service is unavailable on weekends for external Union House events.
    • To alter an approved request an updated form must be submitted via email.
    • 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 or will have an impact on the retailer use of the service.