Choose to Reuse

The Choose to Reuse Plate Program is temporarily unavailable under circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The service is operated by cleaning staff and serves customers of retailers in Union House. Due to the reduced opening hours of retailers, operating this service is not currently viable.

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.

Reduce the impact of your lunch with the reusable dish service, the Choose to Reuse Plate Program. Simply pick up your tableware before purchasing from your favourite food retailers at Union House on the Parkville campus. Feel good knowing you've cut down on single-use waste. Go you!

Steps to use the choose to reuse service

How to use the service

  1. Pick up a reusable bowl, plate, mug or cutlery set from a pick up point.
  2. Present it to your food retailer to serve your meal in. You can also ask your food retailer for a reusable dish when you order—most retailers have either bowls, plates or mugs in stock as well as cutlery.
  3. Purchase and enjoy your waste-free meal or drink.
  4. Drop off your dirty dishes at a drop off point, located at all dual recycling and landfill bins in Union House. Don’t forget to scrape your plate of leftover food into the clear food organics trays, if available. Strictly only food can go into these trays, all other rubbish must go into the red landfill bins provided. Visit food organics  for more information on the organic waste stream .
  5. Your dishes will be collected and washed by our cleaning team at the Dish Wash Hub, ready for your next meal.
  6. By requesting a reusable dish from your food retailer you are helping the university to reduce waste to landfill to 20kg per person by 2020.

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 to reuse over single-use packaging can help reach this Sustainability Plan 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.

Reduce the impact of your event

The Choose to Reuse Events Service can reduce waste at your next University of Melbourne event with reusable plates. The service is available to staff and students organising events at the Parkville campus events 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 a clean pick-up station and deposited at a dirty drop-off station after use, at your own leisure.

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

Campus Grounds

Complete our hire form and book below at least seven business days 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

The following hourly rates apply for cleaning, January–June 2020 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 seven business days 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.