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Palm Beach Surf Club

Palm Beach Surf Club sets the sustainability bar for Gold Coast venues

Natalie O’Driscoll | January 2020

Palm Beach Surf Club has become the first venue on the Gold Coast to receive ‘Ocean Friendly’ certification from the Surfrider Foundation.

‘Ocean Friendly’ is the latest campaign by the long-running Surfrider Foundation Australia, a registered not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the protection of Australia’s waves and beaches.

The aim of the free national accreditation program is to reduce single use plastic at its source through the promotion of hospitality businesses along Australia’s coast that undertake sustainable practices.

The campaign is simple, although not easy. In order to achieve accreditation, businesses and events must implement six mandatory measures:

1. No expanded polystyrene foam use
2. No single-use plastic straws
3. Reusable tableware is used for ‘dine in’ and non-plastic utensils for takeaway food
4. No water sold in plastic bottles
5. No plastic bags offered for takeout orders
6. Proper recycling practices are followed.

The Surfrider Foundation Australia also encourages businesses to offer discounts for customers who bring reusable cups, bags and containers, as well as installing energy efficient lighting and appliances, conserving water where possible and only supplying sustainable seafood on their menus.

General Manager of the Palm Beach Surf Club, Daragh Murphy, explains why the process was important to the Club’s management.

“We’re custodians over this piece of beach,” he tells us as we sit looking out across the breezy deck onto the pristine sands. “We’re responsible for handing it over to the next generation.”

Of course a massive overhaul like this wasn’t without challenges.

“We had to work very closely with all partners and suppliers to remove styrofoam from deliveries and find another way,” says Daragh. “It also wasn’t easy to find cost effective alternatives for existing single use items, including compostable paper straws and napkins. But the Club had a strong appetite to do more in the sustainability space.”

And they’re certainly not done.

“By no means do we feel we’ve got everything right just yet,” laughs Daragh. “It’s a work in progress, but we’ve got an enthusiastic team.”

The Club has also aligned itself with Palm Beach Currumbin High School and its new waste processing facility, ensuring that a large amount of the delivery packaging which is not returned to suppliers is sent for single stream recycling, and has also partnered with local environmental consultancy Glowing Green Australia, which provides environmentally friendly kids’ packs to the Club.

In addition, the Club buys its milk from local concern Norco, sending all the packaging back to the company, and gets its coffee deliveries from Social Espresso Burleigh in cardboard boxes which are then collapsed and sent back. It’s a real community effort, according to Daragh.

“It’s a team sport,” he laughs. “Everybody is involved!”

Palm Beach Surf Club is leading the charge in sustainable operations not just on the Gold Coast but nation-wide, also nabbing the honour of being the first surf club in the whole of Australia to receive the ‘Ocean Friendly’ certification.

Daragh hopes to set an example to surf clubs and communities around Australia, and given the number of Clubs banging down his door for tips, it looks like they’ve been successful in that aim.

“The phone ran hot that first week, following the announcement,” he recalls. We ask him what his main piece of advice to other clubs has been.

“Break it down into bite-sized chunks,” he says. “Then knock them over one at a time.”

Ocean Friendly venues on the Gold Coast

Palm Beach Surf Club received their accreditation in August. Since then, Currumbin RSL, Four Pines Tap Room Coolangatta and both Black Hops Brewing facilities have also been given the ‘Ocean Friendly’ nod.

To learn more, visit Surfrider Foundation Australia.

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