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Sunday, July 27, 2014

SFCI targets post-consumer food waste

When the Zero Waste Zones launched in 2009 Atlanta was thrust into the national spotlight as the leader in the commercial collection of food waste for compost. As highlighted in the CNN story City aims for zero waste, the ZWZ focused on back-of-the-house (BOH) | pre-consumer food waste collection for compost.

Chef Ahmad Nourzad
w/ Affairs to Remember
"It was Easy - Thank You" was a common phrase from ZWZ Participants. Yet arriving to this point was NOT easy! It took a team of industry leaders who were willing to figure out by trial and error the new "easy" food waste collection practices. Kudos to Patrick Cuccaro of Affairs to Remember, Randy Childers of The Hyatt Regency, Steve Simon of fifth group restaurants, Executive Chef Frank Abbinanti of Levy Restaurants | Georgia World Congress Center, to name a few, for leading the industry in pre-consumer food waste collection!

With Elemental Impact's (Ei) ZWZ role complete, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) purchased the ZWZ in late 2012 to augment its ConServe Program. The ZWZ sale substantiated Ei as a powerful program creator. A common phrase in Ei founder Holly Elmore's many speaking engagements summarizes Ei's industry role:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

The August, 2013 IMPACT Blog article, Ei Emerges Strong from a Metamorphosis, announces the Ei triple-platform focus: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity. Within Recycling Refinement - moving beyond landfill diversion - post-consumer food waste collection is a primary focus, along with on-site source-separated material for recycling collection.

As ZWZ Participants, each of the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Pilots have strong pre-consumer food waste collection commitments. Below is a recap of the respective SFCI Pilot's goals for post-consumer food waste collection for compost or other state-permitted destinations other than landfill:

The 2014 | 2015 primary SFCI focus is post-consumer food waste collection.

As the SFCI - Shopping Center Pilot, Concord Mills in Charlotte, NC takes an industry leading role in mall food court BOH food waste collection, wasted food donation and plastic film recycling. The March 2013 ZWA Blog article, Bring the Possible out of Impossible, highlights the strong working relationship with Ei Partner HMSHost (food court concessionaire) and mall owner Simon Property Group.

Ray with his Orwak baler,
the workhorse of the plastic film
recycling program
In April, Concord Mills general manager Ray Soporowski hosted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IV Scaling Up Compost in Charlotte Grant Team for a tour of the food waste and plastic film recycling programs. During the tour, Ray agreed to pilot a post-consumer food waste collection program in the food court. The game plan is to meet in the summer to devise a game plan for implementation after the busy year-end holiday season. The ZWA Blog article, Charlotte Focuses on Food Waste with EPA Grant Support, recaps the April Charlotte visit.

The Ei Team visits Charlotte July 30 - August 01 for three days of powerful tours, meetings and strategy sessions. A meeting with Ray on the Concord Mills post-consumer food waste collection pilot is scheduled as a top priority.

In 2011 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, made a bold sustainable statement by including a provision in the Airport Concessionaire Request for Proposal requiring food vendors to use compostable packaging. 

Ei Chair Scott Seydel w/ Scott
DeFife of the NRA w/the
Going Green Airports Award
The provision announcement coincided with the Atlanta Airport stepping forward as the first SFCI Pilot. For an overview of the groundbreaking provision, visit the ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Sustainable Statement. The SFCI - Atlanta Airport won a 2011 Going Green Airports Award for the contract provision.

The Ei Atlanta Airport Compostable Packaging Information Packet page is an overview of the comprehensive document prepared by the SFCI Team in 2012 to educate airport concessionaires on the contract provision.

With the new contract completing its eighteen month implementation process, the Airport is informing concessionaires the compostable packaging provision is effective by year end. Liza Milagro - Atlanta Airport senior sustainability planner - is orchestrating a series of lunch and learn sessions to educate and prepare the Concessions Department for provision compliance.

Liza & Doug @ Atlanta Airport 
SFCI co-chair Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks works closely with Liza on developing a Compostable Packaging Products Manual to aid concessionaires in meeting the contract provision. The document focus is on the compostable packaging definition and how to communicate the packaging requirements within the concessionaire supply chain.

On Friday, August 8 Liza meets with the newly formed Ei Sustainable Packaging Committee chaired by Sarah Martell of innovia Films to tour the airport concession operations. Committee members Grant Braasch of NatureWorks, Rick Lombardo of Natur-Tec and Wendell Simonson of Eco-Products will share their expertise with Liza and offer their on-going support. 

The Ei Sustainable Packaging Committee is a team of industry experts from non-profits and private enterprise who provide support to foodservice operators eager to refine their food waste collection practices. One of the main committee tasks is to support the SFCI Pilots as they embark on post-consumer food waste collection programs.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, including the Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park, was the first ZWZ Participant and hosted the acclaimed 2009 press conference launching the program. A veteran to zero waste practices, the GWCC is eager to refine their recycling programs.  

Tim "picking the bowl" @
2013 Falcons Game
In early 2012 GWCCA director of sustainability Tim Trefzer gave the big YES to the Georgia Dome serving as the SFCI - Event Venue Pilot!  For the 2014 Atlanta Falcons season, the SFCI - Georgia Dome announces the following goals:
  1. Implement a post-consumer food waste collection program
  2. Source-separate material generated for on-site produced mini-bales
  3. Expand game day tailgate recycling initiatives in the GWCC-owned parking lots; explore recycling possibilities at privately held parking lots. 
Establishing baselines | fact finding for the business model development is the first action step and timing is impeccable with the upcoming August 08 & 23 pre-season Falcons home games. Future articles will document the planning and action necessary to accomplish the 2014 Atlanta Falcons Season Goals.

Food donation programs are integral to successful post-consumer food waste systems. In the original ZWZ Criteria, participants were required to donate excess food in accordance with the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Often there is prepared food deemed unservable due to quality standards yet meets the donation standards.

Perry with food ready for donation
Perry Kranias with HMSHost - Tampa International Airport is a leading pioneer in maximizing donated food in commercial foodservice operations. The ZWA Blog's most popular article (almost to 8,000 pageviews!), Reduce First, Donate Second, Compost Third, is an introduction to the Tampa Airport donation program. 

HMSHost contracts with the Food Donation Connection (FDC) on a national basis to orchestrate their donation programs. FDC is a NRA partner organization who specializes in the tax benefits generated by food donation programs. In partnership with YUM! Brands, FDC produced an excellent video, HMSHost and Food Donation Connection Food Rescue, on their system featuring the Tampa Airport donation program.

The post-consumer food waste goals are stated, action plans are established or in the formation stage, and the Ei Team is mobilized to provide guidance and support to industry pioneers. 

Ei's tagline Sustainability in ACTION is indeed in action for post-consumer food waste programs. Let the possible flow from the impossible while pioneers segue into heroes!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Atlanta Shines as Zero Waste Conference Host City

The common thread in Atlanta's
zero waste story
Atlanta, a city with strong zero waste roots, was a perfect host for the third annual U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) Conference in early May. With the 2009 Zero Waste Zones launch, Atlanta took a leadership role in the commercial collection of food waste for compost.

National media attention followed with the CNN story City Aims for Zero Waste that aired prime time along with homepage listing during Earth Week 2009. Later in the year, the New York Times front-page article, Nudging Recycling from Less Waste to None, featured ZWZ Champion Steve Simon, Fifth Group Restaurants partner. The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta: Host City for 2014 USZWBC Conference, gives a short synopsis of Atlanta's zero waste history along with an USZWBC overview.


As a conference partner and media sponsor, Elemental Impact played a leading role in bringing the national conference to Atlanta along with orchestrating the local flavor portion of the excellent program. The ZWA Blog article, Creating Value Through Zero Waste, recaps the many powerful Atlanta meetings preparing for the event. Promoted pre-conference in the ZWA Blog article, National in Focus, Local in Flavor, the 2014 USZWBC Conference Program was well balanced between national | local presentations, with sessions geared toward zero waste veterans and those embarking on the journey.



CleanRiver's Sponsor booth
Ei Partners, Advisers and Strategic Allies were prominent at the conference serving as panel moderators | presenters, conference sponsors and promotional partners. In addition to their speaker roles, Ei Partners Novelis, NatureWorks, Orwak and CleanRiver Recycling Systems stepped forward as conference sponsors. Ei Strategic Ally Sustainable Atlanta served as the conference Local Host while Allies Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Green Chamber of the South were Promotional Partners.

Following USZWBC executive director Stephanie Barger's conference opening remarks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 administrator, Heather McTeer Toney welcomed the participants from across North America to Atlanta and gave an overview of the region's zero waste commitment.



Stephanie & Laura
Photo courtesy of Melissa Selem 
As the opening plenary keynote speaker, Ei Adviser and ZWZ Founding Chair, Laura Turner Seydel served as Atlanta's Ambassador with her impressive talk on Atlanta's resilient spirit and the many grass roots organizations who make a tremendous impact, individually and collectively. In her closing, Laura spoke on Captain Planet's profound influence on the generation stepping into national leadership roles and how the Captain Planet Foundation keeps the Planeteer spirit alive through programs like the Learning Gardens.

After Laura's keynote, Ei founder Holly Elmore moderated the opening plenary panel on Atlanta's Zero Waste Story including Suzanne Burnes, Sustainable Atlanta executive director, Denise Quarles, City of Atlanta director office of sustainability, Michael Cheyne, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Atlanta Airport) asset management & sustainability director, and Scott Jenkins, the New Atlanta Falcons Stadium general manager.

Within the introductions, Holly wove the common ZWZ thread at the foundation of current zero waste success. During the ZWZ launch and early years, Suzanne served as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sustainability Division assistant director and gave unwavering support through exciting, though often challenging times. At Sustainable Atlanta, Suzanne steers the metro region's EcoDistricts program and LookUp Atlanta, gathering space to share, celebrate and inspire the good work happening every day to create a better, healthier community.



Holly moderating the panel
The City of Atlanta joined the ZWZ and was a strong advocate with many introductions, including the Atlanta Airport. In her role, Denise expands upon the ZWZ foodservice industry focus to the community at-large including residential curbside recycling services. Under Denise's tutelage, the City launched Power to Change: One City. One Plan. 10 Impact Areas, a comprehensive city-wide sustainability initiative.

In addition to joining the ZWZ program, the Atlanta Airport serves as the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Airport Pilot. The 2011 ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Sustainable Statement, announced the groundbreaking contract provision requiring airport food vendors to use compostable serviceware and consumer-facing packaging under the then new concessionaire contract.



Michael @ the podium
Michael gave a profound presentation on the sustainability and zero waste initiatives at the busiest airport in the world. A true pioneer, Michael is taking an industry leadership role in a proactive approach to Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG), a costly by-product of cooking. Approvals are in-process for a campus-wide installation of Grease Lock Filters in airport concessionaires. The proactive AKG approach is staged to reduce airport water usage by an estimated 1.1 million gallons per year while concessionaires save approximately $7,300 annually per location.  

The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Presents a Proactive Approach to Airborne Kitchen Greaseannounces the American Association of Airport Executives' February | March publication Airport Magazine article, AIRBORNE KITCHEN GREASE: A New Frontier in Sustainability, A simple solution saves tremendous water use, labor and dollars, co-written by Michael and Holly.



Holly & Scott
during break after the panel
Photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
Next at the podium was Scott Jenkins, who recently relocated to Atlanta from Seattle. A zero waste veteran, Scott brought Safeco Field to zero waste during his tenure as the Seattle Mariners vice-president of operations. 

It was exciting to hear the deep sustainability commitment by Arthur Blank, Falcons owner and Home Depot co-founder, for the stadium construction and operations.The Falcons made a strong statement by hiring the new stadium general manager and contracting with foodservice operator Levy Restaurants three seasons prior to the stadium opening.

... and the ZWZ common thread? The Georgia Dome is one of three facilities within the Georgia World Congress Center campus, a ZWZ Founding Participant and host to the 2009 ZWZ launch press conference. In addition, the Georgia Dome serves as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot with intentions for the new stadium to continue as the pilot when it opens.

During the first conference day lunch, EPA Chief, RCRA Programs & Materials Jon Johnston gave a Food Recovery Challenge overview along with accolades to the impressive program recruitment in less than three months. The ZWA Blog article, EPA Food Recovery Challenge: Region IV launches FRC in hospitality sector, gives program details and an introduction to the food waste dilemma; the Ei Joins EPA FRC article details Ei's role in promoting the program.

After Jon's presentation, Stephanie took the podium to present USZWBC Zero Heroes 2014 Awards and a Zero Waste Certification plaque. USZWBC Board vice-president Gary Liss was presented with the Board Member of the Year award for his amazing industry dedication and unwavering organization commitment.


Awards are a team effort
Ei Team picture courtesy of Scott Lutocka
Ei close friend Scott Lutocka of Piazza Produce received the Zero Waste Cheerleader 2014 Award for his heroic efforts promoting zero waste across industry boundaries. The Zero Waste is a Team Sport ZWA Blog article gives an overview of Piazza Produce's zero waste practices in-place at their distribution center. While at the podium accepting his personal award, Scott also accepted the Piazza Produce Gold Zero Waste Certification plaque. 

Holly was presented with the Zero Waste Promoter of the Year - what an honor! With tears in her eyes Holly gave a heartfelt thank you as she accepted the award. The conference was indeed a powerful event for Ei.


Scott & Holly in their
Zero Waste Warrior capes!
Photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
In addition to the formal conference awards, Scott and Holly received Zero Waste Warrior Super Hero capes from dear friend Heinz Weverink of Merciel Materials. At Heinz's request, Samantha Heburn made the capes from 100% reclaimed material. The capes are a treasure and most appreciated.

During the second conference day the plenary keynotes and panels were interspersed with morning and afternoon break out sessions, many moderated by Ei staff or affiliates. In the morning, Holly moderated the Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte panel on the EPA Region 4 Sustainable Packaging Coalition Grant by the same name. 

Kim Charick with the EPA gave an overview of the grant importance and the EPA's commitment to support food waste collection for compost. Next Laurette Hall with Mecklenburg County gave an overview of the Charlotte metro area's strong waste reduction practices, including food waste collection pilots in several county schools. Wrapping up the panel, Anne Bedarf with the SPC gave a synopsis of the grant goal, tasks and objectives along with a progress-to-date update.


The EPA Grant Panel
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
For grant details, visit the ZWA Blog article, Scaling up composting in Charlotte, NC. The Charlotte Focuses on Food Waste with EPA Support article is a recap of the Grant Team April visit to Charlotte.


In the afternoon Holly moderated the Recycling Refinement panel on the metro-wide recycling template pilot that gives the corporate community an alternative to single-stream recycling while improving bottom lines. Aligning with Ei's concept Recycling Integrity - maintaining maximum material value with minimum energy expended - the template is grounded in material source-separation at the generation point.

The ZWA Blog article, If it was easy, it would already be done, introduces the template along with inherent challenges. Beginning with plastic film recycling, the template expanded to the common recycled items - PET (#1 plastics common in bottled beverages), aluminum and paper | fiber- when the GWCC joined as a Template Pioneer. The panel represented the template value chain.

Leading the panel, Mark Lanning with Tomra | Orwak gave an overview of current single-stream recycling systems and how on-site material source-separation using small balers aligned with Recycling Integrity. 

Next Preston Fletcher with FreshPoint - the nation's largest produce distributor - presented on their role as the Lead Template Pioneer including examples of how internal practices were modified to eliminate contamination.The ZWA Blog article, Plastic Film Recycling Video Published, announces Ei's video filmed and edited by Ei Chair Scott Seydel on initial action steps in template development.


Lorraine @ podium
photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
Preston's comments on the lack of existing infrastructure were the perfect segue to M-PASS Environmental's role in template development. Lorraine White discussed route density creation for small bale collection and working with the template recycling center on aggregating material into standard size bales. From the audience, Marvin Blow - associate warden at the Atlanta Penitentiary - confirmed the Atlanta Penitentiary will serve as the template recycling center where inmates re-bale the material to hold until sold by the tractor trailer load.

Closing the panel, Kurt Schmitz with Pratt Industries gave an overview of Pratt's 100% recycled content cardboard box manufacturing. In addition, Kurt stressed how keeping the template material local generated jobs and spurred the community economy. With their North American headquarters in nearby Conyers, GA, Pratt is the end market for fiber collected in the template. 

Keeping with the local theme, Ei program administrator Melissa Selem moderated the Zero Waste: Georgia Grown panel where the ZWZ were once again the common thread among the presenters. Abbey Patterson - Atlanta Recycles (AR) director - worked closely with Holly on the founding ZWZ Participant recruiting; the ZWZ - Downtown Atlanta was in partnership with AR. At the podium, Abbey educated on how AR is central to metro Atlanta's many recycling programs and success stories.

Gloria Hardegree - Georgia Recycling Coalition executive director - was the AR Chair during the ZWZ launch and a strong supporter. In her presentation, Gloria shared the GRC's Made in Georgia - from Recycled Materials initiative. For an overview, the seven plus minute video GRC - Made in Georgia produced by Greenshortz gives an excellent snippet of the strong end markets for recycled material in Georgia.


Zero Waste: GA Grown panel
photo courtesy of Mike Simone
Following Gloria, Fifth Group Restaurants partner Steve Simon presented on Pioneering Zero Waste for a Restaurateur. As the first dumpster-free restaurant in Atlanta, Steve was featured in the October 2009 front-page New York Times article referenced in the second paragraph. Although easy now with long-term zero waste practices in place, Steve shared the challenges faced by a restaurant group with numerous concepts and varying waste | recycling options offered by landlords.

With the 2012 National Restaurant Association ZWZ purchase, Jeff Clark - NRA ConServe program director - was perfect to wrap-up the session with his NEW ZWZ, Atlanta's Business-Savvy Conservation Program, presentation. The NRA article, Sustainability, zero waste top agenda at business council conference, is a great session recap supported by industry leader quotes.

Thanks to Ei's introductions, Suganthi Simon (EPA), Tim Trefzer (GWCC) and Cindy Jackson (Georgia Institute of Technology) presented on the Zero Waste in Sports panel. Suganthi gave a high level perspective in her Fostering a Culture of Sustainability in Collegiate Sports session while Tim and Cindy were grounded in success stories at their respective facilities.

Laura & Tim happy to reconnect
In 2013 the Georgia Dome hosted the Final Four with great success on zero waste, community involvement and overall sustainability fronts. The ZWA Blog article, Final Four green footprints continue after the games, includes a summary of the Final Four's substantial impact before, during and after the games. For in-depth details, the Final Four Sustainability Report is available for download on the Elemental Impact Resources page under the Event Recycling section.

A zero waste veteran, Cindy oversees an award-winning recycling program at Ga Tech with on-site source-separation used campus-wide. After a Ga Tech campus overview, Cindy presented on the game day grass roots recycling practices at Bobby Dodd Stadium, including tailgate programs and food waste collection for compost in the stadium suites. 

Always willing to share her success recipe, Cindy hosted Tim on the GA Tech campus in February 2012, marking the beginning of a strong friendship. For a pictorial recap of the campus tour, visit the Ei FB album, 02-27-12 GA Tech Hosts GWCCA. Check out the pictures of the CLEAN streams collected from student source-separated recycling centers.

Ei Partner Bruce Buchan of CleanRiver presented on Zero Waste: The 3 C Approach in the Property & Facility Management morning panel. According to Bruce, the Three R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) are augmented with the Three C's: Culture, Communication & Collection in effective recycling programs. For an in-depth Three C synopsis, visit the ZWA Blog article, Evolution of the Three R's along with substantiation of CleanRiver's long-term commitment to customers like Ga Tech.


Michael & Anne chat during a break
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
In the afternoon, Ei Strategic Ally Anne Bedarf of the SPC moderated the Sustainable Packaging panel where Ei Partner Steve Davies of Natureworks presented on Perspective in Packaging and Zero Waste. As the manufacturer of Ingeo - a biopolymer (polylactic acid) - used to create eco-friendly plastics and fibers, Natureworks is at the forefront of incorporating compostable plastics into foodservice and other industries packaging. 

For commercial food waste collection programs, compostable packaging is essential to prevent plastics and other contaminants from entering the material stream. Steve's colleague, Doug Kunnemann co-chairs the SFCI where post-consumer food waste collection initiatives are the primary 2014 focus.

A keynote speaker for day two of the conference, Brenda Platt of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Ei Strategic Ally, was inspiring at the podium during her Pay Dirt: Composting in America to Reduce Waste, Create Jobs, and Enhance the Soil. Brenda educated the attentive audience about the vital role food waste collected for composting plays in soil, water and air quality.

Later in the morning, Ei Partner John Gardner of Novelis presented on Driving to a Closed Loop Business Model & Zero Waste. Epitomizing the critical role played by the supply chain in zero waste initiatives, Novelis takes a proactive approach to their environmental footprint as well as their customers' impact. As the world's largest manufacturer of rolled aluminum, shifts in Novelis practices have a profound global impact in many industries and markets.

In the Zero Waste Branding & Social Marketing panel, Ei Supporter and zero waste pioneer, Patrick Cucarro - Affairs to Remember (ATR) managing director - gave an excellent presentation on how impressive internal practices segue into powerful external messaging. Keeping with an ATR core value "We're Serious About Fun," Patrick used a clever spaghetti analogy intertwined within his presentation.

The ZWA Blog article, USZWBC Conference Theme: Zero Waste Evolution, is an overall conference recap featuring prime plenary keynote and panel presentations, including more detail on John, Brenda, and Patrick's important presentations. Conference PPT presentations are available to view on the USZWBC 2014 Conference program page by clicking on the specific session title. 


The amazing duo:
Emily & Stephanie!
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
For a conference pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB album, 2014 USZWBC Conference in Atlanta. The Ei site USZWBC Conference page recaps each of the above keynote & panel presentations along with short descriptions and PPT presentations available for download.

Conference success is always grounded in strong collaborative efforts. The USZWBC core team - Stephanie & Emily DeCremer - were amazing to work with on the local flavor within an astounding national conference. Kudos to the USZWBC on another phenomenal conference!  ... onward to Los Angeles for the 2015 USZWBC Conference!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

USZWBC Conference Theme: Zero Waste Evolution

Inherent within the excellent 2014 U.S. Zero Waste Business Council Conference program hosted in Atlanta, GA was the significant industry evolution since the inaugural 2012 conference.
Eiko Risch & USZWBC
executive director Stephanie Barger
At the 2012 conference held in Costa Mesa, CA, the program featured national and regional companies who took pioneering roles in corporate zero waste practices. Morning keynote speaker Eiko Risch of Ricoh Electronics gave an impressive overview of Ricoh's zero waste and sustainability accomplishments. As with other speakers, Eiko detailed the necessary ingredients for zero waste success: top management buy-in, employee participation and supply chain engagement to name a few. Bottom line improvement was a common theme among presenters.

The ZWA Blog article, USZWBC hosts first rate conference, is a conference overview along with dialogue on Zero Waste Basics.

For the second USZWBC Conference, Cincinnati was the host city for the stellar program. With Zero Waste Basics established the prior year, the 2013 conference program focused on fine tuning practices to ensure zero waste success. At the 2012 conference top management buy-in was discussed as vital to successful programs. In 2013, Scott Stephenson - Mitsubishi Electric America corporate manager - stressed the importance of top management engagement. In addition, Scott emphasized Know Your Trash, Up Close and Personal, the name of the ZWA Blog article documenting the first day of the 2013 conference.

In addition to "Know Your Trash" several other common themes intertwined the presentations: 
  • securing associate engagement supported by consistent, repetitive training
  • rewarding employees for program participation along with system improvement suggestions
  • utilizing peer pressure as a motivator for the late adopters | nay sayers
  • incorporating simplicity into program parameters and logistics.
Two additional ZWA Blog articles chronicle the powerful 2012 conference: Zero Waste Success Requires WE Consciousness,and Zero Waste is a Team Sport, a powerful panel.

For the 2014 USZWBC Conference - Creating Value Through Zero Waste, the superb program topics substantiated the zero waste industry's continued evolution. Hosted in Atlanta, GA - a city entrenched with zero waste roots via the 2009 Zero Waste Zones launch - the conference sessions addressed the far-reaching impacts of zero waste practices.


Brenda @ the podium
Brenda Platt - Institute for Local Self-Reliance co-director - opened the second day programs with her keynote presentation, Pay Dirt: Composting in America to Reduce Waste, Create Jobs, and Enhance the Soil. Brenda educated the attentive audience about the vital role food waste collected for composting plays in soil, water and air quality. In addition to environmental impact, Brenda emphasized composting facilities create jobs and contribute to the local economy.

Food and beverage packaging plays a critical role in food waste collection for composting programs. Plastic contamination, whether from plastic foodservice items or plastic-coated paper plates, cups and bowls, is a serious concern in composting operations. In her presentation, Brenda shared EcoCycles' Microplastics in compost is a BIG potential problem website page, which explains why plastics in soil are as dangerous to our environment as plastics in our oceans. 

Composting is a local venture and Brenda gave examples how many communities, including Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Austin, address food waste via public policy and regulations. Seattle incorporated packaging requirements within the city regulations. 


Brenda's slide on the
SFCI - ATL Airport work
As an Ei Advisory Council Member, Brenda worked closely with Elemental Impact on the Atlanta Airport's compostable packaging requirement provision in the 2011 concessionaire contract. Brenda featured the Atlanta Airport work in her presentation.

Along with support from the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Team, ILSR | Ei issued the Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet that explains the contract provision, defines compostable packaging along with an explanation of its role in food waste collection programs, and includes a frequently asked questions section. The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Makes Bold Sustainable Statement, announces the contract provision.

Following Brenda's keynote presentation, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company sustainability coordinator Cheri Chastain moderated the Businesses Lead the Way to Zero Waste plenary panel. First at the podium, General Motors global waste reduction manager John Bradburn gave a creative, impressive presentation on Reimagining Waste.


Volt battery case nesting box
Committed to traditional zero waste practices, GM has 111 landfill-free facilities with 50 in North America. In 2006, GM initiated a vehicle component recovery program that evolved from landfill avoidance to supporting natural habitats and community involvement. According to John: When is recycling a material bad? When it can be reused for more value, less energy demands. Ingenuity and creativity are necessary ingredients to establish reuse programs that make a difference in the community.

GM donated 4,000 yards of scrap sound absorption material from the production of Malibu and Verano sedans to a non-profit. Around 800 self-heated, waterproof coats that transform into sleeping bags for homeless individuals were made from the scrap material. Spent pallets are dismantled and used in building construction. Cadillac parts transport packaging are used for raised bed urban agriculture. In Uzbekistan, the grass on the factory grounds is baled for hay.

By 2020, a GM goal is all manufacturing sites have wildlife habitat certificate or the equivalent, where feasible. In alignment with this goal, scrap Volt battery cases are made into wildlife nesting boxes that provide a safe haven to lay eggs.


Laura Turner Seydel &
Bruce Buchan with a CR Nest Box
In alignment with using manufacturing by-products to benefit natural habitats, Ei Partner CleanRiver Recycling Systems (CR) introduced their Project Nest Box program. Bird box assembly kits are made using 98% post-consumer content plastic board scraps from CR's recycling bin production. The boxes are donated to schools in kit format, complete with assembly hardware required, ready for the students to assemble and place on school grounds.

At the conference, CleanRiver CEO Bruce Buchan and Laura Turner Seydel, Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) Chair, discussed Project Nest Box's alignment with the CPF Learning Garden Program. Future blog articles will chronicle the seeds planted at the conference.

Wrapping up the plenary panel, Ei Partner Novelis Vice-President and Chief Sustainability Officer John Gardner presented on Driving to a Closed Loop Business Model & Zero Waste. Epitomizing the critical role played by the supply chain in zero waste initiatives, Novelis takes a proactive approach to their environmental footprint as well as their customers'. As the world's largest manufacturer of rolled aluminum, shifts in Novelis practices have a profound global impact in many industries and markets.


John Gardner @ the podium
Novelis is the world's largest aluminum recycler with a commitment to reach 80% recycled content in Novelis Aluminum as well as zero waste-to-landfill in operations by 2020. An increase from the current 33% recycled content to 80% will remove 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually from the aluminum value chain.

In primary aluminum production, aluminum is refined from the raw material bauxite - for every ton of aluminum refined from bauxite, two tons of red mud waste are produced. As recycling reduces the use of primary aluminum, Novelis' use of scrap instead of primary prevented 2.5 million metric tons of red mud waste from being generated in the past year. When the 80% recycled content is achieved, Novelis Aluminum will prevent a stupendous amount of red mud waste and GHG emissions production along with significant other by-product impacts. 

A catalyst for sustainable innovation, Novelis worked closely with British car maker Landrover on introducing the 100% Novelis Aluminum 2014 Range Rover. With a 700 pounds weight loss, the aluminum Range Rover boasts a 9% miles per gallon improvement and a one second cut in the 0 to 60 miles per hour acceleration improvement. Impressive!

The introduction of Novelis evercan™ was a world changing leap forward in promoting closed-loop production. Redefining industry standards and quickly closing the loop to make what is already 100% recyclable, made of 100% recycled content, the evercan™ sheet is certified by SCS (Scientific Certification Services), an independent leader in environmental auditing, and is made of a minimum 90% recycled aluminium. Evercan™ is commercially available in Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

Using his charming British wit, John closed his presentation with a challenge to Sierra Nevada to use evercan™ in their beer distribution by handing Cheri a can!

Sustainability Through Disruptive Innovation - the Novelis 2013 Sustainability Report - reviews the progress and challenges at each life cycle of business sourcing, manufacturing, customer use and end-of-life with customers. Comprehensive and well-organized, the report is an easy-to-follow synopsis of Novelis' sustainability commitment at the core of their corporate values. Recently the report won Ragan's PR Daily Best Report Award, with the following accolades:
Sustainability is the beating heart of this corporation's very identity ... Novelis' Sustainability Report 2013 is the winner of the Best Report category in PR Daily's 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility Awards because this annual report is a model of clear writing. It contains a minimum of corporate-speak and jargon. Instantly intelligible graphics and the literate, candid formulations of the company's goals - and the obstacles still in the way of those goals  - make it a pleasure to read.
Beyond the tangible benefits of zero waste practices, the Zero Waste Branding & Social Marketing Panel addressed the value of incorporating sustainability into a company's core messaging. Ei Supporter and zero waste pioneer, Patrick Cucarro - Affairs to Remember (ATR) Managing Director - gave an excellent presentation on how impressive internal practices segue into powerful external messaging. Keeping with an ATR core value "We're Serious About Fun," Patrick used a clever spaghetti analogy intertwined within his presentation.


Patrick Cuccaro
@ podium
photo courtesy of ATR
According to Patrick, it is important to create a consistent internal script of the company's sustainability practices that may be incorporated into proposals, speaking engagements and other external communications. A simple tagline at the bottom of e-mail signatures is an easy, "free" way to share the company's zero waste story. "Atlanta's first Zero Waste Zones Caterer" is part of an ATR e-mail signature and receives thousands of daily impressions.


Patrick emphasized "telling your story" in a manner that creates a clear visual image for the audience. ATR recently announced their 300 tons of material diverted from the landfill milestone, the equivalent of 550 stacks of empty soda cans as high as the Empire State Building. ATR is launching the Green Files blog where Not everything about Green is Black and White” is scripted in a seriously fun style!

In the Zero Waste: Georgia Grown Panel moderated by Ei program administrator Melissa Selem, Jeff Clark - National Restaurant Association ConServe program director - continues the evolution theme with his presentation on the NEW Zero Waste Zones, Atlanta's Business-Savvy Conservation Program. In 2012 the NRA purchased the ZWZ and evolved the program to expand beyond material management to a broad scope of sustainability practices. The NRA article, Sustainability, zero waste top agenda at business council conference, is a great session recap supported by industry leader quotes.

As promoted pre-conference in the ZWA Blog article, National in Focus, Local in Flavor, the 2014 USZWBC Conference Program was well balanced between national | local presentations, with sessions geared toward zero waste veterans and those embarking on the journey. Topics included a wide range of pertinent topics. The full agenda incorporates ample social time within breaks and a reception at the conclusion of the first-day program. 

Conference PPT presentations are available to view on the USZWBC 2014 Conference program page by clicking on the specific session title. 

The ZWA Blog, Atlanta Shines as Zero Waste Conference Host City, documents Ei’s role in the conference and highlights the many Ei Partners, Advisers and Strategic Allies that served as moderators | presenters, conference sponsors and promotional partners. For a conference pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB album, 2014 USZWBC Conference in Atlanta.

The zero waste evolution is staged to continue with the 2015 USZWBC Conference hosted by the City of Los Angeles, a 2014 conference sponsor. Once the host hotel is established the dates will be announced. Ei is excited to partner with the USZWBC on the exciting journey within the Zero Waste Evolution!