Search This Blog

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Power of Tours

Tour group shot @ a
Charlotte MRF
Throughout Elemental Impact's (Ei) eight-year history, tours played an integral role in educating the Ei Team on current scenarios and creative solutions to challenging situations.

In the early Zero Waste Zones days, tours centered around MRFs (material recovery facilities), recycling centers, manufacturers where recyclable items are raw materials, and generators with successful source-separated material systems in place. As Ei work segued to Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Pilots, tours focused on large generators where the consumer is responsible for material disposal. 

As the SFCI-Airport Pilot, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, hosted the SFCI Team on International Terminal tours during construction and post-opening. The ZWA Blog article, SFCI Team Tours New ATL Airport Int'l Concourse, chronicles the during construction tour; the SFCI Atlanta Airport Pilot: ACTION Resumes article showcases the post-opening tour.

Tim with post-game collected
food waste & packaging 
At the SFCI-Event Venue Pilot, the Georgia Dome hosted several Falcons games tours to understand post-consumer food waste and packaging generated by the concessionaire and disposed of by the fans. The ZWA Blog article, Winning Recycling Seasons: Team Work Required!, provides a recap of the 2013 game day recycling tour with the Mercedes Benz Stadium architects.

The Ei Tours website page details the many Ei-hosted tours, segregated by Farm, Industry, Partner, and SFCI Tours. Each tour is supported by a blog article and Ei FB album.

In July 2017, Ei shifted gears within the spiral of humanity's environmental impact. Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and Post-Consumer Food Waste to Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life. The ZWA Blog article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announces the new platform and showcases the powerful foundation built within the Recycling Refinement platform and Post-Consumer Food waste focus area.

In preparation for the official Soil Health platform announcement, Ei embarked on a Farm Tour series in early 2017 with Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer. Ei Farm Tours are focused on farms following regenerative agricultural practices, with a strong emphasis on rebuilding healthy soils. In addition, Tim stepped into his new Ei Leadership role as the SFCI Chair.

David educates Tim on the food
waste composting windrows
First on the tour agenda was the February tour of the King of Crops Farm, located 25 minutes from downtown Atlanta. King of Pops, a popular hand-crafted popsicle company, purchased the farm to source locally grown organic ingredients nurtured within regenerative agriculture practices. Farm Manager Russell Hondered treated the group to a thorough farm tour including a narrative on its history as a well-established nursery. Remnants from the past are evident throughout the land adding character to the farm.

In addition to farming, King of Crops is a state-permitted food waste compost site. Commercial and residential food waste hauler Compost Wheels delivers their material to the farm. Compost Wheels CEO David Paull joined the tour and educated on the farm food waste composting practices.

Hickory Grove Farm entrance
Next on the agenda was a Kennesaw State University (KSU) Hickory Grove Farm tour. Kim Charick with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 (Southeast Region) joined Tim and Ei Founder Holly Elmore. Farm Operations Manager Michael Blackwell and KSU Professor Jorge Perez gave a thorough farm tour, along with details on the land history.

In 2013 the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) leased the 26-acre tract of land to KSU for farm use. Formally, the site was the GDOT cement mixing site for nearby I-75 construction. Though not toxic, the soil was severely compacted and devoid of necessary minerals to sustain a healthy soil ecosystem. In addition, storm water flowed off the property, rather than hydrate the "dead soil."

Natural farm retention pond
With patience, tenacity and a strategic plan, the KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality restored the land through regenerative agriculture practices. Simple, effective storm water management techniques retain water on the property, including a vibrant natural retention pond. Soil restoration is a partnership with the land; continued nurturing through compost use, crop rotation and other regenerative applications are necessary to maintain and improve soil health.

In addition to serving as a laboratory for the Leven School and other departments, the farm supplies produce for The Commons, KSU's Gold LEED Certified dining hall. The farm's happy hens often supply 100% of the dining service's egg demand!

Student farm worker with
the happy hens
Within the farm operations is the state-of-the-art Hydroponic Lab where tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are grown year round. Student volunteers stamp out soil blocks for seed planting in the Propagation Lab. Once germinated, the seedling soil blocks are planted in the High Tunnel and tended through harvest. By using soil blocks, the use of small plastic containers to grow saplings is eliminated.

Inspired by the farm tours, Tim teamed with Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Matt Roach and GWCC Grounds Operation Manager Steve Ware to identify an on-campus mini-farm area. The intent is to use regenerative agriculture practices at the on-campus mini-farm to produce food for the employee dining facility. 

In late July, Ei hosted the GWCC Team at Hickory Grove Farm where Michael & Jorge educated on regenerative agriculture practices along with crop choice advice; Steve shared his extensive horticulture expertise, especially pertaining to plant | tree identification in the farm's old growth forest areas.

Tour group shot within one of
the American Chesnut sprouts.
In the farm's old growth forest, there are two healthy shoots from former magnificent American Chestnuts killed by the chestnut blight. It is estimated 3 - 4 billion American Chestnuts were killed by the blight in the first half of the 20th century. Though healthy in appearance, the shoots remain vulnerable to the blight.

The GWCC team departed in high spirits, thrilled with on-campus farming opportunities and new friends at a fellow state-owned Institute.

For a pictorial recount of the Hickory Grove Farm tours, visit the Holly Elmore Images FB album, KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality. The Ei FB album, Ei Connects, includes a section on the King of Crops Farm Tour.

Beyond their educational value, tours build strong bonds among industry colleagues and inspire new, innovative projects. Ei is excited to embark on a Farm Tour series filled with new discoveries, inspiration, and empowerment within the Soil Health platform.

The potential GWCC on-campus mini-farm is a prime example of The Power of Tours! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Building a Zero Waste Economy, one step, one city at a time

In late July, Elemental Impact (Ei) hosted U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger on a whirlwind Atlanta zero waste-focused visit. For three days, Stephanie met with Atlanta's sustainability leadership to educate on the USGBC Zero Waste Certification (ZWC) and their commitment to building a Zero Waste Economy.

Stephane presenting at the 2016
Annual Ei Partner Meeting
As the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) Founder & Executive Director, Stephanie and Ei Founder Holly Elmore forged a strong, long-term partnership, with Ei serving as the USZWBC and National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) media partner. The partnership expanded beyond media relations via Ei-hosted NZWBC industry panels, Stephanie presenting at Annual Ei Partner Meetings, and much more.

On October 5, 2016, the USZWBC joined forces with the USGBC. The prominent USZWBC Zero Waste Facility Certification was integrated into the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), a USGBC organization that drives sustainability across all sectors. The ZWA Blog article, USGBC Empowers Zero Waste Industry: USGBC & USZWBC join forces, announces the powerful union.

Stephanie with keynote presenter
Laura Turner Seydel @ 2014 NZWBC
With USZWBC | USGBC | GBCI integration nearing completion, Stephanie steps into her new role transforming markets to embrace zero waste practices and building a Zero Waste Economy. The whirlwind Atlanta visit was designed to reconnect with Atlanta sustainability leadership and educate the Georgia USGBC community on the ZWC.

Atlanta hosted the stellar 2014 NZWBC. Thus, Stephanie is well acquainted with Atlanta's zero waste leaders in the private sector, non-profit realm, and local, state and federal government. It makes good sense to build off the powerful foundation and establish Atlanta as a USGBC zero waste community pillar city.

The meeting marathon began with a multi-billion dollar manufacturing company enthusiastic to understand zero waste in concept and practice. Customer demand for manufacturing sustainability, including zero waste, was the impetus for taking first steps. One of the parting comments was a common Ei zero waste phrase, 
Take Baby Steps, lots & lots of baby steps!
The Epsten Group 
In the afternoon, The Epsten Group hosted Stephanie for a two-hour education session beginning with general zero waste information and finishing with a ZWC overview. Intertwined within Stephanie's presentation, Holly educated on Recycling Refinement, moving beyond landfill diversion, using the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Pilots as prominent examples. It was empowering to showcase Atlanta's pioneers and leadership status. Holly's PPT presentation is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.

The day finished with a light dinner at an eclectic restaurant nestled in Cabbagetown, a neighborhood originally built for the nearby cotton mill workers. Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joined Stephanie and Holly for a fun, relaxed catch-up. 

Under Tim's leadership, the GWCC achieved LEED Silver Certification and is the world's largest LEED Certified conference center. In 2009, the GWCC hosted the prominent Zero Waste Zones' launch press conference, culminating in a CNN Story and a front-page New York Times article. The GWCC is an early zero waste pioneer and hero!

Rubicon condiment station in
employee break area
On the second day, Rubicon hosted Stephanie and Holly for a breakfast meeting in their amazing new offices. As a founding USZWBC member, Rubicon was interested in a leadership role within the USGBC zero waste community. In addition, Rubicon VP Investor Relations Elizabeth Montoya shared the impressive new high tech, app-oriented Rubicon service designed to maximize material collections, enhance route efficiency, and report community observations, such as pot holes in roadways. 

It was a pleasure to witness zero waste practices in action within Rubicon's offices. In the employee break area, beverage condiments are dispersed in individual servings, creating no packaging waste. Honey & blue agave are available in bulk, recyclable packaging. Landfill and recycling bins use Ei Strategic Ally Recycle Across America's standard labeling. ... and Rubicon contracts with close Ei pal Compost Wheels for commercial food waste collection!

Meredith. Laurene & Stephanie
with AJC ZW sign in Cox lobby.
Next on the meeting agenda was a visit to Cox Enterprises (Cox), a long-time Rubicon client. Cox Recycling & Waste Diversion Manager Meredith Brown gave an overview of zero waste initiatives in-place and planned. In addition, Meredith inquired on the leadership opportunities within the USGBC zero waste community. Owned by Cox, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution is the nation's first zero waste-certified newspaper.

Afternoon meetings included visits at Ernst & Young and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Airport), the busiest airport in the world. Airport Senior Sustainability Leader Liza Milagro updated on the concessionaire contract compostable packaging provision implementation. In 2011, Ei worked closely with the Airport on the contract provision and issued the Compostable Packaging Info Packet on behalf of the Airport. The Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet page details the ground-breaking contract provision.

The day ended with a casual, yet powerful, meeting with Mercedes Benz Stadium (MBS) General Manager Scott Jenkins. Only weeks into his new position, Scott delivered his first presentation as MBS General Manager at the 2014 NZWBC. During the design and construction phase, Scott ensured the stadium was built for zero waste success. In a few short weeks, the stadium is slated to host its first game! In his role as the Green Sports Council Chair, Scott and Stephanie strategized on complementary programs in place and how the two organizations may work together. 

USGBC-GA meeting
On the final day, USGBC-GA Director Shelby Buso hosted a meeting to educate the Georgia community on the ZWC. Meeting participants were eager to learn about the USGBC zero waste commitment and share their zero waste challenges, lessons learned, and successes. The City of Atlanta, Office of Resilience Senior Policy Advisor Boyd Leake stayed after the morning meeting to meet privately with Stephanie and Holly. The conversation topic centered on Atlanta serving as a USGBC zero waste pillar city.

Shelby joined Stephanie and Holly for a mid-morning meeting with Tim at his GWCC offices. Tim gave an awesome update on the Georgia Dome decommissioning, GWCC remodeling, and Olympic Centennial Park redesign. Under the GWCC umbrella, the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center is in the LEED Certification application process.

Shelby, Paula & Stephanie
after a fun, inspiring lunch
A fun, productive lunch with Ted's Montana Grill Purchasing & Sustainability Manager Paula Owens was the perfect final meeting on Stephanie's whirlwind Atlanta visit. After meeting Paula at an Annual Ei Partner Meeting, Stephanie invited Paula to present on a food waste-focused plenary panel at the 2016 NZWBC in Austin.

The Ei FB Album, USGBC Zero Waste Certification and Education, includes a pictorial recap of Stephanie's Atlanta visit.

Similar to creating a successful facility zero waste program, a Zero Waste Economy requires a methodical process filled with a multitude of consecutive, small steps. Essential to success is a template where businesses, the local community, and the environment benefit. 

USGBC Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger's July Atlanta visit was a strong step in building a Zero Waste Economy, one step, one city at a time!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life!

In 2017 Elemental Impact (Ei) shifted gears within the spiral of humanity's environmental impact. Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and food waste collection for compost to Soil Healthregenerating the foundation of life. 

Founding ZWZ Participant
Chef Ahmad Nourzad
of Affairs to Remember
Early steps within the Soil Health journey began with the 2009 Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launch; the ZWZ were the nation's forerunner in the collection of commercial food waste for compost. Inaugural ZWZ years were dedicated to raising awareness of food waste compost within the foodservice industry and establishing new sustainable standard operating practices. Founding ZWZ Participants perfected back-of-the-house food waste collection practices and shared their successes with industry colleagues.

The National Resources Defense Council's 2012 Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill issue paper publication alerted mainstream media to the food waste crisis. Numerous powerful organizations formed within the foodservice and retail industries to directly address the crisis and affect change. 

Thus, the established operating practices combined with national food waste awareness earmarked successful completion of Ei's role. In late 2012 the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ; the ZWA Blog article, National Restaurant Association Acquires Zero Waste Zones, announces the monumental milestone in Ei history.

SMAT members collecting food
waste after a Falcon's game.
In 2014 the Sustainable Food Court Initiative announced its stated prime focus was post-consumer food waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill. The Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) supported the SFCI - Georgia Dome Pilot post-consumer food waste projects, ranging from compostable packaging education, post-game food waste collection, and a post-consumer food waste compost pilot at a state-permitted composting facility.

By 2016 numerous sporting event facilities, venues, outdoor festivals and other food-related businesses achieved zero waste, including post-consumer food waste. Thus, Ei's post-consumer food waste-related work was complete.

Steam rising from windrows at a
permitted food waste composting site.
Limited state-permitted food waste composting facilities (or other technologies) are a significant obstacle to mainstream source-separated food waste collection, at the consumer and commercial levels. Using simple economic principles, a stronger demand for food waste compost will drive an increase in capacity, from the opening of new sites to an expansion of existing facilities. By shifting focus to increasing compost demand, Ei embarks on new industry frontiers within the Soil Health platform.

Initial work relates to the education of depleted soils' direct relationship with the carbon crisis, out-of-balance carbon cycles, contaminated waterways, excessive water usage, erosion control, storm water management, and production of nutritious food. In addition, Ei addresses the micro plastic pollution within the soils, similar to the plastic smog prolific in the oceans. The inaugural Soil Health focus areas are: 
As validated in Kiss the Ground's empowering four-minute video, The Soil Story, the carbon problem and the solution are a matter of balance.

Earth Carbon Pools
image courtesy of The Soil Story
Simply: there is too much carbon in the atmosphere and ocean pools. To restore balance, excess carbon must transfer to the fossil, biosphere, and/or soil pools. The Carbon Crisis article referenced above features The Soil Story along with an explanation of the carbon pools and the out-of-balance scenario.

In May 2017 Kiss the Ground released The Compost Story, a sequel to The Soil Story, to an enthusiastic national audience. Ei joined the prominent video launch team and participates in an executive committee focused on developing educational tools. Kiss the Ground intends to develop soil | compost educational materials targeted at three prime sectors: 1> municipalities, 2> schools and 3> businesses. 

U.S. Green Building Council Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger and Ei Founder Holly Elmore took leadership roles in the business sector.

Plastic mulch used on a small
farm's blackberry field
Integral to Kiss the Ground's mission is how regenerative agriculture rebuilds our soils and sequesters atmospheric carbon into the soils. Compost use is integral to regenerative agriculture. Within the Macro Cost of Micro Contamination platform, the Ei Team will initially focus on two main areas:
  1. Contaminant-free food waste stream delivered to commercial, farm and community garden compost operations. BPI Certified Compostable food and beverage serviceware is a must for single-use packaging to prevent fragmented plastic contamination within the finished compost.
  2. Widespread use of plastic mulch and other plastics in conventional farming and agriculture. Plastics fragment into tiny pieces yet does not decompose, causing micro plastic contamination in the soils used to grow food.
Ei Farm Tours are focused on farms following regenerative agricultural practices, with a strong focus on rebuilding health soils. Kennesaw State University's Hickory Grove Farm is an excellent example of a bountiful farm whose regenerative practices brought "dead" soil back to life.

Hickory Grove Farm pond formed
 naturally via simple a simple
storm water management system
By employing simple storm water management practices, a farm pond naturally formed complete with a pair of mallard ducks, ample frogs, and abundant foliage and insects. Pond water is used in the Hydroponic Lab to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers for The Commons, the KSU Gold LEED Certified dining hall.

The Holly Elmore Images FB album, KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality, is a pictorial recap of a recent Hickory Grove Farm tour.

Soil Health brings Ei back to core roots on many levels, including alignment with the Ei mantra:
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.
American Culinary Federation - ATL
President Michael Diehl with then
GA Dept of AG Commissioner Tommy
Irvin at a 2008 GFA event.
In her years as the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) Founder & Executive Director, Holly was a leader in the local, sustainable | farm to table movement. Holly worked closely with the Georgia Department of Agriculture team on launching the first Georgia Grown food show in 2008. Introductions to Atlanta's culinary community were integral to the Georgia Grown food show success. The GFA Advisory Council consisted of prominent Atlanta leadership, including Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black in his prior Georgia Agribusiness Council President role.

Ei was formed in 2010 as the new home for the ZWZ, which was launched as a GFA program. Within the Soil Health platform, Holly may build off her strong sustainable agriculture foundation cultivated within the powerful GFA Producers Task Force.

Soil Health brings a vibrancy to Ei's important work along with renewed and new industry relationships. The spiral of humanity's environmental impact is perpetual; Ei is honored to bring past expertise to new light within Soil Health programs under development.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Green Streets: grass roots social enterprise

Repost of a January 2015 article due to blog technical challenges.

Green Streets film cover
Green Streets - a Citizen Film documentary by Sophie Constantinou - follows 29 year old entrepreneur Tyrone Mullins and his friends as they turn trash into cash in the distressed San Francisco housing projects where they live. Through trial and error, they learn to haul 150,000 gallons of waste per month, creating desperately needed jobs, and establishing recycling where all previous efforts had failed.

With five years of success and a solid business in-place, Green Streets serves as a catalyst for similar programs in urban landscapes. Citizen Film holds work-in-progress Green Streets screenings in the Bay Area on a near-weekly basis, at events ranging from closed-door strategy meetings to public screenings | discussions attended by hundreds.

Green Streets employees
sorting @ an apt. complex.
The frequent screenings to influential public housing, conservation and workforce development stakeholders broadens awareness of Green Streets' powerful impact within under served neighborhoods and the city as a whole. 

Post-screening discussions often result in improved waste management operations. Green Streets is a work-in-progress where setbacks become opportunities to aspire to greater achievements.

More than a business, more than a documentary, Green Streets is a social enterprise with a mission to provide a business service, a social service and an environmental service: a triple bottom line. Within the social service mission, Green Streets is an example of how grass roots enterprises are the catalyst for urban revitalization; under-served populations evolve into well-served, thriving communities.

Green Streets on
the streets
Beyond the screening recognition, Tyrone received the following awards and recognition for Green Streets: an Ashoka Emerging Innovator Award, a fellowship from Stanford University's Project Remade, and a "Champions of Change" Award from the White House.These mainstream high honors validate Green Streets as a prominent leader and recognize the societal implications.

What is social enterprise?  According to the Green Streets FAQ page: A social enterprise operates like a business, but manages its operations in pursuit of human and / or environmental wellbeing. Per Wikipedia: 
A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders.

Green Streets presents social enterprise as the connecting path between the Vicious Cycle - Trauma, Unemployment & Waste - and the Virtuous Cycle - Ownership, Community Restoration & Recycling. The path is two-way or holographic, depending upon perspective.

AMBFF President Penny McPhee
w/ Sophie @ screening
Thanks to the generosity and vision of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation (AMBFF) Green Streets came to Atlanta for a series of screenings, organized discussions, tours and meetings. 

The Wednesday January 14, 2015 Green Streets Atlanta screening was presented by the AMBFF Film Series and set the stage for a powerful week in Atlanta. The ZWA Blog article, Green Streets Comes to Atlanta!, announces the Atlanta screening and visit.

According to their site, the AMBFF Film Series uses the power of documentary film to address a wide range of societal issues. The Foundation recognizes the documentary medium can concurrently spark imagination, illuminate a subject, challenge conventional thinking, entertain and engage audiences, create awareness and inspire action. 

SUCCESS: The Wednesday Green Streets screening was a complete sell-out with standing room only for late arrivals. After introductions by John Bare, AMBFF vice-president for programs, the audience was enthralled with the 45-minute screening on Green Streets' history, creation, challenges and successes.

Following the screening, Sophie moderated a panel of urban innovators and entrepreneurs from Green Streets and Atlanta consisting of the following individuals:
Panel after screening
  • David Mauroff - director of social enterprise at Urban Strategies where he supports the growth and development of Green Streets. In addition, David provides public safety and resident support services assistance to the McCormack Baron portfolio (owner of housing project apartments.)
  • Rohit Malhotra - founder & executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta; Rohit's background includes social entrepreneurship, digital communications and community organizing.
  • Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic - vice-president & market leader for Enterprise Community Partner's Sourtheast. Meaghan's responsibilities include strategic planning and capacity building assistance for preservation, new production and transit-oriented development opportunities to affordable housing and community development.
  • Tyrone Mullins - co-founder of Green Streets. 
Randolph sharing his
experiences on the panel.
Midway through the discussion, Tyrone called Randolph Lee, fellow Green Streets team member, from the audience to join the panel and provide his perspective and experience.

Elemental Impact (Ei) was honored to co-present the Atlanta January 14 screening along with Green Streets, Urban Strategies, Citizen Film and the Fledgling Fund.

The following day the Center for Civic Innovation hosted the Sustainable Thinking: How Green Leads to Good Jobs & Revitalized Neighborhoods roundtable discussion. Ei Founder Holly Elmore was among the community leaders from the various Atlanta sectors to participate in the roundtable. Participants represented global corporations, local | national non-profits, local government, private enterprise, schools and clergy.  

After an eight-minute Green Streets film and participant introductions, David moderated and Sophie filmed the vibrant discussions.

Tyrone on the screen; Sophie
standing in reverence.
The conversation centered on unique challenges facing urban entrepreneurs; innovative partnerships and business practices are key to creating healthy, prosperous working environments. For instance, Tyrone mentioned the importance of mental health services to Green Streets success. Through therapy employees understand trigger points, heal wounds from emotional | physical trauma and grow as workers and individuals. 

Two staffing agencies who employ ex-convicts, veterans and severely under-employed individuals shared valuable insights on how to segue challenges into successful long-term employment opportunities. In addition, Re-Entry Coalition executive director Bob Jackson was active in roundtable discussions and lunch afterwards.

Ei Partner Novelis, the world's largest aluminum recycler and manufacturer of rolled aluminum, was a strong roundtable participant. Parting conversation included a potential Green Streets screening at Novelis' Atlanta global headquarters. Synergies abound: 
  • Novelis is the Atlanta Falcons Recycling Partner. 
  • Arthur Blank owns the Atlanta Falcons.
  • Green Streets team with
    Novelis associates
  • The Georgia Dome, home of the Falcons, is the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Event Venue Pilot.
  • Ei works closely with Scott Jenkins, New Falcons Stadium general manager and Green Sports Alliance Chair.
  • AMBFF recently committed $15 million to the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund to assist the neighborhoods near the New Falcons Stadium become safer, healthier and more prosperous.
  • Ei's Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template Pilot is anchored at the Georgia Dome with tremendous common ground to partner with an Atlanta Green Streets.
  • Many new connections were made among the local roundtable participants with commitments to meet in the next weeks to continue the conversation.
Thursday evening the Atlanta University Center Consortium - the largest contiguous consortium of African American private institutions of higher education in the nation - hosted a Green Streets screening at Clark Atlanta University. The enthusiastic crowd was eager to present questions to David, Tyrone and Randolph in the post-screening panel discussion.

Friday morning began with the final Atlanta screening at the Fulton Leadership Academy (FLA) - where young men soar to greater heights. It was an inspirational visit for Tyrone, Randolph and the students; lifelong education was a key message in the post-screening discussions. 

Green Streets team with
Scott Jenkins @ GA Dome
With fortitude, leadership and achievement as core values, the FLA is committed to a rigorous academic environment that empowers young men in grades 6-12 to become productive civic leaders. Within the offered curriculum, there is a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and a thematic approach that integrates experiences with aviation and aeronautics.

After "soaring" with the young men, the Green Streets team met with Scott Jenkins for an overview of the New Falcons Stadium construction and operations.

WOW: the Georgia Dome marquees were lit up with the following two messages:
  • Welcome Green Streets!
  • Happy Birthday Tyrone!
Thank you to Scott and the Georgia Dome staff for going the extra yards with the marquee messages. The marquees expressed appreciation at a level not possible with words.

Tyrone with his Happy Birthday sign
What an honor for Tyrone to spend his 30th birthday in Atlanta sharing Green Streets with our grand city. The odds were against Tyrone making it to this life milestone; not only did he survive, Tyrone is THRIVING as a prominent contributor to necessary social consciousness shifts. 

The inaugural Atlanta Green Streets visit planted fertile seeds for future visits to build empowering social enterprise grass roots programs. Discussions segued into food waste composting at created community gardens in distressed neighborhoods. 

The Ei FB album, Green Streets Comes to Atlanta, gives a pictorial recap of the empowering visit.

Atlanta is ripe for social enterprise to build a stable path from a Vicious Cycle to a Virtuous Cycle in our diverse communities... and remember prosperous social sectors have their own Vicious Cycles to transform. 

Thank you Green Streets for your vision, fortitude, leadership and commitment to sharing. Thank you to The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation for bringing Green Streets to Atlanta!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Circular Economy Approach for Urban Nutrient Cycles

On March 28, 2017 the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) issued the groundbreaking Urban Biocycles scoping paper as an introduction to a Circular Economy approach for urban nutrient cycles. The well-researched paper addresses the valuable nutrients within current organic waste streams and how urban environments disrupt nature's perfected nutrient cycles. 

In August 2012 the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published the Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food form Farm to Fork to Landfill issue paper, researched and written by Senior Scientist & Author Dana Gunders. The NRDC paper opened America's eyes and hearts to the global food crisis. Ignited by the paper, pursuing awareness and action produced a multitude of food waste reduction initiatives, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Food Recovery Challenge.

While the NRDC paper brought the food waste crisis to center stage, the EMF Urban Biocycles paper expands the scope to all organic streams with a focus on economic-driven solutions. A consciousness shift from disposition | treatment to capturing valuable nutrients within productive cycles is at the paper's foundation.

Similar to the NRDC paper's impact, the EMF Urban Biocycles scoping paper is staged to propel global action with a shifted perspective on organic waste solutions. A basic premise is natural cycles produce no waste; nutrients are continuously recycled within the perfected cycles. Elemental Impact (Ei) wrote on this topic in the 2012 ZWA Blog article Perpetual Life Cycle Systems - simplicity is key. The article opens with the following paragraph:
In nature "waste" does not exist, rather a perpetual life cycle rearranges molecular structures so the finished product for one use is the basis for its next life. Using modern technology, on-farm anaerobic digestion systems seem to emulate nature's integrated approach to resource management.
Ei Team during on-farm AD tour
The key to success in the featured on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) system was the entire nutrient cycle remained on the farm. Livestock manure fueled the on-farm AD system; the AD digestate by-product was used for livestock bedding, which returned to the AD system once soiled with manure; the nutrient-rich AD water by-product irrigated the fields used to grow livestock feed; the AD plant supplied the farm with ample electricity. Thus, the complete on-farm nutrient cycle flowed with perpetuity. 

Urban development breaks natural cycles by transporting nutrients outside of their respective cyclic boundaries. Agricultural products are often not consumed within the farm vicinity. Thus, plant | animal remains no longer decompose back into the farm grounds as nutrients for the soil's microbial community. Two challenges ensue: 1> soils are deprived of nutrients within the cycle and 2> nutrients are deposited outside of the cycle system in the form of food waste and human | animal excrement.

Modern farming relies heavily on synthetic fertilizers to replace the lost nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Yet these same nutrients cause havoc, including "dead zones," as they flow through sewer systems and water treatment facilities into waterways and oceans. According to the EMF paper: 
Urban waste streams represent a significant opportunity to recover nutrients and return them to the soil. In theory, the recovery of 100% of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in global food, animal and human waste streams could contribute nearly 2.7 times the nutrients contained in volume of chemical fertiliser currently used.
Small-scale biofuel production
By crafting regenerative nutrient cycles within urban environments, organic streams shift from "expensive waste" to valuable raw materials. In addition to soil enhancements, bioenergy generation is integral to the Circular Economy model, including AD and biorefineries. From the EMF paper: The World Economic Forum estimates that potential global revenues from the biomass value chain – comprising the production of agricultural inputs, biomass trading and biorefinery outputs – could be as high as USD 295 billion by 2020.

Throughout the paper, well-documented research is used to substantiate the two main sections: The Biocycle Economy and The Circular Economy Vision – how to close the nutrient loops. In addition the paper is filled with case studies from around the globe and call-out boxes for barriers to potential solutions.

The Urban Biocycles paper was issued under the Project Mainstream (PM) umbrella. Launched in 2014 by EMF and the World Economics Forum, PM is a multi-industry, global initiative.

PM aims to accelerate business-driven innovations and help scale the Circular Economy (building awareness of it, and increasing impact and implementation). It focuses on systemic stalemates in global material flows that are too big or too complex for an individual business, city or government to overcome alone, as well as on enablers of the Circular Economy, such as digital technologies.

In January 2016 PM issued the monumental The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics. The January 2017 report The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action provides a global action plan to move towards 70% reuse and recycling of plastic packaging, endorsed by over 40 industry leaders, while highlighting the need for fundamental redesign and innovation of the remaining 30%.

Intention is to follow a similar path with the Urban Biocycles paper. The inaugural paper delineates the current scenario, complete with documented research, case studies, potential solutions and barriers to implementation. In 2017, PM intends to develop an action plan to present at the January 2018 World Economics Forum at Davos. 

Congratulations to EMF Project Manager & Lead Author Dale Walker on an excellent job researching, organizing the multitude of information, and writing the superb Urban Biocycles scoping paper.

Using a Circular Economy approach, the EMF takes a high level global perspective for resolving challenges to sustain civilization | humanity. Inherent within the Circular Economy approach is recognizing the myriad of intertwining cycles at play within the global economy.

The ZWA article, Carbon Crisis: merely a matter of balance, explains the Earth's carbon cycles are out-of-balance and offers the soil as the hero for a simple balance restoration solution. Kiss the Ground's The Soil Story video is featured in the article as a creative, effective carbon cycle explanation along with a grass roots action plan. The Soil Story's sequel The Compost Story is slated for a May 2017 release to correspond with International Compost Awareness Week.

A combination of global, long-term, research-oriented planning coupled with immediate, action-oriented, grass roots efforts is a recipe for a Circular Economy to emerge. Ei is honored to support the global planning and grass roots efforts.

Ei Chair Scott Seydel serves on the EMF USA Board and Ei Founder Holly Elmore is listed in the Urban Biocycles paper credits as an Expert Input and Case Study Contributor. In addition, Ei is a launch partner for The Compost Story.

When humanity aligns with natural cycles a magical balance comes forth where businesses, communities and the environment thrive in harmony. Organizations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation are conduits for balance restoration within the Earth's cycles.


About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was established in 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to the circular economy. Since its creation the charity has emerged as a global thought leader, establishing the circular economy on the agenda of decision makers across business, government and academia. With the support of its Core Philanthropic Funder, SUN, and Knowledge Partners (Arup, IDEO, McKinsey & Company, and SYSTEMIQ), the Foundation’s work focuses on five interlinking areas: Education, Business & Government, Communications, Insight & Analysis, and Systemic Initiatives.