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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Milk Jugs Recycled @ Atlanta Airport

Thanks to HMSHost's unwavering sustainability commitment, the used milk jugs at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Starbucks locations are collected, compacted, baled and sold as valuable material.  HMSHost operates nine Airport Starbucks and developed the program in early 2011 as a pilot in the world's busiest airport.

Orwak Baler
With approximately 2600 milk jugs used per week, to date the program has kept over 135,200 milk jugs, roughly 7.5 tons, from their prior landfill destination.  Note the plastic syrup containers are included in the bales.  According to Rick Moore, HMSHost Starbucks Manager, the revenue from the material sale at a nearby MRF (materials recovery facility) offsets the the baler lease cost.

While developing the program, Rick performed an informal waste audit on the back-of-the-house waste containers.  To his amazement, over 90% of the "trash" generated were milk jugs and syrup containers.  The Ei FB album, 12-05-12 SFCI ATL Airport Milk Jug Recycling, gives a pictorial play by play of the collection, compacting and baling process.

Baled milk jugs ready for sale
Atlanta success was the catalyst for the HMSHost - Tampa Airport team to lease a baler for their Starbucks milk jugs as well as other material generated in their concessions operations.  Plastic film works well.  Perry Kranias, HMSHost -Tampa Operations Manager, is working on expanding their source-separate recycling to all material generated with a strong local commodity market.


GA Tech - GWCC ATL Airport tour
HMSHost, a Zero Waste Zones Participant, shares their successful program logistics with fellow participants.  In March, Cindy Jackson and Maria Linderoth of Georgia Tech and Tim Trefzer of the GA World Congress Center Authority took an Atlanta Airport field trip to explore how source-separated baling operations could work in their operations.  Susan Stanton with Orwak, the baler manufacturer, joined the tour and answered questions about the different baling models, capabilities and logistics.

While in Atlanta for the 2012 Plastics Recycling Conference, Susan Long, Starbucks environmental impact manager, toured the Concourse A milk jug recycling operations. With Rick and Susan (Stanton) present, Susan (Long) received a thorough overview of the program.

Susan Stanton, Susan Long &
Rick Moore 
As the Sustainable Food Court Initiative's first pilot, the Atlanta Airport takes a proactive stand in their sustainability commitment.  The ZWA Blog post, Atlanta Airport - First SFCI Pilot!, announces the ATL Airport SFCI Pilot and the post, Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Statement, details the airport concessions contract provision requiring compostable packaging use.

The tides are turned as companies understand the value of material generated in their operations.  Beyond diversion from landfill, astute recycling managers know to source-separate material for sale, rather than pay for it to leave in single-stream recycling programs.  ZWZ Participant Piazza Produce, turned their waste | recycling cost center into a recycling profit center when they implemented zero waste practices.  To date, their source-separated recycling program has improved the bottom line by approximately $30,000.

Several pilots dedicated to baling source-separated material are close to implementation.  Stay tuned for future ZWA Blog posts with pilot details and other success tales from the zero waste journey.

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