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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"Seeing is Believing" - the magic of tours

At the foundation of Elemental Impact's tagline Sustainability in ACTION is integrity.  Ei Partners are committed to working as a team to develop flexible programs and practices that evolve along with shifts in technology, circumstances and economic parameters. Education is essential to weave integrity within program|practice development.

Jim Lanier w/ Earth Farms
educating Ei Ptrs
Tours are excellent vehicles to learn first-hand about industry practices and fellow partner business expertise. Ei hosts industry and partner tours designed for experiential education, strategic planning and bonding among the Ei Team. Tour participation is open to Ei Partners, Strategic Allies and Advisory Council Members.

March was full of amazing tours beginning with the powerful Charlotte Ei Partner Tours. The IMPACT Blog  post, Charlotte Ei Partner Toursis an overview of the two days hosted by Ei Partners HMSHost and Simon Property Group. The ZWA Blog post, Bring the Possible out of Impossible, dives deeper into the tours & presentations with a focus on food waste collection, wasted food donation and plastic film recycling.

As the month closed Ei embarked on a series of metro-Atlanta educational tours focused on existing operations and exploring innovative technology.


With the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Atlanta Airport pilot shift to Republic Services for their waste & recycling services, Michael Cheyne - Atlanta Airport director, asset management & sustainability - requested a tour of the airport's recycling stream destination. Republic delivers the airport recycling stream to the PrattRecycling MRF (material recovery facility) in East Point.

Myles & Scott during tour
With schedules flowing, Ei Chair Scott Seydel and Myles Cohen - Pratt Recycling president- made the tour a priority in their hectic calendars.The tour started with a presentation of Pratt Industries & Pratt Recycling - impressive! Then Myles took the group, including Republic Services associates in-charge of the airport contract, on a MRF tour.


Simplicity is the theme at the Pratt MRF, which results in cost-effective, clean material bales. Mixed paper & OCC (old corrugated cardboard) are transferred to the Pratt mill in Conyers as feedstock for their 100% recycled content cardboard production. Other content is sold in the commodity market for recycling.

Contaminated material not fit for recycling is used in the Pratt Mill's gasification plant, none is landfill destined. The Ei FB album, 03-25-13 Pratt MRF Tour, is a pictorial recap of the tour.

compost screening @ Wilbros
Later in the week Michael, Ei founder Holly Elmore and Melissa Selem traveled to Toccoa, 90 miles north of Atlanta, to visit Wilbros Organic Recovery & Biofuels facility. As of this post writing, Wilbros is the only composting site in GA permitted to accept food waste that is accepting food waste. Only one hauler, Southern Green Industries - an Ei Supporter - is collecting Atlanta commercial food waste for transport to Wilbros.

Wiblros founder Joe Wilbanks gave an excellent facility tour including their on-site water treatment system, biofuel production and composting site. Despite local odor complaints, the site had the sweet smell of compost, not offensive to anyone who loves soil. For a tour pictorial recap, see the Ei FB album, 03-29-13 Wilbros Organic Recovery & Biofuels Tour.

In mid 2012 SFCI Atlanta Airport Pilot went into a holding pattern while the new airport concessions contract went into effect. Here is a quick summary of the contract status: 
The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport concessionaire contract requires food vendors to use compostable serviceware along with consumer facing packaging for single-use items.  Due to the phase-in nature of the contract, the entire Airport will be operational under the new contract in the first quarter 2014.  The Airport’s on-site food waste composting system is scheduled to accept material by the end of 2014.  Although encouraged to meet the provision upon opening, concessionaires operate within a grace period until December 31, 2014, upon which the compostable packaging provision will be enforced.
For details on the contract provision along with the SFCI Team supporting role, see the ZWA Blog post, Atlanta Airport Makes Bold Statement, for details on the contract provision. 

SFCI Team tours the Int'l
Concourse near end of  construction
In mid-April, the SFCI Team reconvenes at the International Concourse for a tour & meeting. With a new waste & recycling hauler, fresh energy is interjected into the Team. Ei Partner HMSHost operates the International Concourse foodservice and is a true team player.Action is around the corner!

Rounding out the March tours Scott and Holly were treated to a tour of the recently opened GenAgain plant located in Lithia Springs. Using innovative technology, GenAgain accepts "dirty plastic" generally landfilled or sent overseas.and returns it to petroleum. Plastic contaminated with oil, such as motor oil containers, are perfect for GenAgain. Landfill destined rigid plastics from toys, lawn furniture etc. are accepted once non-plastic items (batteries for example) are removed and the plastic is chipped to a specified size.

Scott & GenAgain managing
partner Robin Curtis at tour end
Currently, three other U.S. plants are operating with the same technology and GenAgain plans to build 15 more plants in the Southeast over the next five years. Once opening glitches are discovered, Ei intends  to schedule a tour with Atlanta zero waste leaders to maximize the recycling opportunities offered by GenAgain.

"Seeing is Believing" is inherent within the importance of tours.  With the plethora of educational tools available - webinars, videos, photo albums - there is something magical about the physical presence. Witnessing the passion of facility owners & managers as they educate on their operations is beyond inspiring. Synergies abound and potentials often move into action.  Stay tuned for future Ei Tours and action points from the March tour marathon.

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