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Monday, August 11, 2014

Contract provisions require team work necessary for zero waste success

Zero waste icons like Piazza Produce and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company paved the way for zero waste success and set industry standards. The common ingredient for success: TEAM WORK! In the September 2012 ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, Piazza Produce is featured with facility manager Scott Lutocka emphasizing the team work required internally between departments and externally with the supply chain.

At the 2014 U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) Conference, Sierra Nevada sustainability coordinator Cherie Chastain ended her prominent Brewing a Platinum Zero Waste Program presentation with a Lessons Learned slide. The final lesson: Remember ... zero waste is a team effort!.

Scott holding his Gold USZWBC
Certification with Sue Beets,
USZWBC president
In November 2013 Sierra Nevada received the first USZWBC Platinum Zero Waste Certification for reusing, re-purposing or recycling an impressive 99.8% of waste generated in their operations. At the 2014 USZWBC Conference, Scott Lutocka accepted Pizza Produce's Gold Zero Waste Certification for their 95% recycling rate. The ZWA Blog article, USZWBC Conference Theme: Zero Waste Evolution, is a conference overview along with copy on Piazza Produce's certification.

Common ground for Piazza Produce and Sierra Nevada is overall management has control of the team work required. Either the teammates are employees or suppliers, often with no binding contracts. 

For many organizations, zero waste practices are challenging due to tenant, janitorial or complex waste & recycling contracts. As an example, an office center generally does not control the material generated by their tenants and is at the mercy of a janitorial contract executed without regard to zero waste practices. Event venues, hotels, airports, shopping malls and other large facilities are in similar scenarios where contracts in-place control their ability to create a comprehensive recycling program.

Hartsfiled-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) - the busiest airport in the world and the Sustainable Food Court Initiative - Airport Pilot - took a bold stand in 2011 when Michael Cheyne, ATL director of sustainability and asset management, included a compostable packaging contract provision in the ATL Concessionaire RFP. Michael understood compostable packaging was a key element to post-consumer food waste collection success; a legally binding contract provision was essential to ensure food vendors were team players.

In the October 2011 ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Sustainable Statement, the following ATL concessionaire contract provision was announced:
Concessionaire shall use compostable serviceware along with consumer facing packaging and source separate all food service wastes for direct transport to off airport composting facilities.
Typical food court trash 
Though the provision spirit remained consistent, the language for the final concessionaire contracts was modified to flow within the document section.

The SFCI Team worked closely with Michael and his associates on developing the Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet, a three-section document: Introduction, Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions. In addition, the team provided a Materials Usage document designed to track concessionaire compliance with the contract provision.

Due to the vast number of ATL food vendors, the new concessionaire contract was implemented in stages over eighteen months. With the implementation complete, the ATL sustainability and concessions departments are working together on a game plan to notify food vendors the provision must be met by a specified time. Discussions are underway for a possible phase-in by compostable packaging type - cups, flatware, plates, to-go boxes, sandwich wrap etc.

On August 8 the Elemental Impact (Ei) Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) toured concessionaire operations with Liza Milagro - ATL senior sustainability planner - who is overseeing the compostable packaging compliance roll out. The meeting was an introduction to the industry expert support system available to Liza for document preparation and other inquiries.

SMAT group with Liza
With most major restaurant concepts, local to global, represented at the ATL, the contract provision implementation sets the stage for an overhaul of food court packaging. From Starbucks to PF Chang's to TGI Fridays to Chick-fil -A, restaurant chains are legally bound to serve to-go food and beverage in compostable packaging. 

Until zero waste-oriented contract provisions are an industry standard, it takes bold leaders like the ATL to shift industry practices. In addition to bold, the leader must have a strong market hold where such provisions are a given and not part of contract negotiations. 

With the Georgia Dome - current home of the Atlanta Falcons - serving as the SFCI - Event Venue Pilot, the SMAT works closely with Scott Jenkins, New Falcons Stadium general manager. Scott has a strong zero waste pedigree from his tenure at Safeco Field where his team brought the stadium to 90%+ recycling. As the new stadium RFPs are issued zero waste-oriented provisions are a given where appropriate. According to Scott:
"Contract language is a key element that sets the appropriate expectations of all parties involved in any zero waste initiative. Zero waste is a team effort that requires every party to be on the same page."
Scott Jenkins & Ei founder
Holly Elmore
Thanks to excellent team work, the University of North Carolina - Charlotte's (UNCC) new Jerry Richardson Stadium opened with first season zero waste success. The Zero Waste initiative recognized for outstanding collaboration and partnership is an excellent overview of how UNC staff, students and foodservice provider Chartwells worked in unison to achieve zero waste success. 

According to Devin Hatley, UNCC environmental educator & volunteer coordinator, the stadium janitorial contract included a provision requiring staff to follow UNCC zero waste practices. Note Chartwells was a driver in the zero waste program without any specified provisions.

Ei founder Holly Elmore and Ei general counsel Greg Chafee of Thompson Hine are crafting an industry paper dedicated to contract provisions that support zero waste practices. The paper will provide simple contract language examples for service provider, tenant or other contracts critical to program success or demise.

Across the board, zero waste icons agree team work is essential to success. Without public policy or regulations, legally binding contract provisions are an answer to gathering critical players on the same page, same paragraph, same sentence!

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