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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
facility
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.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Power of Connection

One of Elemental Impact (Ei)'s valuable industry roles is connecting colleagues | organizations together who share synergistic missions and programs. Often introductions evolve into important Ei initiatives. Other times introductions result in powerful alliances yet do not directly involve Ei in subsequent programs.

NRA & USCC associates post-meeting
A prime example is Ei's 2011 introduction of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to the U.S. Composting Council (USCC). As home to the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) - the nation's forerunner for the commercial collection of food waste for compost, Ei worked closely with the foodservice industry on collection of food waste for composting. In addition, Ei developed a strong relationship with the USCC and food waste compost manufacturers.

It was natural to introduce the respective national trade associations for food waste generators to food waste destinations. SUCCESS: the ZWA Blog article, Collaboration is Key to Successannounces the formal Memorandum of Understanding executed between the NRA and the USCC.
  
The Ei Team - Industry Pioneers, Industry Experts, Strategic Allies and Advisory Council - is a powerful entourage of industry leadership eager to share their expertise, experience and wisdom. Ei introductions are central to a multitude of successful pilots, programs, grants and relationships.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
The EPA Region 4 was instrumental in the ZWZ launch and worked closely with Ei Founder Holly Elmore, then Green Foodservice Alliance Founder & Executive Director, on developing the program. With a solid relationship, Ei and the EPA continue to work together on industry initiatives.

EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC:
In 2011, Charlotte-based Concord Mills accepted the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Shopping Mall Pilot role with an emphasis on food waste collection for composting, excess food donation and plastic film recycling. A strong relationship developed with Mecklenburg County Government along with a powerful network of Charlotte businesses and organizations.

EPA Grant Team
photo courtesy of Steve Davies
When Ei Strategic Ally Green Blue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) submitted the EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC grant proposal, Ei was included as a lead sub-grantee. Ei’s role centered on powerful Charlotte government and private enterprise connections, commercial food waste program experience, grant work documentation via blog articles & FB albums, and coordination of grant team visits.

The ZWA Blog article, Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC, gives an overview of grant objectives, tasks and goal.

During the two-year grant period - October 2013 to September 2015 - Ei orchestrated five Charlotte visits filled with powerful meetings, site visits | tours along with productive dinners where the magic flowed into action plans. The Ei Charlotte Visits page documents the important visits.

Food Recovery Challenge:
In 2011 the EPA introduced the Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) as a response to the incredible volume of food waste and wasted food destined for landfills. EPA Region 4 focused their 2014 FRC launch on the hospitality sector. 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.

With strong connections to foodservice industry leaders, Ei joined the FRC as an Endorser, committing to recruit Program Participants as well as additional Endorsers.

The GWCC EPA FRC meeting
In February 2014 Holly and EPA Environmental Scientist Kim Charick embarked on a meeting | call marathon recruiting FRC Program Participants and Endorsers. It was empowering to reconnect with the early zero waste pioneers, most Founding ZWZ Participants.

Eager to join, the pioneers receive recognition for their impressive food waste practices and serve as role models for those new to donation and food waste collection programs. The ZWA Blog article, Ei Joins EPA Food Recovery Challenge, recaps the recruiting process while the Ei FB album, EPA Food Recovery Challenge, is a pictorial recount of the meetings.

2016 Earth Day Farmer's Market:
Due to Ei's strong, longstanding EPA Region 4 relationship, Public Relations Specialist Davina Marraccini called Ei to recommend a chef for the 2016 Atlanta Federal Center Earth Day Farmer’s Market the following week.

Thanks to Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer's quick action, Levy Restaurants Chef Juliet educated students and attendees at the event. Levy Restaurants provides the foodservice for the GWCC and its affiliated facilities.

Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC)
The ZWZ launched in February 2009 at the GWCC in an acclaimed press conference led by the EPA Region 4 Acting Regional Director. Thus, the strong GWCC | Ei relationship is grounded within Ei's foundation.

SFCI Team @ Ga Dome 
In spring 2012, the Georgia Dome accepted the SFCI Event Venue Pilot invitation. Along with the GWCC and Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Dome was one of three facilities under the state-owned Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA). In addition, the GWCCA manages the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.

With the spring 2017 Georgia Dome decommissioning, the SFCI Event Venue Pilot shifts to the GWCC.

Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech):
At Holly's request, Cindy Jackson, Georgia Tech manager, solid waste management & recycling, hosted Tim for an afternoon of fun and education at the GA Tech campus.  

GWCC Ga Tech Tour
The gathering catalyst was Tim's enthusiasm to create a successful Atlanta Falcon's tailgate recycling program for the 2012 season. Years ago Cindy launched GA Tech tailgate recycling on game days with success and was happy to share her program logistics. Conversation quickly moved beyond tailgate recycling to GA Tech's comprehensive program, culminating in an amazing campus tour. 

Subsequent to the introduction, GA Tech and GWCC developed a close working relationship and Tim | Cindy separately thanked Ei for the introduction. The ZWA Blog post, ZWZ Participants Work Together, is an overview of the tour and the Ei FB album, 02-27-12 GA Tech Hosts GWCC, is the pictorial recap. 

Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session:
Ei Partner Rick Lombardo educates
on compostable bags
Ready to expand their recycling practices to the next dimension, Tim requested Ei to present a comprehensive Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session to Levy Restaurants' downtown campus, including the GWCC, Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, Phillips Arena and the under-construction Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

The Ei Team crafted a powerful two-hour session that included ample time for Q&A and discussion throughout the presentations. On April 8, 2015 the Ei Partners converged on Atlanta for the Levy education session.

The ZWA Blog article, Compostable F&B Packaging: integral to zero waste programs and soil rebuilding, is an overview of the session and the important role packaging plays in zero waste programs; the Ei FB album, 04-08-15 Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session, gives a session pictorial recap. 

King of Crops Farm Tour:
David educating Tim on food
waste composting-in-process
On February 6, 2017, Ei orchestrated a King of Crops Farm food waste composting tour for Tim. Compostwheels Founder David Paull hosted the tour; CW partners with King of Crops for commercial food waste composting at the farm. ... and Holly's home food waste is delivered to the farm!

A pictorial recount of the tour is included in the Ei FB album, Ei Connects.


SC State Government & Hospitality Association
ZWZ Tours:
Ei has a longstanding history with South Carolina (SC) government and the state's hospitality industry. In August 2011 the SC Hospitality Association (SCHA) brought a contingent of Board members, business association executives and City of Columbia staff and councilman to Atlanta for a ZWZ tour. The ZWA Blog article, ATL ZWZ Team Hosts SC Hospitality Tour, gives an overview of the tour, documenting the strong food waste recovery enthusiasm; the Ei FB album, 08-11 SCHA ATL ZWZ Tour, gives a pictorial recount.

SC zero waste tour group
With the SC operators on-board, the SCHA came to Atlanta in November 2011 for a second tour focused on the commercial food waste composting destination. The November contingent consisted of trade association | non-profit executives, city & state officials along with two Columbia hotel executives. From Atlanta, EPA Region 4 and Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sustainability Division staff joined the Ei-hosted tour and meetings to share their ZWZ program development experiences. 

The ZWA Blog article, An Encore ZWZ Performance, documents the tour. For the tour pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB albums, DAY 1 - SC Hospitality 2nd ATL ZWZ Tour and DAY 2 - SC Hospitality 2nd ATL ZWZ Tour.

Upstate Food Recovery Event: 
Kim Brunson with Publix 
On October 6, 2015 the SC Department of Commerce (SCDC) hosted the Upstate Food Recovery Event in Greenville. Prominent industry leaders shared their impressive food recovery practices in-place, along with goals for further reducing, donating and composting food waste. In recognition of their longstanding Ei relationship, Holly gave the keynote presentation during the locally-sourced lunch served on compostable serviceware.

Holly's presentation ended with the vital role food waste collection for compost plays in rebuilding our soils. Healthy soils produce nutritious, delicious food, retain | filter water, and prevent excessive erosion. Holly's PPT presentation is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page. The ZWA Blog article, SC ripe for food recovery, gives an event overview, including presentations by Publix, Michelin and other industry leaders.

U.S Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC)
Ei and the USZWBC forged a strong relationship from its 2012 inception when Holly presented at the inaugural National Zero Waste Business Conference. With tremendous synergies, Ei connections were a valuable resource as the USZWBC grew in prominence.

USZWBC Board signing
USGBC documents
On October 5, 2016 the U.S.Green Building Council (USGBC) and USZWBC formally joined forces to advance zero waste business practices. The ZWA Blog article, USGBC Empowers Zero Waste Industry: USGBC & USZWBC join forces, announces the monumental achievement for the zero waste industry.

Ei continues to work closely with former USZWBC Executive Director Stephanie Barger in her new USGBC Director of Market Development, Zero Waste Programs position.

Ei-Hosted NZWBC Panels:
Zero Waste is a Team Sport panel
At the second annual NZWBC, Holly orchestrated the first Ei-hosted panel presentation, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, comprised of Ei Partners. The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, a powerful USZWBC conference panel, gives an overview of the panel presentations.

Thus, an Ei-hosted conference panel model was born: Holly crafts a pertinent panel topic, recruits panelist from the Ei Team, coaches panel PPT presentations to ensure seamless flow, and moderates the panel at the conference. The Ei-Hosted Conference Panel page details the plethora of conference panels.

Ei-hosted panels were standard practice at future NZWBC.

2014 NZWBC Conference:
Ei took a leadership role in bringing the 2014 NZWBC to Atlanta and influenced the local flavor of the excellent conference program. ZWZ Chair & Ei Advisor Laura Turner Seydel welcomed conference attendees to Atlanta with her opening remarks. In addition to USZWBC introductions to Atlanta zero waste icons, Ei hosted the following panels:

Scott Jenkins & Holly
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
  • The Atlanta Zero Waste Story, opening plenary panel moderated by Holly
  • Scaling Up Compost in Charlotte, NC, breakout panel moderated by Holly
  • Recycling Refinement ... moving beyond landfill diversion, breakout panel moderated by Holly
  • Zero Waste, Georgia Grown, breakout panel moderated by then Ei Program Administrator Melissa Selem
The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Shines as Zero Waste Conference Host City, provides an in-depth synopsis on Ei Partners' and Strategic Allies' role in the conference program.

USZWBC | NZWBC Official Media Partner:
Ei served as the Official NZWBC Media Partner for the 2014, 2015 & 2016 conferences and as the Official USZWBC Media partner for 2015 & 2016. In addition to writing USZWBC-related blog articles, Ei served as a connection base for the USZWBC on many fronts. With the USZWBC under the USGBC umbrella, the strong Ei relationship moves into a broader scope.

Zero Food Waste Journeys
In 2015 the Ei SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - embarked on zero food waste journeys at two prominent Atlanta events, RayDay and Afternoon in the Country (AITC). Both events were hosted by the Inn at Serenbe, within the Serenbe community.

Boyd Leak and Doug &
his wife working AITC
SFCI Co-Chair Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks took a leadership role with SMAT during the education, planning, and execution phases. The first step was to educate event organizers on the importance of using BPI-Certified compostable serviceware. Ei contracted with Let Us Compost (LUC) to orchestrate the AITC | RayDay on-site food waste compost operations along with post-event follow-up.

Amidst idyllic weather and a sole foodservice provider, RayDay achieved zero food waste, including the kitchen scraps from the food truck caterer.

While a perfect scenario came together for RayDay, AITC was riddled with extraordinary challenges on event day. A rainy event day, coupled with prior ten days straight of rain, culminated in tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the event. ... and there were 90+ chefs | restaurants participating at AITC! Thanks to heroic team work, a total of 1,800 pounds of food waste was composted on site.

With perfect timing for the 2016 Annual Ei Partner Meeting, NatureWorks published the RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction and Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case studies to showcase the 2015 Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys. The case studies are announced in the IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2016: Year of Recognition, within the powerful meeting recap.

The ZWA Blog article, NatureWorks publishes zero food waste case studies, gives an overview of the case studies along with links to download the documents.

Affairs to Remember (ATR)
In 2009 ATR was designated Atlanta's First ZWZ Caterer by the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA), the ZWZ founding organization within the Georgia Restaurant Association umbrella. In addition, ATR Managing Director Patrick Cuccaro served on the GFA Advisory Board and was instrumental with Ei's 2010 formation as the new ZWZ home.

The Ei | ATR connection grows stronger each year. With exemplary hospitality, ATR hosts powerful Ei-orchestrated introductory meetings. Beyond the important business at hand, guests are treated to a divinely delicious experience!

ATR Ei Tree planting team
For Ei's five-year anniversary, ATR planted a six-foot Shrangri-La Ginkgo tree honoring Ei in the Virginia - Highlands neighborhood. 

Sponsored by Councilmember Felicia Moore, the City of Atlanta proclaimed November 11, 2014 "Affairs to Remember Caterers Day" in recognition of sustainability efforts, and in particular the milestone of having diverted one million pounds of recoverable materials from Georgia landfills. 

The ZWA Blog article, ... and the journey began with a delicious divorce from the landfill!, announces the proclamation and includes the ATR sustainability story along with several of the below introductions.

SC ZWZ Tours:
In the above mentioned SC ZWZ Tours, ATR hosted a lovely lunch at their offices for the August 2011 tours. In addition to an impressive ATR facility tour, guests were treated to a 100% compostable boxed lunch. Back in 2011 it took research and ingenuity to craft a compostable lunch with readily available products. 

Green Seal (GS) Lunch:
ATR GS lunch group photo
When Ei Strategic Ally Green Seal (GS) President & CEO Arthur Weissman visited Atlanta in February 2016, ATR hosted a luncheon to introduce the potential Ei | GS Atlanta Hospitality Program to industry leaders. City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability Senior Policy Advisor Boyd Leake and Tim (GWCC) joined the lunch. The Ei | GS program focuses on the GS foodservice and cleaning certifications.

City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability:
Continuing tradition, Ei facilitated an introductory lunch meeting in June 2015 for the ATR Team and in-coming City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability Stephanie Benfield. Several years earlier Ei orchestrated a similar introductory luncheon for then City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability Denise Quarles.

March 2017 lunch group photo
When the City of Atlanta was chosen as one of the 100 Resilient Cities pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, Stephanie was appointed to the Chief Resilience Officer position. 

On March 8, 2017 Ei orchestrated a powerful meeting of Atlanta's sustainability leadership hosted by ATR. The overt meeting purpose was to introduce new City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability John Rutherford Seydel to ATR. In addition to John and Boyd from the City of Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz Stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins and Ray C. Anderson Foundation Executive Director John Lanier joined the meeting. It was an inspiring lunch filled with empowering conversation and amazing cuisine.

Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meetings
Each December 2011 through 2014, trade association and non-profit executives from the entire sustainable food & beverage packaging value chain met in Washington D.C. for a day of vibrant dialogue and sharing.

F&B Value Chain Final Meeting
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
For the final three years, Global Green's D.C. office hosted the meeting. Ei oversaw meeting administration, moderated the meeting presentations and strategy session, and documented the powerful meeting dialogue in a ZWA Blog article.

Mission Accomplished: the original meeting intention was to harness industry synergies among the complementary organizations. During the 2014 presentation, it was empowering to witness the many joint pilots | programs among meeting participants. 

The ZWA Blog article, Sustainable F&B Packaging: moving from an emerging to a maturing industry, documents the final 2014 meeting.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS)
Ei connected with MBS General Manager Scott Jenkins upon his Spring 2014 arrival in Atlanta, three years prior to the stadium's summer 2017 opening. During his first months in Atlanta, Ei was instrumental in introducing Scott to Atlanta's sustainability community. 

More recently, Ei introduced Scott's team to a local food waste collection option for the stadium. In addition, Scott attended the previously mentioned ATR-hosted City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability luncheon.

2014 NZWBC Plenary Panel:
Scott during NZWBC panel Q&A
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
Within weeks of his arrival, Scott served on the above mentioned NZWBC The Atlanta Zero Waste Story opening plenary panel orchestrated by Holly. The plenary panel was Scott's first presentation as MBS GM!

Atlanta Ei Partner Tours:
In June 2014 Scott joined the Atlanta Ei Partner Tours for several local tours and dinner where he connected with industry colleagues. At the GWCC tour, Scott educated the Ei Partners on the MBS and explored avenues for collaboration.

Lambda Alpha International:
Scott with the Ei entourage
At Holly's invitation Scott gave an empowering Sustainability: an economic driver presentation at the February 15, 2017 Lambda Alpha International (LAI) Atlanta Chapter luncheon meeting. LAI is a land economic honorary; Holly was inducted in 2013 and serves on the local chapter Board.

It was inspiring to learn the intricacies of how "MBS will be the Heart of Atlanta and home to the biggest championships in the United States." Throughout his presentation, Scott emphasized the economics grounding the MBS sustainability commitment.

The IMPACT Blog article, Sustainability: an economic driver, is an overview of Scott's presentation, which is available for download on the Ei LAI page.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)
In 2012 EMF CEO Andrew Morlet connected with Ei within weeks of joining the powerful organization. During the Circular Economy 100 (CE100) formation, Ei was instrumental in industry education and introductions. With robust synergies, the Ei | EMF connection remains strong.

First Annual CE100 Summit:
Ei Chair Scott Seydel represented Ei at the June 2013 First Annual CE100 Summit hosted in London. Prior to the summit, Scott met with Andrew and Dame Ellen MacArthur and formed a longstanding bond. The IMPACT Blog, A Revolutionary Evolution - going from a linear to circular economy, introduces the Circular Economy along with a CE100 Summit overview.

In November 2015 Scott joined the the EMF USA Board in preparation for the U.S. Circular Economy Program February 2016 launch.

Atlanta Visit:
During a 2015 eight-hour Atlanta Airport layover, Andrew and Holly connected for their first in-person encounter. Ensuring a productive visit, Holly scheduled a meeting with then Delta Director, Safety, Health, Environment Helen Howes. 

A lovely dinner followed with the Georgia Tech Center for Sustainable Business Founding Managing Director Howard Connell and one his colleagues. Timing was perfect for the Andrew | Howard introduction as Georgia Tech was interested in the EMF Pioneer Universities Program.

Urban Biocycles:
In the early research phase for the scoping paper, Andrew requested Holly to assist Doug Walker, lead author and program manager, with education on the U.S. state of urban organic recycling. In addition to the education, Holly introduced Doug to Ei Strategic Ally Brenda Platt, Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) co-director, as an excellent resource via her Neighborhood Soils Rebuilding and community composting programs in-place.

Prior to publication, Holly reviewed the document draft and submitted content comments. 

On March 28, 2017 EMF issued the Urban Biocycles scoping paper. It is a well-researched paper on the current state of global organic recycling with a focus on the economic opportunities using a Circular Economy approach for urban organics. The Urban Biocycles scoping paper sets a solid foundation for further research and development of urban organic recycling | manufacturing systems within a Circular Economy.

Ei | Holly and ILSR | Brenda are listed in the paper credits as Expert Input and Case Study Contributors.

Connectivity and collaboration are keys for success, especially when forging industry frontiers. In 2012, Ei introduced the power of the WE Consciousness in the ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport:
The "I" focus is replaced with the "WE" focus. The impact of our actions extends to the entire community and beyond; collective action accomplishes more profound results than singular effort. By working together, synergies are unlocked, unnecessary boundaries, including competitive barriers, disintegrate, and creative energies catapult possibilities into grounded realities.
The Power of Connection is a valuable asset. Ei is honored to serve as the conduit between prominent industry friends and facilitate powerful introductions. When we work together, the possibilities are endless and solutions dissolve monumental barriers.