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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ei Announces the Sustainable Facilities Initiative

In 2009 the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) were launched as the nation's pioneer in the commercial collection of food waste for composting. Under the ZWZ program participants perfected the best practices for back-of-the-house prep waste collection and shared their lessons learned, challenges and successes with their industry colleagues.

The Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) was launched in 2011 to address the zero waste challenges associated food courts and post-consumer food waste. When the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ in late 2012, the SFCI emerged as Elemental Impact's central Recycling Refinement focus through 2016.

Industry Milestones
Compostable Packaging
In general, a successful front-of-the-house post-consumer food waste collection program requires the use of BPI Certified compostable food & beverage packaging or reusable service ware.

With impeccable timing, the SFCI - Atlanta Airport Pilot was in the midst of the concessionaire RFP for the entire airport when the SFI launched in 2011. The City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability and Department of Aviation team, led by Michael Cheyne, Director of Asset Management & Sustainability for the Airport, made the bold, courageous and successful move to include the following provision in the RFP and subsequent concessionaire contract:
“Concessionaire shall use compostable service ware along with consumer-facing packaging and source separate all food service wastes for direct transport to off-airport composting facilities.”
The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Makes Bold  Sustainable Statement, announces the compostable packaging contract provision. With Ei Strategic Ally Institute for Local Self-Reliance Co-Director Brenda Platt taking the lead, the SFCI Team crafted the Compostable Packaging Info Packet to educate concessionaires on the contract provision; the ZWA Blog article, Exemptions | Exclusions Added to Atlanta Airport Info Packetis an overview of updates for exempted | excluded items to the Info Packet. The document is available for download on the Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet website page.

In October 2011, the SFCI - Atlanta Airport received the Going Green Airport Award at the fourth Annual Going Green Airports Conference hosted in Chicago. The prestigious award recognized the value of the project, as well as outstanding leadership in pursuit of sustainability within the aviation industry.

Plastic Film Recycling
Around 2011 the garment industry shifted from bulk packaging for retail shipments to individual plastic film-wrapped garments; the packaging shift was a response to the explosion of internet sales. Shopping malls witnessed a dramatic increase in tenant plastic film waste, increasing their waste-hauling charges.

SFCI Team with first
plastic film bales at Concord Mills
Yet plastic film is a valuable commodity with recycling rebates often matching or exceeding OCC (old corrugated cardboard). Large commercial generators source-separate plastic film and sell the standard-sized bales weighing 700 - 1000 pounds in the commodities market. Thus, plastic film is a strong contributor to their recycling profit centers.

In 2012 SFCI - Concord Mills (CM), a Simon mall in Charlotte, NC, crafted the nation's first shopping mall plastic film recycling program. The SFCI Team, including Mecklenburg County Government, worked closely with CM General Manager Roy Soporowski on developing the successful program. The ZWA Blog post, ACTION: Theme for SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, announces the mall's plastic film recycling program.

Shortly thereafter, SouthPark Mall, a sister Simon mall in Charlotte, replicated the CM plastic film recycling template, modified for their mall logistics.

The Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls prepared by Ei on behalf of the Wrap Recycling Action Program, an American Chemistry Council Plastic Film Recycling Group program, was officially released at the 2016 Annual Ei Partner Meeting. The ZWA Blog article, Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls, announces the case study release along with an overview of the plastic film recycling program development.

For additional SFCI history and accomplishments, visit the SFCI - Accomplished website page.

Shifting Gears
In 2017 Ei shifted gears within humanity's environmental impact spiral. Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and food waste collection for compost to Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life.

KSU Hickory Grove Farm
regenerative ag in action
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, stormwater management, and production of nutritious food. In addition, Ei addresses the microplastic pollution within the soils, similar to the plastic smog prolific in the oceans. The inaugural Soil Health focus areas are:

In addition, the Water Use | Toxicity platform plays a strong supporting role.

Simultaneous with the Soil Health platform announcement, Ei work related to Recycling Refinement, including zero waste, food waste, plastic film recycling and other materials-oriented areas, was moved to the Ei Mission Accomplished! website section. Recycling Refinement expertise is available via Ei Founder Holly Elmore's private consulting practice at

Sustainable Facilities Initiative 
In alignment with the new Ei focus, the SFCI evolved into the Sustainable Facilities Initiative (SFI). Georgia World Center Authority Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joined the Ei Leadership Team as the SFI Chair. The ZWA Blog article, Changing of the Guard: Welcome Tim Trefzer to the Ei Leadership Team, announces Past SFCI Chairs Doug Kunnemann and Scott Seydel passing the leadership baton to Tim.

SFI Chair Tim Trefzer @
KSU Hickory Grove Farm
Meetings are in process with the SFCI Pilot executives to discuss the segue to a SFI Pilot. In addition, Tim & Holly are meeting with new potential pilots

The SFI Pilots represent facilities within various industry segments. SFI Pilots agree to the following parameters:
  • Pioneer - pilots serve as industry pioneers and assess each SFI platform for implementation within their operations. 
  • Industry Leader - once best practices are established within a platform, the pilot managers share with their industry colleagues.
  • Strategist - pilot managers work closely with the SFI Team to strategize on expanding platform impact and/or developing new platforms.
The SFI Pilot focus areas align with the overall Ei Platforms:

Soil Health:
Within Soil Health, pilots address the following focus areas:
  • Regenerative landscape practices
  • Water infiltration rates
  • Native vegetation
  • Pollinator habitat gardens or other support for pollinators
  • Food waste compost from foodservice operations used within grounds maintenance
  • On-site urban agriculture or partner with a hyper-local farm for food used in campus foodservice operations

Water Use | Toxicity:
Within Water Use | Toxicity, pilots address the following focus areas:
Utilizing the strong SFCI foundation, the Sustainable Facilities Initiative is staged for tremendous impact within the Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity platforms and beyond. Stay tuned!

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