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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Down to Earth Biofuel Facility Tour

Jimmy Chancellor, Chris Moyer,
McKay Johsnon
 In the quest to understand the final destination of disposed products, the Zero Waste Zones Team toured Down to Earth's biofuel production facility in Monroe, GA.  Located in the rolling hills of rural Georgia, Down to Earth is prepared to serve as an educational facility for the industry.  The production facility was built without walls for ease in demonstrating the process of converting spent grease into biofuel.
Ingredients & End Product

Clean and efficient, Down to Earth runs an impressive operation, complete with an adjacent lab where associates work on Phase II (of III) of an EPA grant to develop more efficient systems for biofuel production.

Solar Panels
Walking their talk, the plant is run entirely on solar thermal produced electricity in the summer.  Once the photo voltaic system is installed by early summer, Down to Earth will be completely off the grid with their biofuel production facility.

Although not advertised, farmers, truckers and individuals may purchase biofuel at Down to Earth. Currently, an average of 2 - 3 customers each day purchase fuel.

Down to Earth works closely with Clean Energy Biofuels, a program under the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, who delivers the spent grease collected from the metro Atlanta foodservice operators, many ZWZ Participants

At the tour, Chris Moyer of the National Restaurant Association's Conserve Program, discussed simple operating procedures kitchen staff may follow to lessen the contaminants in their collected grease.  Stay tuned for recommendations from the ZWZ team on how foodservice operators may assist in providing a clean, higher value product.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quest to Understand Single-Stream Recycling Final Destination

Chris, Frank, Holly & Steve
The Zero Waste Zone Team continues the quest to understand the final destination of commercial recycling efforts.  Frank Killoran and Bonny Moore of Pratt Industries took time out of their busy schedules to take Holly Elmore, ZWZ Director, Chris Moyer, National Restaurant Association Conserve Program, and Steve Simon, Fifth Group Restaurants & ZWZ-Midtown Champion, on a detailed tour of their East Point Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

Contamination @ the MRF
Along with the tour, Frank and Bonny educated on how the foodservice industry may take responsibility at the source to separate recyclables to retain their maximum reproduction value.  It was amazing to witness the contaminated material delivered to the MRF as "recyclables" that ends up in the landfill.

The ZWZ Team left with ideas on how to start cleaning up the stream in their operations and are exploring several pilot projects.  Stay tuned to learn how the commercial sector may adopt new practices that bring integrity to recycling efforts and make good business sense.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The By-Products of Mass Food Production

Roy, Pat, Tom & Jason
Feeding the masses of modern society results in a tremendous amount of by-products, ranging from spent cooking oil from fryers to out-of-date meat, poultry & dairy products to inedible animal parts from the production process. What happens to these bi-products and what is their end use?  

The ZWZ Team embarks on the journey to understand the integrity, or lack thereof, in the current practices of handling those products the masses prefer not to acknowledge.  Although at times not pretty, integrity requires current industry practices relating to these bi-products are addressed.

Roy Edwards with the Sustainability Division of the GA Department of Natural Resources and Holly Elmore, Zero Waste Zones Director, visited the Griffin Industries facility in Ellenwood for an educational tour of their rendering plant and grease processing facility.

Jason, Holly & Pat
Jason Cain, GM, and Pat Collins, Assistant GM, were patient and gave an excellent introduction to why companies like Griffin Industries are a necessity of the food industry. It was impressive to walk through a plant that renders inedible processed animal body organs and parts with no nauseating stench. The cleaning discipline inherent in Griffin's operations was amazing.

An intriguing visual was the tanker truck used to transport animal blood to the rendering plant - this was not a tour for those with a queasy stomach!

At another juncture the destination of the rendered meat and inedible animal parts will be addressed.

Currently. the spent grease collected by Griffin from metro Atlanta foodservice operators is cleaned at the Ellenwood facility and shipped to one of their plants for biofuel production. The efficiency of their operation was inherent in the systems explained by Jason & Pat.

Thank you to Tom Gabriel, Griffin Industries Sales, for coordinating the tour and your perseverance to educate on the integrity of Griffin Industries operating practices.

Stay tuned as the story unfolds ...


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ei | ZWZ Make it Easy for the Press

The media is enthusiastic about Elemental Impact's initiatives, especially the Zero Waste Zones!  To make it easy for the press to access pertinent information 24/7, the Ei Team created the Press Info page.

On the page, press releases, past media, quotes, milestones and Ei|ZWZ Leadership profiles are organized in simple to navigate and download format.

With major announcements planned for the early summer, Ei|ZWZ is preparing for the anticipated media inquiries.

Stay tuned as blog posts will feature prominent articles, stories and other media outlets.

Stellar POWER Meeting

Plan to attend the Thursday, April 21 POWER - Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Waste Recycling - meeting in Atlanta.  The spring meeting's agenda is stellar with two featured speakers.

Daniel Rickenmann, W2E COO, will speak to the Challenges on the Road to Success for an Anaerobic Digester (AD) Permit.  W2E holds one of the first, if not the first, AD permits for food residuals in the nation. A to be announced national expert on Biochar will educate on how the ancient practice works with modern technology.  Additional agenda items include project updates and announcements.

POWER meetings are known for lively dialogue and exploration as we travel down the path to discovering the highest good end-use for perishable organics, based on a community's economic parameters.  To learn more about POWER and read past PPT  presentations visit the Elemental Impact POWER page.

Click here  for registration where the complete agenda may be downloaded.  Register NOW for the meeting as space is limited.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ei | ZWZ Hiring Program Assistant

With the National Restaurant Association''s announcement of their Ei | ZWZ collaboration (read ZWZ Blog post, ZWZ Garners National Support for details), Elemental Impact is ready to take projects and initiatives into the next ACTION stage.  A part-time program assistant position is open that has strong potential to develop into a full-time position with incredible career opportunities.

Click here for the Ei Program Assistant profile.  The goal is for the position to be filled with a dynamic individual by early April.

Please spread the word so the perfect person learns about the opportunity.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

ZWZ Kicks the Can!

Audubon Magazine features Atlanta's Zero Waste Zone program in their March/April issue article Kick the Can.  The article ties in the importance of organics collection destined for composting operations to the soil.  Holly Elmore, ZWZ Director, says "Our soil is in dire straits. That waste is actually an asset that can be used to rejuvenate our soil and our water supply.”

Many of the founding ZWZ Participants are recognized by name for their important contributions to creating a program that cities around the country are abuzz about bringing to their community.

Contamination is addressed by the example of twist ties getting into the compost used in fields for grazing livestock.  Dr. Patricia Millner, a renown scientist with U.S. Department of Agriculture, educated POWER - Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling - attendees at a 2009 meeting about hardware disease, an accumulation of metals in the grazing animal's stomach resulting in death.

The power of the media is critical to spreading the message of organics collection for composting and other diversion of assets from landfills.  It is essential for publications outside of the recycling and waste industries to educate the consumer, both corporate and individual, on the necessary shift in consciousness regarding our nation's disposal methods.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fifth Group Under-Covered

La Tavola @ Dusk
VirginiaHighland-DruidHills Patch reporter Erin Levin under-covers Fifth Group Restaurants' contribution, or better said lack of contribution, to the neighborhood community.  With El Taco and La Tavola, in the patch area Erin gives residents an overview of the Fifth Group Restaurant's commitment to zero waste initiatives in her article, Waste Free, Fifth Group Restaurants have gone green.

El Taco
Steve Simon, Zero Waste Zone - Midtown Champion, Elemental Impact Board member and Fifth Group Partner, is the pioneer and stellar force paving the pathway for Atlanta's foodservice operators to embrace recycling and organics collection for composting.  Under Steve's guidance, 7,000 to 9,000 pounds of organics are composted each month and that same amount of papers, plastics and glass is recycled and reused rather than sent to the landfill. 

Steve Simon
Here is an amazing quote from Steve:  “We contribute less trash in a week than a typical household of four even though we feed two to three thousand people."

Thank you Erin for featuring eco-hero Steve Simon and Fifth Group Restaurants in your patch article.  It is important to recognize the businesses who are willing to take the time and energy necessary to NOT contribute to metro Atlanta's landfills.

On another note,  Erin was the CNN producer for the 2009 CNN ZWZ story that received over 130,000 views on  Erin is now a free-lance journalist, African philanthropist and eco-friend of humanity.   

Sunday, March 6, 2011

WM Expands in ATL

In her Atlanta Business Chronicle article, Waste Management Expanding in Atlanta, Maria Saporta  writes about WM's Southern Atlantic consolidated office and call center.  In addition to a stronger customer service approach, the expansion includes creating metro Atlanta employment opportunities with the nation's largest waste and recycling company.

With their slogan "Think Green", WM CEO David Steiner is guiding the company through a metamorphosis from landfill investment to recycling plants and recovery facilities investment.  At the end of the article, Saporta uses WM's relationship with Zero Waste Zones as an example of their commitment in action.

In early February WM announced a strategic joint development agreement with Genomatica  to research and advance Genomatica‟s technology and manufacturing processes to enable production of intermediate and basic chemicals from syngas made from municipal solid waste. Click here to download the news release from WM's press room.

With the metamorphosis in the inaugural stages, the fun is just beginning as WM takes the reins to guide and create industries based on environmental and economic sound principles.  

NRA Communicates Ei|ZWZ Collaboration

The National Restaurant Association public relations team is utilizing their media vehicles to communicate the new collaboration with Elemental Impact and the Zero Waste Zones.  The February NRA Washington Report includes a great article on page four along with a nice picture of the February 23 press conference presenters.  On the day of the press conference, Linda Bushe wrote an informative post on the NRA blog, NRA to work with Zero Waste Zones to reduce organic waste.

In their February Imperatives, a monthly update to state restaurant association executive and board members, the following mention is included:

Zero Waste Zone collaboration -- The NRA unveiled a new collaboration with Atlanta's Zero Waste Zone, a model program to help restaurants manage and divert perishable organic waste.

Rumor has it an article in Nation's Restaurant News, a weekly industry publication, is scheduled near the end of the month.

ZWZ Press Conference Presenters
Visit the February blog post, ZWZ Garners National Support, for details on the February 23 ZWZ Two-Year Anniversary press conference where the NRA relationship was announced.

Thank you to Sue Hensley, Linda Bushe, Annika Stensson and other members of the NRA pr team for your efforts in communicating the new NRA|Ei|ZWZ relationship to the foodservice industry and beyond.  It is an honor and pleasure to work with such professional and nice individuals.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Where Oh Where Does Our Recycling Go?.

Roy Edwards, Jimmy Chancellor,
Ford Chambers, Chris Moyer,
Steve Simon & Holly Elmore
With the Sustainable Food Court Initiative ready to move into ACTION mode with several soon to be announced Atlanta pilot projects, understanding the final destination of single-stream commercial recycling efforts is integral to the projects.  SP Recycling hosted the SFCI Team, along with several ZWZ Champions, for an afternoon of education and understanding of MRF (material recovery facilities) operations.

Chris & Roy
SP Recycling is a wholly owned subsidiary of SP Newsprint, which operates one of their two U.S. mills in Dublin, GA.  The main operating premise for the MRF is to provide "raw material" to the Dublin mill in the form of recovered newspaper.  Atlanta is fortunate to have the end-use mill just outside of the metro area and SP's MRF a few miles south of I-285.  With SP Recycling and SP Newsprint, Atlanta's recycling can keep a low carbon footprint on the transportation to the final destination for recycled newsprint.

David Wilson educating on glass
Yikes, glass is the demon of single-stream recycling!  One of the afternoon take-a-aways was the importance of source segregating at the consumption point.  Second to labor, glass disposal is the largest expense at the SP Recycling facility.  Now the challenge is finding an economically viable end use to keep glass from landfill destination.

Steve & Holly
SP Recycling is the destination for many of Atlanta's recycling haulers, including Waste Management.  According to Fred Johnson, Corporate Director of Operations @ SP Recycling, 85% of the single-stream recycling delivered to their Forest Park facility is residential, or curbside in recycling language.  Hmmm .... it makes one wonder what percentage of corporate Atlanta has active recycling programs.

Here is some info on SP Newsprint:  SP Newsprint is a privately held American business owned by three large North American media companies: Cox Enterprises, Knight-Ridder and Media General. The company produces high-quality newsprint from recycled fiber. 

When it opened in 1979, the company's mill in Dublin, Georgia was the first in the southern United States to produce high-quality newsprint from 100 percent recycled fiber. At the time, many people in the industry doubted that this could even be accomplished.

Today the Dublin mill has not only survived but is setting records. 

Stay tuned as SFCI and ZWZ continue to explore the final destination of recycling efforts and how creating a cleaner stream at the source will impact the overall reuse/repurpose rates.