Search This Blog

Monday, May 30, 2011

Paper Pulp+ Water = Rod & Reel, Anna Maria Island, FL

Understanding paper pulp technology and acceptable contamination is integral to developing recycling systems based in integrity.  Chuck Klass, renown paper pulp technology expert, agreed to give Zero Waste Zones Director Holly Elmore her speed course 101 in paper pulp technology.  

The stakes were high as the agreed upon location years ago was the Rod & Reel Pier on Anna Mara Island, FL.  How fun for the a long-standing promise to materialize on a perfect late spring afternoon!

With the basics accomplished, the Gulf breeze and cold beer proved difficult for the course completion.  Future courses will most likely take place in Atlanta or during the summer FL heat where focus on paper recycling contamination remains the primary focus.

Thanks Chuck for your free spirit and agreeing to meet at a favorite FL watering hole.

An Atlanta Icon Resurfaces in Tampa

Dave @ Doubletree ribbon
cutting for the recycling compactor
Those following the Atlanta Zero Waste Zones journey know Dave Rossman, formerly the GM @ the Doubletree Buckhead, was instrumental in the early ZWZ success with his Champion role in ZWZ-Buckhead.  Late 2010 Dave was transferred to the Sheraton Suites Tampa Airport to the disappointment of the Atlanta Greenie communality.  The weeks following his transfer, Dave's departure was mourned.

YEA - Dave is now settled in Tampa with excellent community connections and ready to embark on bringing zero waste initiatives to the Tampa Bay area.  As a Sarasota High School Sailor, Holly Elmore was thrilled to meet with Dave and her Tampa connections while on a long weekend visiting family in SRQ.

Dave, Holly, Chris & Mitch
Over a lively two-hour plus lunch, Dave & Holly met with Chris Snow of Hillsborough County and Mitch Kessler of Kessler Consulting to understand the Tampa recycling and organics collection landscape.  Many fertile seeds were planted for future meetings and journeys.

Next Holly met with the HMS Host folks at the Tampa Airport to amazing enthusiasm.

With many action points in the works, our sister state to the south may be the first ZWZ expansion state.

But wait ...  a South Carolina Hospitality Association delegation is visiting Atlanta on June 08 to explore bringing ZWZ to Columbia, Charleston & Greenville, SC!

Which southern state will be the first ZWZ expansion state?  This summer is staged for excitement as the national expansion plan enters the pilot stage.  Stay tuned as the ZWZ ACTION elevates to another octave!

Farewell to a Friend, Colleague & Mentor

It is with great sadness that I write this blog post to say farewell to Marlin Gottschalk.  On Monday, May 23, 2011 Marlin said good-bye to this world after a valiant encounter with cancer.

A great friend to Elemental Impact | Zero Waste Zones and me personally, Marlin stood strong in his support of the ZWZ program as it evolved from the Green Foodservice Alliance to Elemental Impact.  It was Marlin's unwaivering support that gave me the courage to continue this important journey and I am eternally grateful to his spirit and guidance.  As Director of the Sustainability Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Marlin ensured Roy Edwards was available to attend meetings and provide necessary professional guidance.

Marlin presenting @ Nov 2011
Ei Sponsor, AC & Board Mtg
Marlin took his position on the Ei Advisory Council seriously by attending POWER - Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling - and Ei AC, Sponsor & Board meetings.  Just a month before his passing, Marlin sat next to me at the April 21 POWER meeting.  Even in pain, Marlin provided valuable insights and dialogue to the lively meeting.  This was my last time to see Marlin.

Marlin on right with a happy
group of Ei sponsors & advisors
When I think of Marlin I see him in full beard towering above me with his blue eyes sparkling with mischievous energy.  I also will always remember our update meetings every couple months.  Marlin understood me like no one else - I could update him with my logic and he understood.  Once I described my journey as living in creative chaos while bringing structure to ground the projects into this dimension - Marlin's sparkling eyes told me he understood and experienced the same types of journeys.

I rarely write blog posts in first person - this is a personal tribute to a friend, colleague and mentor I will miss tremendously.

While I will miss Marlin here in the physical, I know I have a loyal Angel assisting and guiding me on this incredible journey.  Thank you Marlin for sharing your spirit with me.  Thank you Marlin for continuing to be by my side.  I miss you and am honored you continue to inspire me.

ZWZ included in NRA Recycling Brochure!

Wow - how thrilling for the National Restaurant Association to include the Zero Waste Zones and Sustainable Food Court Initiative in their RECYCLING FOR ALL THE RIGHT RETURNS brochure!  In the brochure, nine tips are given for effective recycling in restaurants.  Here is tip #9:
TAKE ACTION BY JOINING A LOCAL RECYCLING INITIATIVE.  Sometimes the best way to enhance your recycling efforts is to join forces with other local businesses.  Atlanta's Zero Waste Zones ( and Sustainable Food Court Initiative programs are good examples of this.
Georgia Pacific teamed with the NRA on an impressive recycling survey of foodservice operators and consumers.  View the ZWZ Blog post, Recycling for all the Right Returns, for details on the survey and its announcement at the 2011 NRA Show.

To download the RECYCLING FOR ALL THE RIGHT RETURNS brochure visit this link on the NRA site.  Go to the top right hand section where the survey results, executive summary and brochure may be downloaded.  Here is the direct link for the brochure.

Thank you Chris Moyer, NRA Conserve Program Director, for including ZWZ | SFCI as examples of organizations to join.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Recycling For All The Right Returns

In recent research conducted in partnership by the National Restaurant Association and Georgia Pacific, the importance of recycling to the foodservice industry was validated.  Not only do the majority of operators embrace recycling practices, consumers are choosing to spend their dining dollars with restaurants that walk the talk.

Chris Moyer (NRA), John Mulcahy (GP)
& Clarice Turner (Starbucks)
According to Hudson Riehle, SVP of the Research & Knowledge Group for the NRA "Sustainability is more than a fad, it’s the new way of doing business in the restaurant industry.  Our research found that a majority of consumers prefer to patronize restaurants with recycling programs, and restaurants are following suit to ensure they meet their customers’ expectations.” 

Download the full report and view the impressive findings at the new RestaurantsRecycle site.  Here is a quick preview of the major finds:

  • 65% of restaurateurs have recycling programs in place
  • 60% of consumers prefer to patronize restaurants with recycling programs
  • 85% of consumers are willing to sort quickservice recyclables into bins
  • 51% of consumers are willing to pay a little more at restaurants that recycle
Chris Moyer
The research was unveiled at the 2011 NRA Show educational session A Cup Full of Sustainability.  Starbucks joined Georgia Pacific and NRA in the well-attended session to bring the operator perspective to the impressive research.  Click here to download the press release announcing the research findings. 

Stay tuned for collaborative work with Zero Waste Zones | NRA Conserve to educate and support on the importance of recycling to operations and profits.

Recycling Integrity @ IFSS - The Chris & Holly Show with an added Buzz!

The Chris & Holly Show debuted Recycling Integrity:  Truths, Myths & Emerging Technologies with an added Buzz at the International Foodservice Sustainability Symposium on May 24 at Kendall College.  With an engaged audience, Holly Elmore (Zero Waste Zones Director), Chris Moyer (NRA Conserve) and Buzz Chandler (Asean|StalkMarket) walked through the fallacies inherent in the current focus on diversion rates versus recycling rates.

Buzz, Chris & Holly
Photo Credit:  Doug Kunnemann
Buzz gave an excellent overview of the emerging technologies available to take recycling to the next dimensions.  Energy consumed in the collection and recycling process is another important component in creating new systems.  With varying end markets available, each community must assess the recycling scenario viable based on their parameters.

To view/download the session PPT presentation visit the Elemental Impact Speaking Engagements page.

Stay tuned for tales from the journey as ZWZ Participants assist in creating recycling collection systems that embrace maximum tonnage recycled versus the percentages diverted from the dumpster.

Compost, The Quiet Hero @ The 2011 NRA Show

At the 2011 National Restaurant Association Show Compost, The Quiet Hero made an encore performance with his session, Compost, The Quiet Hero Returns with THE HOW.  This year the Quiet Hero's spokesperson Holly Elmore, Zero Waste Zones Director, was joined by the Chris Triad to spread his important message to foodservice operators.

Chris Moyer
Holly lead the message with an overview of THE WHY organics collection for composting is critical to healthy, well-structured soil and plentiful, clean water.  Chris Moyer of the NRA Conserve Program Director presented on how the Conserve Solutions for Sustainability is the resource for education, training and support as the foodservice embraces organics collection.  Chris Newman with the U.S. EPA, Region V spoke on the government assistance available to the industry as standard operating practices include organics collection.  

The star of the session, Chris Koetke with Kendall College educated on the specifics of HOW organics collection works within foodservice operations.  A true pioneer, Kendall College is in their fifth year with an organics collection program.

Holly & The Chris Triad
Moyer, Newman, Koetke

Visit the Elemental Impact Speaking Engagements page where the PPT presentations for the session may be downloaded.

How exciting to witness the enthusiasm of foodservice operators to learn WHY and HOW to bring organics collection to their front and back-of-the-house operations!  Stay tuned for tales from the journey as organics collection becomes common place within the industry.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Is Plastic Really Kin to the Devil?!

Over the past years plastic has garnered quite the reputation, somewhat akin to the Devil in material form.  Is the bad rap justified or is plastic the scapegoat for irresponsible human behavior?
Spring, 2011 Issue

In the Spring Issue of Ode, For Intelligent Optimists, this very topic is explored in the article, Plastic Fantastic, by author Andrew Tolve.   The article focuses on companies with invested technologies that recycle used plastic back into product as pure as virgin plastic as well as plant-based bioplastics. 

According to Anthony Zolezzi, co-founder of Greenopolis and the GreenOps Recycling Systems "We should be celebrating plastic.  It's how we abuse it and don't re-use it that's a problem.  Plastic is an amazing ingredient that we should look at as precious material, no different than gold."
Michael Biddle
Is plastic really a valuable resource the equivalent of gold?   Mike Biddle, president and co-founder of MBA Polymers, seems to agree:  "Plastics are the last frontier in terms of major material categories to be re-used."  MBA Polymers has three factories globally (California, China & Austria) with a technology suite that spins plastic into MBA's version of gold.  The system separates, sterilizes, melts, pelletizes and remolds recovered plastics from shredded electronics, computers and cars into a product as pure as virgin plastic.  No other additives are required for further production.  ADDED VALUE:  The MBA Polymers process consumes only 5 to 10% of the energy required to produce virgin plastic.

Steve Davies
Not all plastics are petroleum based.  NatureWorks' Director of Marketing, Steve Davies explains the process of making their bioplastic resin Ingeo.  According to Steve, "Anything that can be made out of plastic, people are interested in making out of bioplastic."  NatureWorks uses the sugar in plants to make Ingeo which in turn is the basis for personal care, home, garden, electronics, appliances and fresh food packaging products.

Author Andrew Tolve concludes, "With the right combination of recycling, re-use and innovation, plastic could soon become a renewable source."  

Hmmmm.... is it time to stop the blame game?  From the article it sounds like responsible human behavior would keep plastic out of our oceans and back into an economically viable production cycle.

The Continuing Glass Dilemma

For the past two years the Zero Waste Zones Team has researched the best alternatives for used glass from foodservice operations.  Many challenges arose along the journey including separation by color, collection of separated glass, destinations for glass and low cost of producing new glass. 

Single-stream recycling was determined to NOT be an acceptable alternative.  Crushed glass in the separation process often ends up as shards and slivers contaminating both the paper and plastic recycling stream.  Expensive equipment repairs & maintenance caused by glass shards are common in single-stream sorting equipment.

Refer to the ZWZ Blog post, Single-Stream Controversy, for a synopsis on the Container Recycling Institute's December, 2009 white paper, Understanding economic and environmental impacts of single-stream collection systems.

In her article Glass Action (pgs 39 & 40) in The America's Quarterly, A Publication for the Foodservice &; Hospitality Industry, Janice Cha writes about how keeping glass out of the landfill takes effort and determination - but the move can pay off in lower waste collection fees.  

Heathman Lodge
In the article, Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, WA  developed a dual-stream system with separated glass that makes good business sense for their operations.  Thanks to Scott Gix's, Sustainability Director & Restaurant Manager, persistence and determination Waste Connections started a glass collection and recycling program.  Nearly two years into the program, Heathman Lodge is diverting 260,000 lbs of glass annually from the landfill, which results in an approximate $7,500 annual trash hauling savings.

Cullet - crushed glass
In another innovative program, Whitney & Michael Allen of Willoughby, OH, owners of  two area bars, purchased Glasshopper bottle crushers to reduce bar glass volume by 80% with reduced waste hauling fees to less than a quarter of pre-program billings.  Glasshoppers crush the glass on-site into cullett in a well-insulated, stainless steel  machine.  The Allens partner with a local  artisan who collects the cullet weekly to make unique, beautiful flooring material.

Thank you Janice for your inspiring article - it is pioneers like
Scott Gix and the Allens who are changing the landscape of options available for used glass from foodservice operations.

On another note, new avenues are opening in the glass recycling arena as this post is written.  Stay tuned for more tales from the journey and new glass recycling options.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recycling Integrity: Truths, Myths & Emerging Technologies

Join Holly Elmore, Zero Waste Zones Director, and Buzz Chandler, Biodegradable Products Institute Board Member and President of Asean Corp|Stalkmarket., for their Recycling Integrity:  Truths, Myths & Emerging Technologies session on Tuesday, May 24 4:30 p.m. at IFSS in Chicago at host Kendall College.

Here is the session description:

Buzz Chandler
Recycling Integrity:  Truths, Myths & Emerging Technologies:

The time is NOW to understand the final destination of recycling efforts and to fine tune the system as the corporate community embraces recycling as a standard operating practice.  Important fact:  Contaminated material ends up in the landfill, whether placed in a dumpster or a blue recycling bin.

Learn about common contaminants and how they vary based on operating scenarios.  Compostable packaging or recyclable material is another hot topic, especially with recent product developments, to address.  Discover which recyclable materials maintain higher value if separated and which materials co-mingle well.  Redesigning the disposal stream can be a cost-neutral to cost-savings endeavor.

With emerging technology changing the recycling landscape, these are exciting times to re-evaluate recycling programs to ensure integrity of the final destination.

These are thrilling times - stay tuned for updates along the journey to recycling integrity!