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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Simon Property Group Embarks on Zero Waste Initiatives

Simon Property Group, the nation's largest real estate company in the U.S., is exploring how to bring zero waste initiatives to their 392 malls composing 263 million square feet of gross leasable area in North America, Europe and Asia.  Matt Hupp, Simon Director of Waste & Recycling, traveled to Atlanta for a day of phenomenal meetings dedicated to materials recycling, ranging from organics to film plastic to common recyclables (cardboard/paper, plastic (# 1 & 2), glass and metals).

Scott Seydel (Global Green Chair & Elemental Impact Advisory Council Chair) and Chris Moyer (National Restaurant Association Conserve Program Director) joined the meetings and underground loading dock tours.

Matt Hupp, John Mulcahy &
Chris Moyer @ lunch
The day began with Georgia Pacific and Harmon Recycling discussing overall recycling programs.  John Mulcahy (GA Pacific) and Tom Trudeau (Harmon Recycling) provided valuable insight on how recycling markets work and emphasized the role volume plays in direct sale to recycling companies.  Currently, most collected materials visit a MRF (materials recovery facility) for single-stream separation and aggregation of common material for bulk sale.  Significant volume is required to circumvent the MRF and transport material directly to its recycling destination.

Leif Lundaas, Matt Hupp &
Scott Seydel
After a fantastic lunch (thank you John!), the group segued into a meeting with Leif Lundaas (Global Enviro) to discuss an on-site organics solution system.  As the Global Enviro folks previously met with Simon and toured a NJ mall, the Atlanta encounter was a deal-making meeting.  Matt agreed to move forward with at least one pilot project using the Global Enviro system.

Scott in a "trashy
The final meeting of the hectic day included Louis Herrera (Hilex Poly) and Georgia State Senator Doug Stoner who accompanying Louis.  Hilex Poly,the world's largest plastic bag manufacturer, is committed to replacing virgin plastic with recycled product.  Mall operations by their nature produce an amazing amount of clean, single-use clean film plastic from back-of-the-house operations.

According to Matt, many Simon tenants significantly increased their plastic use over the past year.  In many instances, the clothing manufacturer does not know the garment destination, store or on-line shipment. Therefore, many manufacturers now package ALL garments individually in film plastic.  When received by the retail store, a clerk removes the garments from the plastic to display for sale; the tremendous volume of plastic film is currently landfill destined.

For Hilex Poly the packaging film plastic is valuable, clean material ready for bag production with minimal preparation.  The dilemma is aggregating enough of the plastic film to make economic sense for transport to a Hilex manufacturing facility.

Dewayne Hebert, Scott Seydel, Suan Stanton, Chris Moyer,
Doug Stoner, Louis Herrera & Matt Hupp
Susan Stanton (Tomra NA) stopped by to meet Matt and was present to educate on Tomra's easy-to-use and safe compactor that compacts plastic film into transportable bales.

Yet another action item from the day of meetings:  Hilex Poly and Tomra are teaming together to create a pilot project at one (or more!) of Simon's Atlanta malls to develop a plastic film recycling program that makes good business sense for all parties.

Wow - what a day full of education and action!  Thank you Matt for your vision and commitment to bring zero waste initiatives to the nation's largest mall owner & operator.  We also appreciate your sense of humor!

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