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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Single-Stream Recycling: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

On July 21 the U.S. EPA Sustainable Materials Management Web Academy presented the webinar, Single-Stream Recycling:  The Good, the Bad & the Ugly.  With the largest waste hauling companies embracing single-stream as their recycling option, the timing is impeccable to address the effectiveness of a system designed for ease of collection.

Three industry experts presented debate-style the pros and cons of single-stream recycling and offered tips on how to run an effective program.  Richard Gertman with Cascadia Consulting Group gave an excellent overview of the rationale in developing single-stream recycling system along with comparisons to duel stream.  

In his PPT presentation Best Practices in Single-Stream Recycling, which is available on the webinar page, Richard explains the importance of maintaining integrity in the recycling process and to not be misled by diversion rates.  Here are few on-target quotes from his PPT:
"Collection" is not the same as "Recycling."  There is no market for some collected items.
Recycling is making new products from recovered materials.
Glass:  Bottles are not the problem, broken glass is!  Glass is broken during processing
"It's Good Enough" is not good enough
It is inspiring to understand others are promoting the importance of Recycling Integrity.  See the ZWZ Blog post, Recycling Integrity @ IFSS, where Ei|ZWZ introduced the focus as integral to zero waste initiatives.

Richard's PPT is a wealth of information on recycling collection and processing and a recommended read for those ready to ensure integrity of their collected materials final destination.

Jennifer Grace of Strategic Materials PPT presentation Single-Stream Glass Contamination has some excellent photos of glass contamination as a result of single-stream collection and processing.  The final PPT presentation Comparison of Green House Gas Impacts by Jim Marcinko of Waste Management Recycle America seems to address the GHG impact from a linear viewpoint and does not address maintaining material value and the impact of contamination.

It is important for the corporate consumer to educate themselves on the integrity of their hauler's offered recycling program.  Consumer demand for collection systems that maximize material value and result in recycled products is essential to stop the mass implementation of single-stream recycling underway.

Kudos to the EPA for hosting the webinar!  Visit the SMM Web Academy page for the 2010 - 2011 Recycling and Solid Waste Management Educational Series.  Prior webinar PPT presentations are available and registration links for future webinars are on the page.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ei Consulting Launches!

Elemental Impact launches Ei Consulting!  Ei expertise is now available to corporations and communities via speaking engagements and consulting services.

Holly Elmore, ZWZ Director & Ei Founder, is a captivating and effective speaker who leaves an audience motivated to take ACTION.  Popular speaking topics include:

Holly @ ZWZ
Two-Year Press Conference
Visit the Ei Speaking Engagements Page to learn about Holly’s speaking experience and to review supporting PPT presentations.  The Testimonial Page documents strong support for Holly's communication style.

The above topics work well for industry conference sessions, solo or in panel format, corporate training or as a keynote for awards ceremonies. 

Holly Presenting to
Waste Management Directors
Consulting services are available to corporations and communities in a range of expertise areas including assessing and implementing zero waste practices, refining recycling systems, and developing collaborative team and action plans for communities.  

Ei is a working partner with the Institute for Local Self Reliance's Waste to Wealth Program and serves as the zero waste subcontractor for the ILSR's contract work with the Sustainability Division of the City of Atlanta.

For more information visit the Ei Consulting website page or contact Holly.

Friday, July 29, 2011 Honors Green within the Red

In the article, 6 green leaders in red states, author Shelley DuBois honors individuals who stepped forward in their respective "red" communities as leaders for green action.  A common thread through the six profiles is environmental stewardship is fast becoming the earmark of successful businesses and communities, no matter the political affiliation.

Holly Elmore
Zero Waste Zones Director Holly Elmore is #6 with her Trash to Cash profile.  The  profile emphasizes Elemental Impact's commitment to developing environmentally sound programs that make good business sense, for participants and the community as a whole.

Always the optimist, Holly is quoted "Once you plant the seed, the zero waste mentality becomes addictive.  You get people on board with you and it gets in their blood." ZWZ Participants prove Holly's statement accurate with their enthusiasm to further fine-tune their recycling practices and embark on other sustainable initiatives.  For examples peruse the ZWZ Blog for many tales from the zero waste journey.

Daniel Rickenmann, W2E Organic Power COO, is profile #3 in Hunter's orange is new green.  In his  profile, Daniel explains how many Southern active environmentalists are also hunters, fishermen and sportsmen, who understand respecting nature is integral to enjoying its bounty.

Hunter's orange is the new green
Daniel Rickenmann
W2E Organic Power holds one of the first, if not the first, anaerobic digester for food residual intake permits in the nation.  With groundbreaking scheduled for this fall, the Columbia, SC facility gives the city another option for food waste disposal generated by foodservice operations, industrial food production, retail grocery and consumers .  

The current food waste destination is landfill, where methane gas (a potent Green House Gas 20-25% more potent than carbon) is produced.  It takes ingenuity and courage to make the bold move of introducing new technology to the current waste disposal systems.

Daniel @ POWER
According to Daniel, businesses respond favorably to this kind of waste-reduction effort, regardless of political affiliation.  "It doesn't matter what side of the spectrum it is, everybody's moving that way," says Daniel.

A close friend of Elemental Impact, Daniel was the keynote speaker at the spring POWER -Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling - meeting.  Refer to the ZWZ Blog post, Spring POWER Meeting is Stellar, for the meeting details and the POWER 2011 Meeting Page to download Daniel's PPT presentation.

In the article, Shelley profiles four additional green leaders:
Thank you Shelley for taking the time to research, interview and write about the important green happenings and pioneers in the "red" states.  Hmmm.... were seeds for future articles planted?!.  Stay Tuned!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gimme 5 Recycling @ Whole Foods

Thanks to Preserve's innovative Gimme 5 recycling program the consumer has an option for recycling their #5 plastics.  Whole Foods is a program partner and most stores participate by providing the decorative, educational bins for customer use.

Gimme 5 container @
Whole Foods - Buckhead, ATL
When it is accepted by recycling systems, #5 plastic is generally included in a mixed plastic bale and sent overseas to unknown destinations.  By saving #5 plastic for programs like Gimme 5 the consumer can be assured the yogurt tubs, hummus containers and other items are used in a high value manner.  Note Starbuck's cold beverages cups are #5 plastic and perfect for the Gimme 5 bins.

The Gimme 5 website has concise, clear copy on what is and is not accepted.  Essentially, the requirements are: 1> #5 must be printed on the plastic 2> only rigid #5 is accepted, NOT film 3> plastic washed of food|beverage and labels removed.  For the NOT accepted items, the site gives easy to understand reasons for the exclusion.

Begun in 2009, Gimme 5 is a young program and Preserve is keeping its growth restricted to Whole Foods and several other retailers.  

Walking the talk in personal lives is essential to integrity within the Zero Waste Zones program.  Thanks to the Gimme 5 program there is an option for consumer #5 plastic to maintain its value in the recycling process.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Zero Waste @ 2012 Indy Super Bowl

The Indianapolis 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee is taking zero waste initiatives seriously as they plan for the big day along with the accompanying festivities.  With collaborative efforts in place  with the Host Committee, the Indiana Recycling Coalition, the Indiana Restaurant Association and Simon Property Group, solid material collection plans are underway.

An organics collection pilot is slated for the J.W. Marriott and Circle Centre, a downtown Simon mall, during the Super Bowl events.  

The National Restaurant Association | Elemental Impact | Zero Waste Zones Team met with the Indy Super Bowl folks to offer support and guidance on bringing zero waste initiatives late last month.  Demonstrating the NRA's strong sustainability commitment, Dawn Sweeney  (NRA CEO) included the meeting in her July 01 CEO Report.

Stay tuned as the NRA|Ei|ZWZ connects with more national events to provide zero waste initiative support.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ei Welcomes New Advisory Council Members

Elemental Impact welcomes two new Advisory Council Members:  Scott DeFifeSenior. Executive Vice President of Government & Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association, and Lynn Dyer, President of the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

With the Zero Waste Zones national expansion announcement planned by year end, Scott and Lynn's expertise and advice is invaluable in creating programs that make strong business sense for industry partners.

Scott DeFife
Scott DeFife
Scott provides tremendous Ei|ZWZ support through the NRA's partnership announced at the February ZWZ Two-Year Press Conference (see the blog post ZWZ Garners National Support for details).  With Chris Moyer, NRA Conserve Program Director, serving on the Ei|ZWZ Leadership Team and Co-Chair of the Sustainable Food Court Initiative, Scott is behind the scenes supporting Chris with advice, direction and enthusiasm for our important work.

Lynn Dyer
As an active Sustainable Food Court Initiative Team Member, Lynn shares her packaging expertise and connections as the Team creates systems to bring zero waste initiatives to food court operations.  Lynn's gift of practical approaches to complex scenarios is instrumental for action outcome during the project creation process.

Thank you Scott and Lynn for the honor of accepting the Ei Advisory Council positions.  Welcome!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Recycling Integrity Journey

Zero waste is more than diversion of material from the dumpster or compactor; zero waste is about the integrity of the material's final destination.  Many factors influence a material's destination: contamination at the collection point, commodity market prices, availability of manufacturing plants using recycled raw material, to name a few.  To further complicate matters, each community is unique requiring recycling systems customized for local infrastructure and logistics.

In her July 12, 2011 article, Are Your Recyclables Really Being Recycled?, Alison Lara sums up community diversity nicely:  ... each community has its own constellation of processing plants within reasonable trucking distance from its MRF (Material Recovery Facility) that limits what can be recycled and how – upcycled, downcycled, repurposed or reused, which further complicates ....

A holographic approach is essential to creating effective recycling programs, taking into play the energy, whether labor, transportation, water or electricity, required to recycle material.  Zero Waste Zones Director Holly Elmore is quoted in the article addressing the energy component,
 “There’s a point at which finding a higher end use is more expensive, more energy-intensive depending on what equipment is in place and what manufacturers are there.   
Glass, for example, could be recycled into new glass, or downcycled into asphalt for construction.
If you don’t have a glass recycling plant for 1,000 miles around you, end uses might be perfect for you,  Each market is different…what’s your infrastructure, what’s available to you?”
Plastic Film Ready for
Recycling @ Hilex Poly Plant
Photo Credit:  Holly Elmore
Staying positive and enthusiastic is imperative to motivating communities and industries to implement comprehensive recycling programs. Alison ends the article with another Holly quote,Keep it positive, keep it inspirational,. It’s important to phase things in in baby steps.” 

Kudos to Alison for taking the time to understand the current recycling scenario and explaining there is no one answer to developing recycling systems with destination integrity.  It is an exploration and journey with pioneers enthusiastic to create effective recycling pathways.  

Stay tuned for adventures from the journey!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

CCC: Clarity to Composting Confusion

The foodservice industry is ready, willing and confused about how to begin the journey of  organics collection for composting.  There are so many variables at play as the foodservice packaging industry offers new compostable lines in addition to their traditional products.

MeadWestvaco answers the call for clarity with a new website GreenToGo dedicated to helping foodservice operators make their businesses more sustainable.  GreenToGo shares resources about how commercial composting and compostable foodservice packaging can lend a hand in developing a more environmentally conscious business.

According to John Sanfacon, president, MWV Food Service. “MWV’s GreenToGo campaign is an ongoing effort to share our knowledge about how composting can work for foodservice operators who want to be on the forefront of change and green practices in the industry.”

GreenToGo encourages foodservice operators to explore composting as an option to reduce food waste and single-use foodservice packaging going to landfills. The site features educational resources, videos, a case study that shows composting in action, and information about how to start a composting program. MWV plans a full series of informative videos that will be introduced on the site during 2011.

Besides educating on what is compostable packaging, the videos emphasize understanding the amount of post-consumer material included in the packaging to ensure maximum environmental stewardship.  Note the most post-consumer material permitted via regulations and product effectiveness is between 30 and 35%.

For more specific information, Brenda Platt with the Institute for Local Self Reliance, authored an excellent Compostable Products FAQ document with simple answers to complex questions.  Sustainable Food Court Initiative Team Members from the Foodservice Packaging InstituteNatureWorks and MWV contributed with invaluable input and comments.  Note the document is evolutionary with frequent revisions anticipated to reflect industry growth and technical advances.

The Zero Waste Zones are working with MWV on creating the fourth video featuring a foodservice operator who has a successful organics collection operation in-place where the consumer is responsible for packaging disposal.  Over the past few years, organics collection programs for seated, full-service establishments were developed and protocol is now established.  Front-of-the-house collection in quick and fast-casual dining is in the toddler development stage with many challenges ready to be addressed.

The Sustainable Food Court Initiative will address organics collection program development in the pilot projects almost ready for announcement.  MWV joined the SFCI Team this spring and is stepping forth with active participation.

Thank you MWV for your commitment to educating the foodservice operator on the important role composting programs play in an organization's sustainability business model.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Getting a Handle on Plastic Film Recycling

See the FB album for names
How thrilling to witness the world's largest plastic bag manufacturer (Hilex Poly) meet with the nation's largest real estate company and mall owner (Simon Property Group) and the nation's largest waste and recycling hauler (Waste Management) to develop systems for recycling the tremendous amount of garment plastic film packaging received in retail stores. 

Hilex Poly owns the nation's only plant dedicated to post-consumer plastic bag recycling in North Vernon, IN and is on a mission to increase their recycling tonnage.  The plant is adjacent to the one of the world's largest volume plastic bag manufacturing plants - sounds like a zero carbon footprint on delivery of recycled plastic film pellets to the reproduction process!

plastic film beginning the
recycling process
In the ZWZ Blog post, Simon Property Group Embarks on Zero Waste Initiatives, the scenario of the major increase in garment plastic film packaging was addressed.  With each of the major players required to develop shopping center plastic film recycling at the table, fertile seeds were planted for an ACTION plan.

To view tour pictures, visit the Ei Facebook album, 07-01-11 Hilex Poly Tour in North Vernon, IN.

Stay tuned as an exciting journey is beginning!