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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ZWZ Participants Do More than Avoid Landfills

Zero Waste Zones Participants are astute business professionals whose sustainable operating practices make solid business sense and extend well beyond zero waste initiatives.  It is inspiring to hear the tales from their journey of creating new operating standards for the corporate community.

Here are a few examples of ZWZ Participant endeavors:

Chef Ahmad at the Affairs to
Remember Herb Garden
Chef's Gardens - A common theme on the SC Hospitality Association ZWZ Tour was chef gardens at the foodservice establishments.  See the ZWZ Blog posts, ATL ZWZ Team Hosts SC Hospitality Tour, for details on the tour and Chef Gardens:~ A Tasty Way to Close the Loop for a 2010 blog post about chef gardens.  Note the Chef Gardens post was the catalyst for the reporter's pitch on Chef Micah Willix's CNN story - see Yippee - Chef Micah at Ecco is World Famous! for the post on the story.

Local Food - Most participants are passionate about using the highest quality ingredients,  grown locally if feasible.  ZWZ Participant FreshPoint, one of the nation's largest produce distributors with an Atlanta regional distribution center, began its local farm focus in 2008.  For many participants their corporate policy does not permit purchasing directly from local farmers, mainly for insurance and food safety concerns.

For large purchasers, like Georgia Tech, it is important for the produce company to address  the common challenges of consistency and available quantity associated with local purchasing. By working directly with the farmers, FreshPoint is able to mitigate these challenges.  Earlier this year, FreshPoint introduced Eat Southeast Fresh with a Meet the Farmers website to acquaint their customers with the farmers.  There is also a hard copy version available.

Parsley's Solar Panels
Solar Power - In July, 2008 Parsley's Catering installed solar panels at their Kennesaw event facility.   The solar panels are a 1.3 KW system and provides about 8% of  the facility's energy consumption.  As an early pioneer, Parsley's owner Marc Sommers was an active Green Foodservice Alliance member when the ZWZ program was in its infancy. In April 2011, Parsley's received the Two-Star Award from the Green Restaurant Association program.

Sheraton's EV
Charging Station
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations - The Sheraton Hotel Downtown Atlanta is the first Atlanta hotel to offer electric vehicle charging stations complimentary in their parking garage.  Read the IMPACT Blog post, Sheraton POWERS New Energy & Identity, for details on the Sheraton's green commitment in front-of-the-house operations and behind the scenes.

Recycling Beyond the Common - While hosting Microsoft's TechEd Conference (10,200 attendees) earlier this year, The Georgia World Congress Center made the extra effort to secure donation of leftover conference supplies to local organizations. A total of 1,000 backpacks, 600 t-shirts, 60 polo-style shirts, 1,000 pens/pencils, 500 notebooks, 800 water bottles and 2,000 lanyards were distributed from the event to local schools and charities.   Read the ZWZ Blog post, GWCC Hits Recycling Strides, for an impressive summary of their sustainable practices.

Green at the Core - From Radial Cafe's tagline, small carbon footprint | big local flavor, it is clear sustainability is at the foundation of their business model.  When he opened Radial Cafe in 1999, founder Phil Palmer was a forerunner in the local and sustainable movement and set the standard for Atlanta to follow.  Under Phil's reign Radial was the first Atlanta restaurant certified under the Green Restaurant Association program.  With the baton passed to Frank Bragg, Radial continues the march to its green tune and was awarded a coveted three-star Green Restaurant Association award this spring.

Some of Radial's other operational changes under Frank's direction include replacing its dishwasher with an Eco-Star rated, low-flow dish machine that uses environmentally-friendly chemicals and switching to BPA-free printer paper and other products. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. “We don’t use plastics in our restaurant, and recent findings have confirmed that was a smart move for many reasons,” added Frank. “The National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services says it has some concern about the possible health effects of BPA on fetuses, infants and children, and that’s not risk we are willing to take.

It is an honor to work with these dedicated professionals. Stay tuned for more tales from the adventure to the new business paradigm! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kudos to Atlanta

Midtown, City of Atlanta
Home of ZWZ-Midtown
In a recent mattermore blog post, Atlanta Gets Kudas as a Zero Waste City, author Sebrina Zerkus Smith cheers Atlanta for creating the Zero Waste Zones in 2009 and ties ZWZ to Mayor Reed's goal of making Atlanta a top ten sustainability city by 2020.

With many of her facts from the 2009 ZWZ launch press information, the blog post signifies the important role ZWZ plays in Atlanta's perceived green image and actual sustainability rankings.  With the ZWZ regional expansion plans underway (see ZWZ Blog post, ATL ZWZ Team hosts SC Hospitality Tour), the ZWZ Team is preparing for a major November national announcement in partnership with the National Restaurant Association.

In February, 2011 the NRA announced their collaboration with Ei|ZWZ at the ZWZ Two-Year Anniversary Press Conference (see the ZWZ Blog post, ZWZ Garners National Support).  Working closely with Chris Moyer, NRA Conserve Program Manager, the ZWZ program is in the evolution process to a NRA program in partnership with Elemental Impact.  The November announcement is an opportunity for Atlanta to blaze her shining sustainability star as the ZWZ birth place.

With sustainability a major component to business decisions for corporate headquarter, convention and major sporting & entertainment event locations, the ZWZ program sends an impressive message supported by solid metrics to the business community and the media.  ZWZ cities will have a competitive edge in decision making processes that impact its economic vitality.

Kudos to Atlanta for coming forth with a pioneering spirit in sustainability!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Life in the RE-World, a 20 Year Celebration

The Georgia Recycling Coalition celebrated their 20th Anniversary Conference at the King & Prince on St. Simon's Island with a stellar program.  Life in the RE-World - REuse, REclaim, REcover, REduce, REthink, RECYCLE - was the theme at the well attended conference.
Kimberly Reeves & Gloria
Hardegree @ registration

GRC Executive Director Gloria Hardegree knows how to orchestrate a fantastic conference, from creating an excellent educational program, to attracting national corporate leaders as keynote speakers and plenary session panelists to choosing a beach front conference site.  With the "Parade of Presidents" scheduled for the closing GRC Annual Membership Meeting, many of the organization's early supporters were in attendance and told some great stories.

Jim Hanna 
Jim Hanna, Starbuck's Director of Environmental Impact & Global Responsibility, gave a fantastic  morning keynote presentation about Starbuck's environmental stewardship, including an update on their ongoing research for disposal options of their famous cup.  With a wide range of pertinent topics, attendees were educated on local and national programs in various stages of execution.  For the conference agenda along with supporting PPT presentations, visit the GRC Conference page.

For a pictorial recap of the conference visit the Elemental Impact FB album, 08-22 GRC Conference.

In addition to industry education, the GRC Conference is an excellent networking opportunity where long-time friends REconnect and new bonds are formed.  The camaraderie and genuine friendships among attendees is inspiring and instigates new adventures in the RE-World.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

ATL Zero Waste Team Hosts SC Hospitality Tour

The South Carolina Hospitality Association (SCHA) brought a contingent of Board members, business association executives and City of Columbia staff and councilman to Atlanta on August 16 & 17 for a Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) tour.  With W2E Organic Power ready to break ground on an anaerobic digestion facility in Columbia, the city will have an organics destination site by mid 2012. 

Tom Sponseller & Douglas
OFlaherty @ the Hyatt's glass recycling
Tom Sponseller and Douglas OFlaherty of the SCHA worked with Daniel Rickenmann, City of Columbia Councilman and W2E Organic Power COO, on bringing together the powerful SC group:  Rick Patel (Sheraton Columbia Downtown Hotel Owner & SCHA Hotel Division President), Scott Fister (Kiawah Island Golf Resort Resort Sustainability Coordinator), Mary Pat Baldauf (City of Columbia Sustainability Facilitator), and Merritt McHaffie (Five Points Columbia Association Executive Director).

From Atlanta, Roy Edwards with the Sustainability Division of the GA DNR joined the ZWZ Team - Holly Elmore (Director) and Susan Montgomery (Program Director - and Kelly Hornbuckle (GRA Marketing & Communications Director) to augment the presentations and tours. Sue Hensley, National Restaurant Association Sr VP Public Affairs, came from Washington D.C. to educate on the NRA Conserve program and support the ZWZ expansion to South Carolina.

Thank you to the Sheraton Downtown Atlanta, ZWZ-Downtown Atlanta Charter Participant, for serving as the tour host hotel.

Beginning at the Georgia Restaurant Association offices, Karen Bremer (GRA Executive Director) welcomed the group and Holly gave a ZWZ history|overview including the necessary community assessments to create a ZWZ.  To download the PPT presentation, go to the Elemental Impact Speaking Engagements page.  With lively discussion, the overview set the stage for intriguing dialogue during the tours.

Jimmy Chancellor explaining
how the organics bin works
Jimmy Chancellor and Wes Shirley of the Hyatt Regency gave an impressive tour demonstrating the Hyatt's core sustainability commitment.  Recently the Hyatt issued an internal corporate call for all properties to include organics collection for composting or other permitted use in the next several years.  Stay tuned for blog posts about the Hyatt Regency's creative, effective and cost-saving projects further reducing landfill destined material and energy consumption.

The first day ended with a tour and dinner at Ecco with Steve Simon (fifth group restaurants partner) and Executive Chef Micah Willix sharing their experiences.  In addition to zero waste practices, Steve and Micah discussed their water-saving practices, the roof top chef's garden and varying logistical challenges faced at their different restaurants.

Dinner was an excellent time to relax, enjoy the phenomenal food  and bond with ample wine.  Nancy & Mark Oswald, 2010 GRACE Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients, joined the Ecco tour and dining festivities.  Hmmm .... we hear a Charleston Ruth's Chris may be in the works!

The group @ The Buckhead Diner
On Wednesday Paul Baldasaro (Buckhead Life Group COO)  was joined by Maureen Baker (Buckhead Diner GM) and Executive Chef Charlie Schwab for an impressive Buckhead Diner tour and educational session.  Chef Schwab emphasized the common theme:  employees LOVE embracing zero waste practices and at times ask to move faster than management.  Paul gave advice on contract negotiations and spoke about how meeting ZWZ Criteria makes solid business sense.

Jon Johnston and Mary Beth Van Pelt with U.S. EPA, Region IV joined the group for the Wednesday tours and finale lunch. It was inspiring to hear Jon's commitment to assist the SC folks with bringing ZWZ to their state.

The tour ended at Affairs to Remember where Patrick Cuccaro (ATR GM & GRA Vice-Chair) and Executive Chef Ahmad Nourzad expressed the importance of signage and employee education for success as part of their tour. Chef Ahmad explained how ATR incorporated organics collection in their off-premise events.

ATR Compostable Boxed Lunch
As the first ZWZ-Caterers Participant, ATR enjoys significant revenue generation due to their sustainability commitment. Patrick gave the details of how their completely compostable boxed lunch won a catering bid with a price tag much higher than a competitor's price. Next the group was treated to one of these boxed lunches where EVERYTHING is compostable AND delicious!

Lunch discussion was full of action points for the next several weeks. With excellent timing, Holly travels to Columbia September 13 to speak at the City of Columbia's Green is Good for Business conference. The following day is filled with meetings and presentations to further set the stage for the first ZWZ expansion city. Stay tuned as the exciting tale is in its infancy.

For a pictorial recap of the SCHA ATL ZWZ tour, see the Ei FB album, 08-11 SCHA ATL ZWZ Tour.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ei|NRA's Meeting Marathon

The week of August 08 Scott Seydel, Elemental Impact's Advisory Council Chair and Global Green Chair, and Holly Elmore, Zero Waste Zones Director and Elemental Impact Founder, traveled to Washington D.C. for a multiple-day meeting marathon.  Chris Moyer, National Restaurant Association Conserve Program Manager, joined most of the meetings and offered the NRA offices as home base.

After a late afternoon arrival, dinner Monday evening was with Zach Pogue and Glenn Schatz of ECoRe Ventures to discuss the POWER - Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling -Website under construction.  

Dr. Bob Peoples, Holly & Scott
The following morning started with breakfast at The Mayflower with Dr. Bob Peoples, Director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute (ACS = American Chemistry Society).  With toxic-free environments on Ei's horizon, it was powerful to find an ally who is working on solutions at a molecular level for cleaning, paints, pest control and other generators of toxins in the workplace.

Scott, Chris, Lynn Dyer & Clark Seydel
Lynn Dyer, Foodservice Packaging Institute President, recently joined the Ei Advisory Council (see the IMPACT Blog post, Ei Welcomes New Advisory Council Members, for details).  The D.C. meeting was an opportunity to strategize on how our organizations may use the mutual synergy to maximize impact.  

Chris, Clark, Frank Hurst,
 Bob Tonetti and \Scott
Lunch with Frank Hurst, John Roderique and  Bob Tonetti of UNICOR was powerful and fun!  UNICOR is a division of the Federal Prison Industries that seeks to employ and provide job skills training to the greatest practicable number of inmates confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  With his 32 year U.S. EPA background, Bob (UNICOR's Recycling Business Group General Manager) is taking UNICOR's recycling programs to new levels.  Ei is working with UNICOR on their exploration of expanding recycling systems beyond the current electronic recycling offered.

Holly, Scott, Linda Dunn and
Chris Moyer
HMSHost, an Ei Sponsor (see the IMPACT Blog July post, Ei Welcomes New Sponsors) and Sustainable Food Court Initiative Team Member, is instrumental in creating zero waste solutions for concession and quick service restaurant operations. The HMSHost corporate sustainability commitment directed by  Linda Dunn, VP Supply Chain & Analysis, is incredible.  Linda spent several hours educating on current HMSHost airport operations and exploring pilot projects to move closer to the zero waste goal.  Stay tuned for future posts on Tampa and Charlotte developments.

Scott, Linda Chipperfield and
Chris Moyer
Certifying products that meet the highest environmental standards and performance since 1989, Green Seal is a pioneer in educating consumers, personal and corporate, on the importance of understanding product integrity. Green Seal President & CEO Arthur Weissman and VP Marketing & Outreach Linda Chipperfield met for drinks and dinner with Scott, Chris and Holly.  In addition to Ei|NRA project discovery, potential Global Green|Green Seal synergies were explored.

Day Two began with another wonderful breakfast at The Mayflower with Darryl Young, Sustainable Cities Program Director, The Summit Foundation.  Darryl is one of the most connected individuals in the sustainability community!  The breakfast was a fantastic mutual update for long-time friends Scott and Darryl and an appreciated Ei introduction to the Summit Foundation.

Chris, Holly, Lynn Bragg,
Conni Kunzler & Bryan Vickers
The Glass Packaging Institute meeting was an opportunity to put faces with conference call voices and meet incoming President Lynn Bragg.  Conni Kunzler and Bryan Vickers are a strong and guiding force in the Atlanta glass recycling pilot in the research stage.  

With the nation's restaurant and bars major generators of glass from alcoholic beverages, the NRA support is key to mobilizing the foodservice industry to demand a glass recycling option other than single-stream.  Refer to prior ZWZ Blog posts, Single-Stream Recycling:  The Good, the Bad & the Ugly, Glass Recycling Kiln Ignited, The Continuing Glass Dilemma, and Single-Stream Recycling Controversy, where glass recycling is addressed and glass is identified as a contaminant in single-stream recycling.

Neil Seldman &
Brenda Platt
Lunch was a vibrant connection with dear pals Neil Seldman and Brenda Platt of the Institute of Local Self Reliance.  With Ei a working partner in the Institute's Waste to Wealth Program, the lunch was excellent timing for Scott to spend relaxed time with Neil and Brenda.  See the ZWZ Blog post, GOT QUESTIONS?  ZWZ Has Answers, where Brenda turned around a Compostable Products FAQ in less than 24 hours - Brenda ROCKS!

The Meeting Marathon ended with meetings attended by NRA executives Scott DeFife (Sr. Executive VP of Government & Public Affairs)  and Sue Hensley (Sr VP Public Affairs Communications).  Future announcements, press releases and blog posts will document the outcome of the decisions  made in these two meetings. 

 It is a thrilling time for foodservice operators as the National Restaurant Association is committed to leading the industry down the path to sustainable and healthful operating practices.

For the pictorial recap of the Ei|NRA Meeting Marathon visit the Ei FB album, 08-11 Ei Washington, D.C. Visit - A Meeting Marathon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

GWCC Hits Recycling Stride

Ga World Congress Center
The Georgia World Congress Center, a Founding Zero Waste Zones Participant, continues to evolve its sustainability practices.  With the hiring of Tim Trefzer as the first sustainability coordinator in December, 2010 (see  ZWZ Blog post, GWCC Walks Their Talk, for details), the GWCC hit their recycling stride in 2011.

We’ve had a lot of success working with our environmentally-conscious customers on measuring and reducing the impact of their events,” says Tim 

See the July 27 press release, GWCC Working with Customers to Green Events, for the impressive recycling stats for the 2011 Microsoft Convergence (9,100 attendees) and Tech*Ed (10.250 attendees) conferences and a McDonald's internal meeting (7.000 attendees).  It is a team effort to reach 55 to 65% diversion from landfill rates:  the GWCC must offer recycling and re-purposing options and the client must be an engaged participant.  

The most impressive stats relate to the donation of the left over supplies at conference end to local organizations.  A total of 1,000 backpacks, 600 t-shirts, 60 polo-style shirts, 1,000 pens/pencils, 500 notebooks, 800 water bottles and 2,000 lanyards were distributed from the Microsoft Tech Ed event to local schools and charities.  Kudos to the GWCC for taking the lead to find organizations to receive these valuable items.

Since Tim joining the GWCC team, the recycling rates increased dramatically across the board.  Single-stream recycling increased from 54 tons in FY 2010 to 110 tons in FY 2011; recycled cardboard increased from 49 tons to 78 tons; and composted food waste increased from 290 tons to 410 tons.   Note the 2011 stats only reflect a little more than half of the year.

Stay tuned as the ZWZ celebrate with the GWCC on their successes!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ray Anderson: A Legacy Beyond Description

On Monday, August 08 Ray Anderson, founder of Interface, left a legacy beyond description when he passed through the veils separating us from the heavens.

An uncompromising hero, Ray inspired his carpet manufacturing company to accomplish what seemed impossible back in 1994:  reduce energy consumption, eliminate landfill destined material, and decrease Green House Gas emissions ALL within a solid, profitable business model.  

As a true leader, Ray inspired his comrades (employees) to co-create a new operating plan.  Wow - did it work!  Refer to the below list of recommended articles for specifics on the miraculous results of his revolutionary approach that produced environmental and corporate WINS.

Ray proved "good business" and environmental stewardship are one in the same.  Without him here to personally advocate the message, it is imperative to honor Ray's legacy by following his lead.  Remember Ray listened to his Heart and refused to abide by logic embraced in social consciousness.  The answers to creating strong economic strides with net zero environmental impact lie in the silence between the verbose clutter of our minds.  Silence is heard by our open Hearts, where logic has no home.  Once the silence is heard, logical solutions miraculously appear.

THANK YOU Ray Anderson for your unwavering Faith and willingness to Trust your Heart.  You are a true inspiration and your legacy lives.

Recommended Links for Ray Anderson:

A simple Google search yields many more articles|features on Ray Anderson's contribution to humanity.