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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! 

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