Search This Blog

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Atlanta Airport SFCI Pilot Wins National Award

On Monday, October 31 Michael Cheyne, Director of Asset Management & Sustainability for the Atlanta Airport, accepts the 2011 Going Green Airports Award at the 4th AnnualAirports Going Green Conference in Chicago for the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Pilot Project @ Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  The prestigious award recognizes the value of the project, as well as outstanding leadership in pursuit of sustainability within the aviation industry.

The Sustainable Food Court Initiative, an Elemental Impact Task Force in partnership with the National Restaurant Association ConServe Program, mission is to bring zero waste initiatives to food courts and develop industry sustainable best practices for back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house operations. Food courts present tremendous challenges to implementing zero waste initiatives, including franchisee|franchisor agreements, landlord|tenant leases, foodservice operators who do not control their waste disposal and third-party items brought into the food court.  

Airport food prepared for
in-flight consumption
Airports extend the challenges with third party custodial contracts, high business volume and security restrictions to front and back-of-the-house operating areas.  Thanks to Michael;s commitment to sustainable practices, the Atlanta Airport serves as the first SFCI pilot program.  Concourse T is the first food court in the staged-in pilot.  See the ZWZ Blog post, Atlanta Airport - First SFCI Pilot Project!, for details on the pilot launch including national team members.  

The SFCI Team is working with the City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability and the Department of Aviation to develop the current waste baselines so solid metrics may be used to document the pilot success.  Industry experts from the leading packaging trade associations and companies are developing a sustainable foodservice packaging education packet to give to each airport concessionaire as the pilot expands to other concourses.  

With perfect timing, the Atlanta Airport is in the midst of the concessionaire RFP for the entire airport.  The City of Atlanta and Department of Aviation team, led by Michael Cheyne, made the bold, courageous and successful move to include the following provision in the RFP: 
BPI certifies compostable
foodservice packaging

Concessionaire shall use compostable serviceware along with consumer facing packaging and source separate all food service wastes for direct transport to off airport composting facilities.
The compostable packaging provision in the Airport concessionaire RFP is the foundation for the Going Green Airport Award.  See the ZWZ Blog post, Atlanta Airport Makes Bold Sustainable Statement, for details on the contract provision.

With journey just beginning, stay tuned for tales as the foodservice industry evolves operating and packaging practices. 

Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Sustainable Statement

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Concourse T, serves as the Sustainable Food Court Initiative's first pilot project.  See the ZWZ Blog post, Atlanta Airport - First SFCI Pilot!, for details on the pilot announcement, including the national team members.

In order for SFCI pilot success, concessionaires must be required to use sustainable packaging and source-separate compostable and recyclable materials for processing versus landfill destination.  Changes in contracts with concessionaires and a team spirit with the airport waste hauler along with the contracted custodial companies are a necessity for success.

Michael Cheyne
With perfect timing, the Atlanta Airport is in the midst of the concessionaire RFP for the entire airport.  The City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability and Department of Aviation team, led by Michael Cheyne, Director of Asset Management & Sustainability for the Airport, made the bold, courageous and successful move to include the following provision in the RFP: 
Concessionaire shall use compostable serviceware along with consumer facing packaging and source separate all food service wastes for direct transport to off airport composting facilities.

 As the world's busiest airport, the new concessionaires will run the entire gamut from local concepts to the nation's largest chains and quick service restaurants.  This provision serves as a catalyst to evolve restaurant consumer packaging at every level.

BPI certifies compostable
foodservice packaging
With the support of the National Restaurant Association, the Foodservice Packaging Institute, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Elemental Impact and leading industry experts, the Atlanta Airport is the nation's leader in requiring zero waste initiatives implementation in foodservice operations at a major venue.  Working together with collaborative spirit, the SFCI Team will develop new systems that may serve as a solid business model for other airports and facilities to template.

A subcommittee is developing an educational packet for airport concessionaires on the WHAT, WHY & HOW of compostable packaging.  The packet will be available in hard copy with an on-line version on the Elemental Impact and Institute for Local Self-Reliance sites.

The bold Atlanta Airport statement is in perfect alignment with the City of Atlanta's sustainability commitment and support of the Zero Waste Zones program.  "The city’s support of Zero Waste Zones illustrates our commitment to moving Atlanta toward becoming a top 10 city for sustainability. " says Mayor Kasim Reed.

The City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Airport are embarked on a phenomenal journey working in partnership with the SFCI Team to evolve the operating standards of concessionaire operations at airports, malls, event venues and other facilities with food courts.  Stay tuned for tales from the journey!

Marlin Gottschalk - Remembered with Awards

Marlin Gottschalk
On May 23, 2011 Georgia lost one of its strongest environmental advocates when Marlin Gottschalk left this realm after a valiant encounter with cancer.  The ZWZ Blog post, Farewell to a Friend, Colleague & Mentor, is ZWZ Director Holly Elmore's personal tribute to Marlin.

As Director of the GA Department of Natural Resources Sustainability Division, Marlin was either at the forefront or the foundation of Georgia's green initiatives.  This fall is filled with recognition of a Hero who now gives his unwavering support and guidance from a dimension we sense yet cannot see.

In September Marlin received the 2011 Emory University Alumni Sustainability Award honoring an alum who has made significant contributions to environmental protection and sustainability.  Marlin earned his impressive academic achievements, from undergraduate through his doctorate degree, at Emory.
Rachel, Kathy & Russell
Gottschalk @ GreenLaw event
Photo credit:  Paula Gould

GreenLaw, Honoring Citizens Who Use the Law to Improve the Environment, presented Marlin with the Distinguished Public Service Award at the October GreenLaw's 2011 Environmental Heroes Celebration.  Marlin's wife Kathy and children, Russell & Rachel, accepted the newly created award on Marlin's behalf.

The program copy ends with this truthful statement:

Marlin brought a rare combination of intellect and passion, vision and pragmatism—as well as a delightful sense of humor—to his work. He was determined to make a compelling business case for sustainability while honoring the systems ecologist at his core. His many mentees will carry on his legacy for years to come.

Marlin @ 2010 Ei Meeting
In mid October the Georgia General Assembly issued a Senate Resolution honoring the life and memory of Dr. Marlin Ralph Gottschalk. 

At the November Elemental Impact Annual Sponsor and Advisory Council meeting Marlin will be sorely missed.  Along with valued insights, Marlin led the strategy session closing the 2010 meeting.  The IMPACT Blog post, Ei Sponsor, Advisory Council & Board Meeting, gives a meeting overview and copy on Marlin's contributions.

It is important heroes like Marlin receive recognition for their invaluable impact.  The ZWZ Blog will continue to honor Marlin and publish posts about his influence and future awards.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Safety & Education - A Necessary Marriage

With the National Restaurant Association embracing the diversion of food residuals from landfills via their Elemental Impact | Zero Waste Zones partnership, permitted destination facilities for post-consumer food residuals is an industry focus.  With the significant pending demand increase for post-consumer organics collection options, the composting and waste to energy landscape is on the verge of a major shift.

At the foundation of all NRA activities is food, employee and customer safety.  Plans are underway to create a strong foodservice operator educational platform with webinars, videos and training sessions related to zero waste initiatives. The platform will educate on the safety measures important for handling food residuals during source-separation through collection by a third party.

On one hand, food residuals are a valuable component to compost and waste to energy recipes.  On the other hand, once food begins the decomposition process, dangerous, toxic gasses may be created when improperly handled.  Thus, the strict regulations surrounding the permitting and operating of compost facilities.

Earlier this month tragedy struck at a California composting operation when two young men died on the job, highlighting the importance of state regulations and the role of the U.S. Composting Council.  In a formal press release, Composting Council: AnOngoing Commitment to Safety at Composting Facilities, sends it condolences to the deceased men's families and reinforces the USCC safety emphasis.  Safety is of primary concern to us”, stated Michael Virga the Executive Director of the USCC, “we are committed to the safety of our members’ employees and the welfare of the communities in which they operate.”

For more information on the incident and the related investigations, read the Waste & Recycling article, Autopsies on composting victims inconclusive.

Educational programs and industry safety go hand-in-hand.  With Virga at the USCC helm since mid September (see ZWZ Blog post, USCC prepares for a new era!), industry education supporting composting safety is at the forefront of USCC activities. 

Post-consumer food waiting
collection for composting @
GA World Congress Center
On October 20 the USCC offered a free webinar, Adding food residuals to yard trimming compost sites, addressing three important aspects of incorporating food wastes: 1) acquisition, where will the food come from and how will it get there; 2) operations, what are the Best Management Practices for handling the food scraps and what changes to the facility site, equipment and operations will be needed, and 3) impact mitigation, how to prevent and address potential negative air and water impacts.  The PPT presentations may be downloaded on the USCC site link provided above.

Education extends beyond the composters to supporting industries and non-profits working to develop effective post-consumer food residual collection systems within seated dining establishments, Quick Service Restaurants and large, institutional foodservice operations (stadiums, universities, conference centers to name a few).  

Not only is human safety imperative, it is important to ensure quality compost is produced that nurtures the soil and crops rooted in the soil.  Consumer-facing packaging (what the food is served in to the consumer) must be made from 100% compostable material AND be effective from the restaurant operator perspective. Not any easy feat!

Starbucks hosts the Cup Summit.  At its essence the Summit gathers industry leaders together to explore how to create a cost-effective, recyclable cup that holds liquid for specified periods of time and temperature. Currently, the Starbucks focus is on creating a cup to cup option, where spent cups are recycled into new cups.

The Coalition for Resource Recovery, the New York City Global Green division headed by Annie White, is exploring options available for NYC's tremendous daily food discarded into landfills, at a high dollar and carbon cost. Committed to integrity through education, CoRR members toured a potential organic destination facility, Peninsula Composting in Wilmington, Delaware. The Global Green blog, From the Field: Digging into NYC's Compost, gives details on the tour.

Scott Seydel, Global Green Chair & Ei Advisory Council Chair, produced an excellent video, Peninsula Composting, of Peninsula's Gore covered static pile operation tour.  

Cooper ready for a fun sea gull chase
Located near the ocean, sea gulls flock to the compost piles when the Gore covers are removed .  After using many unsuccessful sea gull deterrent processes, Peninsula came up with a simple, clever solution:  Cooper the Border Collie!  What a job for the happy dog  - chasing birds!

The Sustainable Food Court Initiative, an Ei | NRA joint venture, mission is to bring zero waste initiatives to food court operations. Inherent within the pilot programs is understanding the training tools necessary to support effective post-consumer organics collection systems. With pilot projects launching, the SFCI team is developing an educational packet for foodservice operators on the WHAT, WHY & HOW's of compostable packaging.  

Education is the backbone of safety.  With collaborative effort on educational platforms from government, trade associations, non-profits and for-profit partners, the composting industry will maintain its overall excellent safety record as it evolves to include post-consumer organics into existing and new operations.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fertile Charlotte Grounds

Elemental Impact visited Charlotte in October for a series of meetings and tours to explore the landscape for the Zero Waste Zones and a Sustainable Food Court Initiative pilot .  The day started with a tour of Concord Mills, a Simon mall, followed by a back-of-the-house tour of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and ending with the Charlotte Green Team meeting.  It was a rewarding visit for Holly Elmore, Ei founder & ZWZ director, and Doug Kunnemann, NatureWorks business segment director and SFCI co-chair.

The Charlotte zero waste seeds were planted over a year ago when Darlene Heater, Charlotte CENTER CITY Partners VP of Neighborhood Development, spent a day with Holly in Atlanta learning about the Atlanta ZWZ program.

Brian Shetron discovering the
amazing amt of plastic film used
in transport packaging
At Concord Mills it was inspiring to witness the enthusiasm for zero waste initiatives by Ray Soporowski, the mall general manager, and the HMSHost team, who operates the food court concession operations.  The first exploration area is plastic film used in transport packaging for the food court and retail tenants's products.  

Visit the ZWZ Blog post, Getting a Handle on Plastic Film Recycling, where Ei and the Simon Property Group corporate folks toured Hilex Poly's plastic film recycling plant, the nation's only plant dedicated to plastic film only. Hilex Poly is the global leader in plastic bag manufacturing with a strong commitment to recapturing their plastic bags for recycled content.  The foundation is laid ... may the action begin!

Burger King's freshly cut
sandwich condiments
A local composting operation is interested in working with Concord Mills on food residual collection for composting from the food court operations.  It was inspiring to see Burger King procedures now include fresh-cut tomatoes, onions & lettuce for sandwiches.  Results:  a fresher product and increased  prep food residuals for compost collection.

Charlotte Airport coffee grounds
awaiting fatal encounters w/ fire ants
Wow - the Charlotte Douglas International Airport is amazing!   Bob Lucas with the Airport researched the possible uses for the approximately 1 ton per week of coffee grounds generated from the HMSHost operated airport Starbucks (during warmer months the amount of grounds decreases).  Fire ants are a stinging issue at the airport and coffee grounds are the perfect, environmentally friendly fire ant exterminator.  A future blog post will give more facts on Bob's clever approach to airport pests.

HMSHost, who operates the airport concessions, works in unison with the airport sustainability initiatives.  As an example, milk jugs used at licensed Starbucks location are rinsed, collected and delivered by HMSHost to the Airport who sells them as a valuable commodity.   It was powerful to witness relationship synergies in full throttle.

The team finishing the airport tour
Cynthia Payne with Go Green, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle took time out of her busy schedule to educate on the Charlotte's airport $1.1 million planned recycling center.  Current projections estimate a five-year investment payback.  See the Charlotte Observer Oct 25, 2011 article, Worms to turn out compost at airport's $1.1 million recycling center, for details on the aggressive, impressive program.  

The Charlotte Green Team presented their plans for the 2012 Democratic National Convention  and recruited volunteers from the standing room only crowd.  Darlene is spearheading many of the sustainability activities as the city prepares for the national and international spotlight and scrutiny.

Darlene Heater, Les Epperson (City
of Charlotte), Rebecca Stoddard
(Shade of Green) @ Green Team reception
The Ei FB album, 10-19-11 Charlotte Visit, gives a pictorial recap of the Charlotte tours and meetings.

Jake Wilson, the Ei  Feb, 2011 IMPACTOR - see the IMPACT Blog post, A Man of Controversy, A Man of Action, joined most of the meetings in his capacity as Keep Mecklenburg County Beautiful executive director.  With Jake engaged, effective programs are destined to launch over the few months in Charlotte. Stay tuned!