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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!

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