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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Common ZWZ Refrain: It's EASY

Atlanta's Charter Zero Waste Zones Participants share a common message:  zero waste practices are EASY, a no-brainer!   

Atlanta ZWZ Experience Summary:  Source-separating food residuals and recyclables is a matter of learning new work habits and purchasing (or re-purposing existing) bins. Overall, employees are eager to do their part in diverting valuable materials from landfills and back into the manufacturing process.

The Nation's Restaurant News Oct 24 Insight article Atlanta operators reduce waste written by National Restaurant Association Sr. Editor Elissa Elan gives an excellent synopsis of how easy the Atlanta pioneers found zero waste practices.  For a downloadable version of the article, visit the ZWZ National Media page.  

Here are a couple of quotes from the article:
Patrick Cuccaro & Steve Simon
chatting @ ZWZ Two-Yr  Press Event
"We've got 30 -50 employees per store, and I'd say it took two weeks of active engagement.  Then it was second nature." Steve Simon, Fifth Group Restaurants Partner

"The typical mentality is that waste goes into trash, but we started with very basic steps, like recycling.  That took about a week, and then we moved onto composting.  We thought the employees would think of this as an extra step that would make their jobs (tougher), but in fact, they knew more than we did."  Paul Baldasaro, COO Buckhead Life Group

Ecco, fifth group restaurant - no more
trash dumpster, only collection bins!
The article includes copy on Affairs to Remember's ZWZ program.  In addition to "easy", Patrick Cuccaro, ATR GM, mentions receiving heightened employee morale as an added-value - their 200+ employees were ready, willing and enthusiastic to embrace zero waste practices.

Keys to implementation ease are twofold:  1> take baby steps and 2> develop clear educational programs & signage.  Choosing recycling vendors who are partners with employee training programs and communication tools is common ground at successful programs.

The NRA ConSERVE Solutions for SustainabilityElemental Impact's ZWZ partner, is devoting resources for an educational platform on zero waste practices that will serve as a valuable industry tool.  With the NRA's support, keeping the "It's EASY" refrain will remain a consistent experience as the ZWZ embark upon national expansion.  Stay tuned!

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