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Sunday, January 15, 2012

2011 Planning = 2012 ACTION

With coffee in-hand,
Louis & Matt ready to travel
In early January, Louis Herrera, Hilex Poly National Sales Director, Matt Hupp, Simon Property Group Director of Waste & Recycling and Holly Elmore, Elemental Impact Founder, headed to Charlotte for a two-day road trip.  With Simon the nation's largest mall operator and Hilex Poly the world's largest plastic bag manufacturer, the trip was an opportunity to take the many 2011 conversations and meetings into action steps.

Initial seeds for the January Charlotte trip were planted in June when Matt visited Atlanta for a day filled with meetings, including one with Louis.  See the ZWZ Blog post, Simon Property Group Embarks on Zero Waste Initiatives, for details of the June meetings.  A few weeks later Louis and Holly traveled to Simon's hometown, Indianapolis, for mall tours along with a day trip to Hilex Poly's plastic film-only dedicated recycling plant in N. Vernon, IN  See the ZWZ Blog post, Getting a Handle on Plastic Film Recycling, for an overview of the plant tour and the Ei FB album, 07-01-11 Hilex Poly Tour in Mt. Vernon, IN, for the pictorial recount of the educational day.

Daniel Rickenmann, Jake, Josh &
Doug during the Oct Charlotte visit
An active Sustainable Food Court Initiative Team Member, Simon is interested in one of their The Mills properties serving as a SFCI Mall Pilot. Concord Mills, located in the Charlotte metro area, is a prime property as the food court concessions are operated by fellow SFCI Team Member HMSHost.  

In October, Holly, Doug Kunnemann, NatureWorks Business Segment Director & SFCI Co-Chair, and Joshua Barone, HMSHost Sr. Manager, Business Analysis, visited Charlotte to tour Concord Mills and learn about local recycling infrastructure and support.  The ZWZ Blog post, Fertile Charlotte Grounds, details the trip highlights and the Ei FB album, 10-19-11 Charlotte Visit, gives the pictorial recap.

Jake Wilson, Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful Executive Director, was integral to the relationships forged during the October visit and Jake joined the group for dinner and some of the meetings during the January visit.

Action points for the January trip included starting a plastic film recycling pilot at Simon's two Charlotte malls and back-of-the-house prep food scrap collection for composting at Concord Mills.  With the foundation laid in 2011, the trip was a big success with many follow-up points already in motion.

plastic film drop-off area for tenants
Simon's SouthPark Mall was the first stop on the trip.  The visiting group was thrilled to learn mall tenants have the option to separate plastic film for recycling, a big step already in-process for the pilot!  

At both malls the loading docks, waste collection areas and tunnels | hallways supporting the retail operations were neat, well-organized and designed for efficiency, evidence of Simon's leadership role in the mall industry.  HMSHost is a leader in the contracted foodservice industry with a strong sustainability commitment.  The ZWZ Blog, Sustainability = SHARING, gives an overview of HMSHost's track record and future plans.  One of Ei's fortes is teaming industry leaders on projects to maximize impact and minimize start-up time.

The Ei FB albums, DAY 1 Charlotte Trip and DAY 2 Charlotte Trip, give the pictorial recap of the trip and shows how much fun the group has working together.

the group finishing a great dinner
The enthusiasm of HMSHost food court and Simon mall management for the pilots was inspiring.  With "Can Do" attitudes by the ones responsible for execution, the pilots are staged for success. Challenges encountered are viewed as opportunities to get creative and figure out the logistics necessary to sell former "trash" as valuable material.

Stay tuned for more tales from the exciting journey.

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