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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Local Flavor + Zero Waste = Balanced Sustainability

HMSHost is a forerunner using an integrated approach to sustainability where the many facets intertwine into a balanced system, addressing profitability, social responsibility and the environmental impact. Sustainability focus areas such as zero waste, local|nutritious food, energy efficiency, and toxic-free environments (to name a few) interrelate.  For a balanced system to emerge, an integrated approach to sustainability is a must.

Thanks to HMSHost, the Tampa International Airport is getting an infusion of local flavor and talent in the airport's dining scene.  With five new Tampa area concepts in various stages of openings, HMSHost brings "local" as an added ingredient and balance to their impressive sustainability commitment.

First Flight, A Wine Bar by Mise En Place - Tampa's premier restaurant for modern cuisine - is serving wine flights in the main terminal with an open-air space that complements the restaurant's style.  In the concourse area, travelers may enjoy the oasis created by the local favorite the Green Iguana. In a recent citywide burger competition, the Green Iguana was awarded "Best Burger in Tampa Bay" by a panel of celebrity and culinary judges.  

Cigar City brewing equipment
Staged for opening are Shula's Bar & Grill - a namesake concept for retired Dolphin's Coach Don Shula, Cigar City Brewing, and the Columbia Restaurant CafeFor those who love tasting local brew, stop by Cigar City where beer is brewed on-site. Yes, the Tampa Airport has its own brewery!  Be sure to sample Cigar City's signature brew, Tony Jannus, named for Tampa area hero and first commercial airline pilot.  

With an over 100-year tradition along the central Gulf Coast, the Columbia Restaurant is an all-time favorite among locals and tourists.  The Tampa Airport Columbia Restaurant Cafe holds to its tradition with tile and pictures imported from the homeland.  Manager Casey Gonzmart's title, fifth generation, clearly states the airport's commitment to the iconic restaurant's authenticity.

The thirsty traveler is the inspiration for new Bacardi Mojito Bars and Stella Kiosks located near the gate hold areas.  For those in a hurry to catch a flight, three new Ciao Gourmet Deli kiosks give a quick option for healthy grab and go meals along with nutritious snacks.

Mixed plastic bales ready for sale
With the chaotic times associated with opening a multitude of concepts simultaneously, the HMSHost team keeps its zero waste rhythm at a fast and effective pace. 

In the last year, an Orwak baler was installed in the loading area for mixed plastic.  Previously landfill destined, the mixed plastic bales are sold to a local recycling company.  

Metal from broken equipment and Starbuck's spent whipped cream chargers are sold as scrap metal.  Valuable, the chargers are now stored indoors due to dumpster pirates snatching them when kept in the loading area.

condiment station in
employee cafeteria
HMSHost eliminated condiment packets, common contamination in recycling and composting feedstock, from the airport operations.  Condiments are now served into paper cups at pump stations.

With HMSHost's high quality standards and commitment to providing the traveler with an abundant grab and go food item selection, each day there is an inventory of delicious, nutritious food no longer suitable for sale.  HMSHost vendors typically produce a 10 - 15% overage to maintain selection standards. Working in partnership with local non-profit organizations, HMSHost donates this food to a children's center during the week where it may serve as the child's main meal of the day. On the weekend the food is donated to area homeless folks.

Perry with delicious food
ready for donation
Since September, 2010 HMSHost - Tampa Airport recovered the equivalent of 225,000 meals and spurred similar programs in 13 other airports.  The ZWA Blog post, Reduce First, Reuse Second and Compost Third, features the Tampa Airport's impressive food donation program.

For a pictorial overview of the recent Tampa Airport visit, see the Ei FB album, 05-23-12 Tampa Airport Tour.

It is an honor to include HMSHost - Tampa Airport as a founding Zero Waste Zones National Zone Participant. Kudos to Perry Kranias, HMSHost Tampa Airport food & beverage director, for his passion and tenacity to create systems that make strong business sense and benefit the environment.  Heroes like Perry are paving the pathway to a paradigm where zero waste practices are standard operating practices.

Stay tuned as the FUN at the Tampa Airport is ready to escalate!

Monday, May 28, 2012

GA Dome SFCI Team Tour

In mid April Elemental Impact announced the Georgia Dome will serve as the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Event Venue Pilot - see the ZWA Blog post, Georgia Dome - SFCI Event Venue Pilot, for details of the announcement.  Committed to action, the SFCI GA Dome Team is formed with a facility tour first on the agenda.

Brian giving the suites
recycling overview
Tim Trefzer, GA Dome sustainability director, and Brian Lapinskas, Levy Restaurants | GA Dome director of operations, welcomed the SFCI Pilot Team to the facility for a detailed tour of operations and practices in place.  As Founding Zero Waste Zones Participants, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority's three properties - Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Dome and Olympic Centennial Park - have impressive zero waste practices in-place.

Since joining the GWCCA in December 2010, Tim's committed effort evolved the venue's sustainable practices and programs to new dimensions.  The ZWA Blog, GWCC Hits Recycling Stride, gives an overview of impressive reuse | recycling systems in place during several major 2011 events.

The compact FiltaFry system
At the mid May tour, the SFCI Pilot Team witnessed the reduce first, reuse second and then recycle philosophy at the foundation of Dome practices.  An example of reduction is the use of Ei Partner FiltaFry services for their fryer oil. Since using the filtering system in October, 2010, the Dome REDUCED their fryer oil consumption by 4,168 gallons.  Added benefit:  significant cost savings!

Another reduction example is Levy's shift to using only reusable china, flatware, glasses and napkins in the Dome's suite foodservice. Implemented with augmenting the guest experience as the catalyst, the practice reduces disposable product use and potential recycling contamination, a multiple win. The china service is a prime example of how solid business practices are also sustainable best practices.

Equipment awaiting reuse
Under Tim's direction, an area of the loading dock area is designated to collect used equipment no longer useful in GWCCA operations.  The items are sold for refurbishment and REUSE.  In addition to escaping landfill destination, used equipment sales improve the bottom line while providing end users with an economical purchase, another multiple win! 

Back-of-the-house recycling practices are strong and effective.  Front-of-the-house recycling is challenging when the consumer is relied upon for separating trash from recyclable and compostable material.  The SFCI Pilot Team brings experience with creating successful programs in other stadiums.  Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks along with Buzz Chandler of StalkMarket worked closely with the Portland Rose Garden on establishing their green game initiatives.  

Cardboard recycling in action
At the Seattle Mariner's Safeco Field, Chris Bradlee of BASF partners with the facility for their FOH recycling and composting program.. Camp Fire USA youth are engaged to educate consumers on proper item disposable while meeting criteria within their badge program.

With the foundation laid during the tour, Pilot committees are in the formation process. Team members will serve on three initial committees: Baseline & Metrics, Packaging and FOH Recycling Bins. Ei Program Director Susan Montgomery is orchestrating the committee formation and developing team action tasks.

For a pictorial tour overview, see the Ei FB album, 05-16-12 GA Dome Pilot Tour.

GA SFCI Pilot Team @ tour end
It is thrilling to witness a stellar team comprised of local and national leaders come together with the common goal of creating an event venue zero waste template. With team representation from government, trade | business associations, non-profits and private enterprise, the necessary collaborative energy is inherent within the team.  

Stay tuned for blog posts announcing the GA Dome SFCI Pilot Team along with action tasks in process. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Waxed Cardboard Boxes = Landfill Destiny = $$ Lost

landfill destined waxed cardboard box
As businesses move down the zero waste path, audits of remaining "trash" reveal packaging is one of the main components of items destined for the landfill.  For foodservice operators, waxed cardboard boxes for produce (fruits and vegetables) and protein (meats, seafood & poultry) are a significant contributor to a company's waste hauling charges.  

With a strong commodity market, operators who bale cardboard on-site often create a recycling profit center with revenue from the bales more than offsetting the additional labor.  On the other hand, waxed cardboard goes in the trash dumpster where the operator pays waste hauling charges.

Lily @ the podium
According to Lily Kelly, Global Green's Coalition for Resource Recovery program director, "Approximately 1.45 million tons are covered in paraffin wax, so they can't be recycled.The cost is about $200 million in foregone revenues and hauling fees" Recyclable | compostable coatings are available for cardboard boxes to replace the paraffin wax.

At the 2012 National Restaurant Association Show Elemental Impact Chair Scott Seydel orchestrated and Lily moderated an excellent educational session on transport packaging, with a focus on waxed cardboard boxes.  The formal session name was Challenging the Value-Chain to Transform Transport Packaging:  Eco-Friendly , Wallet-Friendly Solutions.

NRA Show session panel
Part of the session included the successful collaborative efforts by Mountainaire Farms and Interstate Container on developing a recyclable|compostable corrugated box for chicken transport. Pratt Recycling presented on how they harvest the urban forest to make cardboard boxes from 100% recycled material. HMSHost gave the foodservice operator's perspective on the end user of transport packaging along with an overview of their sustainability programs.

Elissa Elan, NRA senior editor, sustainability, gives a thorough session synopsis in the NRA News Hub article, Eco-friendly packaging, sustainability practices explored. ]The Ei FB album, 05-08-12 Transport Pkging Session @ the NRA Show, gives a pictorial session recap.

White Oak Pastures bull 
While CoRR addresses produce waxed cardboard use (the vast majority), Ei is exploring the packaging used in protein transport as the first steps in the Product Stewardship Focus.  To understand the current scenario, Ei Partners and friends visited two sustainable farms, each meeting th Whole Foods 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards with a 5+ designation. The ZWA Blog post, Consumer Demand: A Powerful Voice to Affect Change, gives an overview of the farm tours and Ei's foray into Product Stewardship.

In true partner spirit, Ei was active at the 2012 NRA Show via the transport packaging session and a strong presence on the show floor.  See the IMPACT Blog post, 2012 NRA Show - Powerful, for a recap of Ei Partner show participation. The Ei FB album, 2012 NRA Show in Chicago, gives the pictorial recount.

At the NRA educational session and on the farm tours, it was thrilling to witness the passion in action to create transport material destined for recycling rather than the landfill.  With collaborative effort, solutions will come forth that make solid business sense for the entire value-chain.  ... and the best part is the environmental benefit!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Consumer Demand: A Powerful Voice to Affect Change

In the zero waste world the focus is primarily on a product's end-of-life without a strong emphasis on the manufacturing process, the "beginning of life."  With product stewardship an emerging focus, Elemental Impact embraces an integrated approach to sustainability where products and practices are explored from a holographic viewpoint; the product's origins are as important as it's destination.

Facts at the foundation of Ei's product stewardship focus:

FACT: Manufacturing companies are in the business of making products that consumers, whether corporate or personal, will purchase at a fair market value.

FACT: Manufacturers must make a reasonable profit and adapt to shifts in consumer demand to remain a viable business.  

FACT: The consumer, whether personal or corporate, may use the power of demand and spending dollars to influence items manufactured along with the related packaging and production practices.

waxed cardboard boxes are
landfill destined
With Ei's zero waste expertise, transport packaging is a strong first step in the Product Stewardship journey.  Many companies do not realize packaging choices influence their customer's ability to achieve zero waste goals. Educating the complete supply | value chain (includes the end-user)  on sustainable packaging is imperative to shifts from landfill-destined boxes, or other containers, to recyclable | compostable options.

For a packaging metamorphosis, the entire supply | value chain must work together on understanding the current scenario, defining sustainability goals and discovering solutions that make solid business sense for the entire chain.  Cross industry sector collaboration is key to an overhaul of packaging standards.

Ei Ptr Chris Bradlee (BASF) &
Will Harris 
To begin the journey a group of Ei Partners and friends traveled to South Georgia for farm tours. Learning the farm's practices and assessing the current scenario for protein transport packaging were the catalyst for the trip.  Ei chose family-run farms committed to sustainability and animal welfare at the core of their ethics and operations.

The farms, White Oak Pastures and Thompson Farms Smokehouse, are Whole Foods suppliers and meet the stringent Whole Foods 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards with a 5+ designation.  Earning the 5+ designation requires animals must live outdoors with freedom to roam, graze and | or wallow and all body parts must remain intact - no castration of young males is permitted.  On-farm abattoirs are required so the livestock never experience the stress of leaving the farm.

A happy WOP chicken
strutting in the grass
Will Harris, WOP Patriarch, welcomed the group to his farm in the mid afternoon and spent the remainder of the day and into the evening educating the inquisitive guests. A detailed tour of the farming and slaughter practices was first on the agenda.   WOP raises grassfed cattle, lambs, turkeys and chickens for commercial sale.  

It was amazing to witness the dignity and respect for the animals inherent within WOP farming practices.  Result:  healthy, happy livestock that produces great tasting, nutritious meat devoid of steroids, hormones and antibiotics. The entire chain from the soil to the livestock to the farmers to the consumer benefit.

Solar panels provide 40%
of the WOP abattoir power
In the United States WOP is the only farm with on-farm permitted beef and poultry abattoirs and one of only two farms with an on-farm beef abattoir.  Approximately 40% of the abattoir's power is generated by solar panels.  

Zero Waste Zones - National Zone Participant, WOP abattoirs are zero waste. For an overview of WOP's transformation from a conventional cattle ranch to one of the most sustainable farms in the nation, see the IMPACT Blog post, White Oak Pastures - Dignity & Respect @ Its Core.

The following day the group traveled to Thompson Farms Smokehouse for an amazing tour of their hog farm in Dixie, GA.  As with WOP, the common theme was dignity and respect for the hogs including a healthy quality of life.

Thompson Farms Abattoir
Due to time constraints most of the tour focused on the slaughter practices in the on-farm abattoir permitted in September, 2011.  In addition to eliminating the stress of transport to an off-site slaughterhouse, the on-site operations give Thompson Farms a strong payback especially considering the time spent on past slaughter transport.

Andrew Thompson
sharing his wisdom
Andrew Thompson gave the group a thorough education of the slaughter process along with many interesting hog facts.  A hog's gestation period is 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days. The biggest predator for new born piglets are buzzards, erroneously known for eating only carcasses of the deceased.  Once a boar's sexual hormones activate the meat becomes tainted with a distinctive taste.  Young boars are generally harvested at a weight significantly less than their female counterparts to avoid the meat tainting, an added cost of not castrating young boars.

THANK YOU to Will Harris of White Oak Pastures and Andrew Thompson of Thompson Farms Smokehouse for your time and true Southern hospitality.  It was an immense honor to first-hand witness sustainable agriculture in action.

For a pictorial recap of the farm tours, see the Ei FB albums, 05-14-12 White Oak Pastures Tour, and 05-15-12 Thompson Farms Tour.  WARNING: Some Thompson Farms photos are graphic yet honor the process and the livestock who gave their lives to fulfill consumer demand for animal protein.  Future blog posts will delve into the farming practices - how fun!

A farewell group shot  with
the Thompson Farm folks
For farms like WOP and Thompson Farms to thrive it is important for the consumer to show support with their spending dollars.  A common challenge among sustainable farmers, who incur higher production costs, is the consumer is enthusiastic with their voice yet not with their dollars.  A healthy solution for the budget-minded consumer, including chefs, is to replace quantity with quality when making animal protein purchasing decisions.

With the established  ZWZ Participants network, mainly foodservice operators, Ei is positioned to educate foodservice operators of the implications transport packaging has on their zero waste goal achievement.  Once engaged foodservice operators may use their powerful spending dollars to influence their suppliers' packaging choices.  Sustainable animal protein (and other) transport packaging options are available in the market place

It is important to remember the producers and manufacturers must make a reasonable profit to sustain their businesses.  Working together in collaborative effort, solutions will emerge where all benefit within a solid business model.  Let's find the collective consumer demand voice and effect change in outdated packaging and other operating practices.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Simon Property Group @ Sustainability Helm

LED lit mall entrance sign
Gurnee Mills exemplifies the sustainability magic that occurs when passionate, committed managers are supported by strong corporate policy.  On May 07 an Elemental Impact Partner team joined Matt Hupp, Simon Property Group director of waste & recycling, at Gurnee Mills for an inspiring tour of front and back-of-the house green practices.

The tour group
Photo courtesy of Ei Chair Scott Seydel
After a thorough overview of the mall's green initiatives by Randy Erbertowski, general manager, and Kirk Moffitt, director of operations, the group embarked on the Gurmee Mills tour - what a treat!  First stop was one of the compactor areas where the recycling and trash compactors are clearly marked.  A peak inside the recycling compactor revealed clean, contaminant-free material.

Louis @ recycling compactor
Working with CleanRiver Recycling Solutions, Simon developed a national signage program to communicate and remind tenants of recycling practices in place.  The doors leading to the loading area have a "Know Where to Throw" sign and each compactor has clean, simple to understand signs for their respective recycling or trash use.  Compactor signs are on the front and at the load-in area.  All signage is bi-lingual.

Randy @ Starbucks bin
Thanks to CleanRiver's generosity, the Gurnee Mill's Starbucks is testing a recycling bin designed specifically for a coffee outlet. From all appearances, the bin seems to work great with positive consumer participation. CleanRiver founder & CEO Bruce Buchan joined the tour and gave important insights on how to create effective signage and recycling containers.

Louie Herrera of Hilex Poly was on the tour to learn about the tenant plastic film generated from garment packaging at the mall.  Hilex Poly and Simon are in the formation stage of a plastic film recycling pilot at Concord Mills in Charlotte.  The ZWA Blog post, 2011 Planning = 2012 ACTION, gives an overview of several Charlotte pilots in development.

Restrooms are a behind-the-scenes haven for energy & waste initiatives, ranging from water to paper to energy reduction opportunities.  The recently renovated mall restrooms are complete with paper towel reducing hand dryers, water-saving faucets and toilets and energy-efficient lighting. For those die-hard consumers committed to paper towels, the towel dispenser is in easy view yet at the back end of the restroom facility.

Gurnee Mills green initiatives are throughout the sustainability gamut.  Over 3,000 light fixtures were replaced with energy-efficient bulbs and mall entrance signs were converted to LED lights. A new electric vehicle charging station was installed in the parking area.  Along with recycling all construction material related to renovations, the mall uses a panel construction barrier system that eliminates the use of sheet rock to conceal tenant improvements. 

Kirk showing the "cool" LED lights
Although some upfront investment is required, the green initiatives are in general cost-saving in nature and|or have a short payback period before contributing to the bottom line.

The Ei FB album, 05-07-12 Gurnee Mills Tour, gives a pictorial recap of the impressive tour.

Success stories like Gurnee Mills require the partnership of strong corporate policy supported by passionate, committed on-site managers like Randy and Kirk,  Gurnee Mills provides the foundation for Matt to develop a template for nationwide implementation.  It is thrilling to witness the nation's largest mall owner take the sustainability helm.  Stay tuned for tales from the exciting journey!