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Monday, October 1, 2012

Exemptions | Exclusions added to Atlanta Airport Info Packet

As the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Airport Pilot, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport works closely with the SFCI Team to bring sustainable operating practices to their operations, especially regarding food waste. In early 2012 the Atlanta Airport made a bold statement in the new concessionaire contract, the largest foodservice contract executed in North America. In the new contract, airport food vendors must meet the following provision:
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.
For details on the Airport's contract provision along with the impressive 2011 Going Green Airport Award, visit the ZWA Blog posts, Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Statement and Atlanta Airport SFCI Pilot Wins National Award.

The SFCI Sustainable Packaging Committee supports the airport and its concessionaires on understanding and meeting the contract provision. First on the agenda was preparation of the HJAIA Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet consisting of an introduction, fact sheet and frequently asked questions issued in April. The ZWA Blog post, Compostable Packaging Info Packet, announces the first rendition of the packet.

Over the summer the committee made several modifications to the packet to address product exemption and exclusions. The most significant additions to the Fact Sheet are underlined below:

Paper napkins are widely accepted as compostable and do not need to be third-party approved. Likewise, paper packets of salt & pepper and sweeteners do not need to be third-party approved as compostable.
Branded packaging used for food and beverage items manufactured by brand name food companies or by regional or national restaurant companies and supplied to restaurant locations operating at HJAIA are currently excluded from having to comply with the terms of this Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet. However, the excluded items relate solely to pre-packaging (e.g., beverage cans and bottles; snack food packaging such as nut, candy, and chip bags; and pre-packaged condiments). All other foodservice ware packaging/items must comply with this Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet. Exemptions issued by the City of Atlanta’s Department of Aviation may be granted, revoked, modified or suspended by DOA from time to time in their entirety or case-by-case basis. 
Excluded items require no action by the concessionaire. Exemption of specific items is provided by the City of Atlanta's Department of Aviation upon request on an annual basis. Working with the Airport, the committee will develop exemption forms for the concessionaires to submit.

Prepared as a flexible document, the packet is a valuable industry resource as compostable packaging becomes mainstream in food court operations. Future renditions are anticipated to address appropriate circumstances. Elemental Impact Partner HMSHost, the International Concourse concessionaire - the first airport foodservice under the new contract, works closely with the committee giving operator input for practical application.
The updated HJAIA Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet may be downloaded on the Ei site at this link and on the Institute for Local Self Reliance's site at this link.

Next on the committee action list is preparation of the Materials Usage forms concessionaires will complete to verify packaging meets the contract provision. Electronic versions are in process for a paperless completion option. HMSHost will be the first to complete the documents, giving the committee feedback to resolve tweaks prior to overall concessionaire distribution.

Thank you to the ILSR, specifically Brenda Platt, for the exceptional work on creating the documents and forms to support the Airport in their groundbreaking contract provision. Stay tuned for future updates on the journey.


  1. Most residential services place a limit on the amount of trash or number of bags that you can put out each week. Additionally, most only collect once a week.

    1. Thanks for taking the time read and post a comment. Note the information above refers specifically to the Atlanta Airport with the intent to create templates for other commercial environments. In general, Elemental Impact does not work within the residential recycling arena as it is an entirely different ballgame. Have a great day!