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Monday, December 16, 2013

Tackling the Challenges | Barriers to Sustainable Packaging

2013 Partial Group Picture
(Ei FB album lists names)
In December Ei orchestrates the Annual Sustainable Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meeting where the challenges | obstacles to sustainable packaging are addressed. Global Green hosts the important meeting at their D.C. offices. Meeting invites are extended to the trade associations and non-profits who operate within the F&B packaging value chain.

Each year the meeting discussions exemplify the shifts and growth in an evolving industry. The ZWA Blog article, Second Annual F&B Packaging Meeting, is an overview of the 2012 meeting. For a recap of the inaugural 2011 meeting, visit the ZWA Blog article, Sustainable Foodservice Packaging Meeting.

Anchoring the value chain organizations are the following participating trade associations:

Numerous non-profits who work in arenas impacting food & beverage packaging attended the meeting:
Pre-meeting dinner
(Ei FB album lists names)
Many meeting participants joined Ei Chair Scott Seydel for a pre-meeting dinner at Logan Tavern. Great food and lively, fun dinner conversation set the stage for the powerful meeting the following day.

In the morning, each organization presented on their mission, stakeholders, 2013 activities and finished with planned 2014 projects. The meeting agenda, PPT presentations and attendee list are available for download on the Ei Meetings & Events page. 

Lack of consistency and confusion within the value chain was a consistent challenge interwoven within presentations. To create common ground several organizations are in various development stages for packaging standards, tool kits and other educational mediums. These documents are designed to assist the entire value chain - from manufacturers to foodservice operators to recycling and composting facilities - with decision making that aligns with emerging best sustainable packaging practices.

Linda Chipperfield presenting
Green Seal
Completed documents include Green Seal Standard #35, Foodservice Packaging, NRA Recycling Tool Kit, and  ILSR | Ei Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet prepared for the SFCI - Atlanta AirportThe USCC received a grant for a Compostable Plastics Tool Kit and the request for proposals is issued for 2104 work. Noting a frequent disconnect between packaging designers and effective end results, the SPC lists a Design Guide for Foodservice Packaging as 2014 projected work.

Industry working groups are another common thread among the participating organizations. In 2012 FPI formed the Paper Recovery Alliance and Plastic Recovery Group, which work on parallel yet complementary paths.The NRA formed the ConServe Sustainability Advisory Council comprised of environmental leaders from 14 restaurant and food service businesses spanning the value chain. Several Ei Partners and Advisers serve on the NRA Council. In 2013, the SPC created the Foodservice Packaging Leadership Committee focused on recovery.

Understanding the flow of packaging during the recovery process was a focus area for CoRR and FPI in 2013 and continuing into 2014. Working with the American Chemistry Council, the Association of Post-Consumer Plastics Recyclers, the Carton Council and the National Association for PET Container Resources, FPI is interviewing 50+ MRFs - material recovery facilities - to benchmark current foodservice packaging recovery including final destinations. Within the boundaries of proprietary agreements, FPI intends to share the results with industry counterparts.

 Bryan Vickers of the GPI
during his presentation
Green Seal is in the midst of the GS Pilot Standard for Sustainable Chicago Restaurants development with the final revised Standard due for publication in February 2014. As of December 11, six restaurants are certified under the new Standard. The NRA is relaunching the NEW Zero Waste Zones in Atlanta following the program purchase from Ei in late 2012.

During her presentation, Brenda Platt with ILSR | SBC made an astute observation: End of USE is the appropriate term versus the common End of LIFE used in the industry. The ZWA Blog article, Perpetual Life Cycle Systems - Simplicity is Key, further discusses Brenda's comment.

With updates and presentations complete, the meeting segued into a powerful industry strategy session focused on the challenges | barriers to sustainable packaging. As participants are well-acquainted from prior meetings and industry events, the group discussion was candid, honest, respectful and geared towards common goals. 

Lynn Dyer of FPI presenting
Strategy session topics flowed into several subject matters: Recyclable vs. Compostable vs Reusable, Policies & Regulations, Contamination, Best Practices, End Markets, Outreach | Education and Working Together | Collaboration. 

Food contamination is a major obstacle for recyclable food & beverage packaging and gives strong support for compostable options. In recent curbside research, FPI found food waste contamination at acceptable levels for most recycling operations. The group will continue research, observation and dialogue throughout the year on the topic. A 2014 goal is a common industry voice for the recyclable vs. compostable choice. Most participants agree reusable food & beverage serviceware are preferable when practical. 

Overall the group supports public policy and regulations mandating recycling and food waste diversion from the landfill. A sufficient grace period is important for infrastructure development. In addition to public laws, the group is in favor of contractual provisions between landlords | facility managers and service contractors | tenants that require action necessary for successful zero waste programs. Janitorial contract provisions specifying collection services that minimize contamination and maximize material value is a high priority.

Anne Bedarf with the
SPC during strategy session
Independent third party certification is important for developing programs; the group supports BPI Compostable Packaging Certification as the industry standard for compostable packaging. Packaging labels to assist the consumer with desired disposition was a strong discussion point. The SPC takes a leading role in labeling with their How2Recycle label initiative, which is up to 21 participants.

A group goal is industry best practices development. Diverse end markets and infrastructure in various locals is a challenge to standard packaging templates and best practices creation. The general consensus is program development must be at the local level yet based on an existing  broad sustainable packaging foundation. The SPC Essentials of Sustainable Packaging educational workshop offers a comprehensive introduction to sustainability considerations that apply to the entire packaging life cycle: material sourcing, packaging design, manufacturing, transport, and final disposal.

Ei Administrator Melissa Selem
documenting the discussions
Strong end markets, whether recycling or composting, are the driving force for successful packaging programs. Though there were few specific discussion points on end markets, Lynn Dyer with FPI pointed out the entire session was dedicated to creating a valuable packaging End of Use, whether recycling or composting destined. The other topics are the building blocks for strong end market development.

In many circumstances sustainable packaging is more expensive than existing packaging and increases costs for food & beverage departments within a large facility or tenants in an event venue, office building, mall or other facility. Yet the switch to sustainable packaging shifts the disposition from waste to a material, saving on compactor pull charges and landfill tipping fees. In general, reduced materials management fees are realized by the facilities department or venue landlord |  management company. 

Lily Kelly of Global Green
during strategy session
There was discussion on the disparity between those incurring the increased packaging cost and those benefiting from the disposition cost-savings. Unless required by contract or lease provisions, most food & beverage departments or outlets do not incur the additional expense without sharing in the disposition savings. An equalizing of the costs | benefits within the value chain is required for sustainable packaging to emerge as standard packaging.

Throughout the discussions, synergies among various programs and initiatives were apparent and the respective organizations made a point to further discuss working together, if not doing so already.  In addition to the Annual Meeting, the group decided a midsummer conference call is important to enhance communication and strengthen work-in-progress.

DC Eco-Warriors @ reception
(names in FB album)
Great food and fun are integral to Ei's successful meeting model. Thanks to Whole Foods catering, the group was treated to delicious, healthy food for a light breakfast, substantial lunch, dessert afternoon break, and importantly an ending wine reception. Compostable packaging was used and Melissa Selem, Ei Program Administrator, delivered the meeting food waste and packaging to Whole Foods for composting prior to the finale dinner.

For the meeting pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB album, 2013 F&B Packaging Value Chain Meeting.

An emerging industry in the evolution process, sustainable packaging is ready for best practices, tool kits, educational material and templates for the food and beverage industry to adopt and follow. The Annual Sustainable Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meeting brings together the industry leaders who address the challenges | barriers to sustainable packaging becoming standard packaging. Stay tuned for exciting announcements as the industry continues to evolve!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Scaling up composting in Charlotte, NC

It is official: The Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a project of GreenBlue, is the recipient of an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IV grant to scale up composting in the Charlotte, NC area. The grant is an excellent opportunity for public | private partnership with government (federal, state, & local), non-profits, educational institutions and private enterprise to work in unison on common ground.

The following is an abbreviated grant outline:
GOAL: Promote co-composting of food and packaging waste

1) Demonstrate the functional feasibility and community benefits of co-composting
Food &Paper Waste (waste diversion, methane generation avoidance, and material reuse: waste generator education; identification of some important co-composting process variables; and creation of a marketable compost product;
2) Benchmark typical F&PW feedstock characteristics;
3) Collect economic and environmental data about F&PW composting; and
4) Disseminate findings to stimulate new programs nationwide.

Task 1. Route Optimization
Task 2. Enlistment and Training of Participants
Task 3. Waste Collection and Transport
Task 4. Composting, Monitoring, and Evaluation
Task 5. Characterization Data
Task 6. Final Report and Dissemination

Anne Bedarf &
Ei founder Holly Elmore
SPC senior manager Anne Bedarf spearheads execution of the grant goals, objectives and tasks. As an industry veteran, Anne recruited a superb team to support the SPC in Charlotte. University of North Carolina Charlotte, IDEAS Center, Earth Farms Organics and Elemental Impact are sub-grantees under the SPC umbrella. In addition, the NC Division of Environmental Assistance, Mecklenburg County and Waste Reduction (a private company that works closely with the Mecklenburg County food waste group) are active team members.

In anticipation of grant funding, the team met for a strategy session during the 2012 Carolina Recycling Association’s Food Waste Conference in Charlotte. Discussion centered around how to most effectively utilize the grant for permanent, long-term action. Route density was emphasized as critical to create systems grounded in solid business sense.

With Mecklenburg County support, UNC Charlotte utilized student availability to produce a draft Route Optimization Report. As pilot participants are determined the report will evolve into its final format. Per the introduction, below is the report scope:
This particular task of the project aims to utilize Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology to (i) identify and map facilities known to employ compostable food containers or have a corporate strategy that would support it, (ii) identify and map an initial set of facilities in the area of North Charlotte which are potential participators during the first phase of the program, (iii) suggest optimal pickup routes and schedules for this initial set of pickup locations in order to maximize capacity and minimize cost, and (iv) address considerations for future program extension in terms of site.
On October 01, the team convened for their first official conference call to develop action points within grant goals, objectives and tasks. Unfortunately, the call aligned with the federal government "shutdown" and the EPA folks could not participate. Each participant educated the group on their Charlotte connections along with their planned contributions to the grant pilot. Most of the general discussion centered around the prime pilot participants to recruit.

Steam releasing while the windrows
are turned @ Earth Farms
The core group will meet via a call every three weeks to develop and accomplish a solid action plan. Google Docs provides an excellent document sharing platform for effective, timely communication. In March, the team intends to meet in-person coinciding with the 2013 Carolina Recycling Association Food Waste Conference in Asheville followed by a Charlotte visit.

Ei is honored and thrilled to join the SPC grant team. With the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Shopping Mall Pilot located in the Charlotte area, Ei has strong Charlotte working relationships. Along with the local SFCI team, Ei worked closely with Jim Lanier of Earth Farms on back-of-the house food waste collection for composting at the pilot mall, Concord Mills. The ZWA Blog post, ACTION: Theme for SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, recaps the food waste collection journey as well as other zero waste initiatives.

In March 2013 Ei Partners HMSHost and Simon Property Group hosted the Charlotte Ei Partner Tours for two action-packed days of tours, presentations and camaraderie. The IMPACT Blog post, Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, recaps the Charlotte visit and is supported by the Ei FB album. 03-04-13 Charlotte Ei Partner Tours - Day One.

Laurette Hall w/ Linda Dunn
of HMSHost @ Ei Ptr Tours
On the second day, the Ei Partners toured SouthPark Mall, Earth Farms' composting site and the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport where HMSHost operates the foodservice operations. The ZWA Blog post, Bring the Possible out Impossible, details the presentations and tours, including the Earth Farm tour. For a pictorial recap of the tours, visit the Ei FB album, 03-05-13 Ei Charlotte Partner Tours - Day Two.

Ei works closely with Mecklenburg County. For the Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, Laurette Hall - Mecklenburg County director of sustainability - joined the tours on the first day and Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful executive director Jake Wilson was with the group for both days.

Scaling composting up in Charlotte is staged for success. The EPA grant is an excellent opportunity to showcase the magic inherent within public | private partnerships. Stay tuned as The ZWA Blog will chronicle the road to success!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Recycling Refinement: moving beyond landfill diversion

Elemental Impact is committed to creating operating practices where integrity is maintained throughout the entire value chain, including material producers, users and destinations at disposal time. Diverting valuable material from landfills and back into the production process is the core of Ei’s foundation and expertise.

As the Zero Waste Zones steward, Ei served as a “zero waste cheerleader” educating the commercial consumer on the important role recycling plays in best business practices. Beyond environmental concerns, recycling programs often are profit centers, especially for larger generators, improve employee morale and are expected by customers.

With the late 2012 National Restaurant Association ZWZ purchase, Ei evolved from a cheerleader to working with zero waste veterans on refining recycling practices. The ZWA Blog post, National Restaurant Association Acquires the Zero Waste Zones, announces the program purchase.

In the early years, zero waste measurement was in diversion rates from the landfill without consideration of the final destination. Single-stream recycling, common as the only recycling service available, results in material contamination and a high percentage of the stream landfill destined. Note effective single-stream MRF – material recovery facilities – separation is limited by the contamination within the delivered material.

Ei Strategic Ally Container Recycling Institute's 2009 Understanding Economic and Environmental Impacts of Single-Stream Collection Systems white paper documents how single-stream systems achieve their goal of increasing "diversion rates" yet result in decreased actual recycling due to contamination. The ZWA Blog post, Single-Stream Recycling: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, summarizes a 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency webinar on single-stream recycling challenges and fallacies. 

In the ZWA Blog post, Beyond Landfill Diversion, material destinations are further explored to ensure long-term integrity is maintained as new recycling systems are developed. As documented in the ZWA Blog post, The Perpetual Spiral, extending a material's end of life is not recycling and is only one step away from landfill destination. An example of extending life, versus recycling, is sending waxed cardboard - not recyclable nor compostable - to "fire log" manufacturing.  Without diving into the possible toxins involved in manufacturing and burning the logs, the use gives a false sense of environmental stewardship.

At the core of Ei's Recycling Refinement platform is moving beyond a landfill diversion focus to maximizing material value. The entire supply chain must work in unison to create systems grounded in solid business sense and bottom line improvement. The ZWA Blog post, Supply Chains Critical Role to Zero Waste Success, discusses how zero waste pioneers work closely with their suppliers to ensure packaging and other product components are returnable, reusable and | or recyclable.

simple, on-site mini MRF
Intertwined within Recycling Refinement is Recycling Integrity - maintaining maximum material value with minimum energy expended. With an emphasis on source-separation at the material generation site, Recycling Integrity demands organizations understand the final destination, including the journey along the way, of by-products inherent within their operations. A common industry by-product is transport packaging. 

The ZWA Blog post, Source-Separation Key for Maximum Recycling PROFITS, highlights several industry leaders who created impressive recycling profit centers via their on-site mini MRFs.

Working with industry pioneers, the Ei Team is refining existing recycling programs to source-separate material at the generation point and sell it as a raw material to manufacturing operations. Plastic film is an easy win in Recycling Refinement; the valuable material is considered a contaminant in single-stream recycling programs and is in general landfill-destined. Decreased tipping fees coupled with rebate revenue from clean, baled plastic film show promise to cover the additional equipment and labor cost to bale plastic film on-site.

plastic film in mini baler @
SFCI - Shopping Mall Pilot
Concord Mills
An Atlanta Ei Team is developing a city-wide plastic film recycling template designed for duplication across the nation. In addition to assisting the industry pioneers with on-site plastic film baling, the Ei Team is creating local infrastructure and markets. Once the plastic film recycling template is built, the infrastructure is destined to expand to other materials with minimal time and resource investment. The ZWA Blog post, If it was easy, it would already be done!, announces the Atlanta city-wide plastic film recycling template pilot.

Recycling Refinement is an exciting frontier with promise to create systems where the entire value chain benefits along with the community and the environment. Stay tuned for more tales along the RR journey ...

Creating Value through Zero Waste

Learn best practices from Zero Waste Businesses and
equip your business for Zero Waste Success! 
May 7 & 8th, 2014 - Atlanta, GA

In August the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council announced Atlanta is the host city for their annual conference May 7 & 8, 2014. The ZWA Blog post, Atlanta: Host City for the 2014 U.S. Zero Waste Business Council Conference, introduces Atlanta as an ideal host city with a summary of zero waste achievements and gives an USZWBC overview.

Ei Program Administrator with
Stephanie @ Watershed
As a conference partner | media sponsor, Elemental Impact works closely with USZWBC executive director Stephanie Barger and the Conference Planning Committee. In mid-September, Stephanie visited Atlanta for a whirlwind of introductory meetings orchestrated by Ei founder Holly Elmore. It was a fun, powerful two plus days jam packed with back-to-back meetings, many at Atlanta's amazing dining destinations.

Ei Supporter Republic Services welcomed Stephanie to Atlanta in grand style with a lovely, informative dinner at Watershed. Lively conversation was filled with strategies on how to maximize the 2014 conference impact for the USZWBC, the City of Atlanta and most importantly the zero waste industry. With Stephanie in sponsorship dialogue with Republic at a national level, it was synergistic to meet the local team.

The first full meeting day started at the Weston Buckhead, the conference host hotel. With strong sustainability and zero waste practices in-place, the hotel staff was eager to work with Ei on refining current recycling practices prior to the conference.

Stephanie & Suzanne @
The Optimist
Lunch at The Optimist with Suzanne Burnes, Sustainable Atlanta executive director, was inspiring! Discussions are in-process for Sustainable Atlanta's formal role co-hosting the conference. In addition to introductions for potential speakers and panel members, Sustainable Atlanta would serve as the focal Atlanta organization driving conference support by local non-profits, government, civic organizations and the powerful global companies with Atlanta corporate headquarters. 

Next on the schedule was meeting Cindy Jackson - Georgia Institute of Technology waste & recycling director - along with campus recycling coordinator Maria Linderoth. After introductions, Cindy took the group on a tour of their award-winning recycling program - impressive! The 2012 Ei FB album, Ga Tech hosts GWCCA, is a pictorial recap of GA Tech's recycling practices from a tour Cindy hosted for Georgia World Congress Center Authority director of sustainability Tim Trefzer.

Cindy, Stephanie & Maria with
Ei Partner CleanRiver recycling center
With Atlanta's eco warrior Laura Turner Seydel opening the conference as the keynote speaker, the next introduction meeting was with Laura's publicist Ron Slotin of Trio Media Group. Zero waste intertwine within Laura's powerful environmental platforms. After all, Laura is Ei's environmental adviser and was the Zero Waste Zones chair when the program launched in 2009.

Atlanta zero waste icon Steve Simon of Fifth Group Restaurants was the ultimate host for a phenomenal dinner at Lure. In October 2009 Steve was featured in the New York Times front-page article Nudging Recycling from Less Waste to None for his monumental achievement at Ecco, Atlanta's first dumpster-free restaurant! The dinner was a reunion as Steve spoke at a 2009 workshop Stephanie coordinated in Maryland.

On the second day Tim welcomed Stephanie to the GWCCA campus for a back-of-the-house tour of the established recycling practices at the nation's third largest convention center, the Atlanta Falcons home and 20-acre Centennial Olympic Park.  

Stephanie & Tim @
The GWCCA Recycling Center
A seasoned speaker, Tim is committed to a conference presentation, yet choosing among Tim's many accomplishments may prove difficult. In April 2012 the Georgia Dome hosted the 2013 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®, the second most popular sporting event across the globe. One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." The ZWA Blog post, Final Four: green footprints continue after the games ..., recaps the ALOC green success under Tim's sustainability leadership.

As the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Event Venue Pilot, the GA Dome is committed to refining recycling practices initiated as a ZWZ Founding Participant. The ZWA Blog post, Winning Recycling Seasons: Team Work Required!, chronicles game day recycling practices in-place during the first 2013 season Falcons home game. Hmmm.... maybe one presentation is too limiting for Tim!

Next on the introduction meeting agenda was lunch with Beth Bond of Southeast Green, the voice for the Southeast's sustainability successes. Outdoor dining at Fontaine's Oyster House served as the perfect spot to discuss the potential SE Green USZWBC media sponsorship.  

Bob & Stephanie @
The San Francisco Coffee House 
Formal business ended over coffee at the eclectic San Francisco Coffee House with Bob Peoples, Carpet America Recovery Effort executive director. Ei Chair Scott Seydel agreed to moderate a conference panel on carpet recycling. Challenges abound with carpet recycling and industry conferences are excellent vehicles for exploring creative solutions.

Keeping a low carbon footprint, Holly and Stephanie enjoyed a long walk through Atlanta's urban neighborhoods to discuss next action steps. The evening ended with dinner at locally owned Basil's, a short walk to Stephanie's hotel and Holly's condo.

The Ei FB album, 09-13 USZWBC ATL Visit, chronicles the busy two days in a pictorial recap.

Creating Value through Zero Waste is the perfect conference theme. As astute business leaders know, zero waste practices improve the bottom line; shifting from a waste management to material management perspective makes solid business sense. With early planning, the 2014 USZWBC Conference is staged for tremendous success with the conference participants, Atlanta and the zero waste industry benefiting.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Prisons: Valuable Resource for Recycling Refinement Systems?!

Closed TN State Prison
(filming site for The Green Mile)
Federal and state prison systems are a strong potential labor and facility resource for Recycling Refinement systems in the development phase. Within RR systems, existing recycling practices are evolved to maintain maximum material value with minimal energy expended.

Often prison grounds, both inside and outside the fence, contain underutilized buildings that may serve as recycling centers. With a captive pool of inmates eager to work, prisons are staged for promising public | private partnerships grounded in the WE Consciousness, where all parties benefit. Note the WE Consciousness was introduced in the ZWA Blog post, Zero Waste is a Team Sport.

When The Ohio State University achieved their incredible 98.2% recycling rate in the 2012 football season game, the state prison sorted, baled and sold the stadium-generated material.The OSU Zero Waste videoproduced by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, is a recycling program overview including the prison partnership.

Baled plastic film rebates
rival to exceed cardboard revenue
As documented in the ZWA Blog post, Source-Separation is Key to Maximum Recycling PROFITS, Elemental Impact is a strong proponent of on-site source-separation at the material generation point. Several years ago astute industry leaders launched a trend where in-house waste & recycling centers evolved into recycling profit centers; thus, the impetus of new industry standards. 

Adopting industry operating practices that improve the bottom line is necessary to maintain a competitive market edge and in alignment with management's fiduciary responsibility to corporate stockholders. The U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, along with many industry trade associations, share recycling success stories and support those embarking on the zero waste journey.

Ei is embarking on a city-wide recycling network template that makes solid business sense for the entire value chain. Cost-effective labor and warehouse space are key to the network development. The ZWA Blog If it was easy, it would already be done!, introduces the city-wide plastic film recycling template pilot, a first step in an overall recycling network.

UNICOR | Ei 2011 lunch
With a federal penitentiary located near downtown Atlanta, Ei hopes synergies are abundant with UNICOR -  a division of the Federal Prison Industries that seeks to employ and provide job skills training to the greatest practicable number of inmates confined within the Federal Bureau of PrisonsThe Ei | UNICOR strong relationship began with Ei founder Holly Elmore met Bob Tonetti - UNICOR's Recycling Business Group general manager - at the 2010 Georgia Recycling Coalition Conference. 

In August 2011 the Ei Team, including Ei Chair Scott Seydel, met with the UNICOR folks in Washington D.C. and laid the foundation for future projects. Ei strategizes with UNICOR on expanding penitentiary recycling programs beyond the current electronic recycling offered. 

UNICOR program manager Frank Hurst and Holly keep in close contact, both excited to discover a way to work directly together. In July 2013 Frank referred his long-time UNICOR co-worker and friend Fred Roach to Holly. Retired from UNICOR after 26 years of service, Fred joined TRICOR - Tennessee's prison employment agency. Here is a quick TRICOR overview:

TRICOR tractor @ dairy farm
MissionTo prepare offenders for success after release.

Vision: We are a preferred source of skilled labor for the workforce in Tennessee.

Core Values:

  • Customer-focused culture
  • People first
  • Lead by example
  • Right today, better tomorrow
  • Self-sufficiency

After several months of conference calls and strategy sessions, a group of Ei Partners, Supporters and pals converged on TN in late September to meet Fred, tour TRICOR prison operations and explore synergies | opportunities.

First on the agenda was an introductory meeting in Chattanooga with TRICOR & Ei Supporter Republic Services to plant seeds for future discussions. Boyd Leake of Community Environmental joined Holly and Fred for dinner to prepare for the following two tour days.

The dairy farm cattle were
healthy and happy
The next morning the entourage visited the TRICOR Dairy Farm on the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikesville. With 180 cattle, the hardworking dairy farm supplies milk for the approximately 20,000 inmates in the statewide system. After the farm tour, the group toured the recycling practices in place at the prison along with the food waste composting site.

Following the BCCC tour, Ei Partner Amy Moreland of Heritage Interactive Services joined the group for dinner in Nashville to discuss the dairy farm tour along with an overview of the next day's multiple tours. Nathan Jones of American Textile Recycling Services attended the dinner to learn how textile recycling may play a role in future programs.

In the morning the group toured the impressive Cook Chill plant that prepares the food for the entire prison system. Executive chef | production manager Nigel Cox runs an efficient operation and ensures maximum quality food is prepared within the limited budget. Although cardboard recycling is in-place, there are abundant opportunities to create a recycling profit center at the Cook Chill plant.

Next was a visit to TRICOR’s TN Logistics Center where the state auto license tags are produced by female prisoners. The energy in the facility was amazing - it was evident the woman were appreciative of their employment status.

Boyd, Amy & Fred
@ tours end
The final official tour was the TRICOR scanning center within the TN Prison for Women where the group observed the ladies dismantling and scanning a vast inventory of documents for electronic storage. In addition, a call center is set-up and awaiting a contract with private enterprise to begin operations. In-prison culinary and cosmetology programs help provide the female inmates with valuable skills for employment upon their release.

With the tours complete, the group dined at the Nashville Farmers Market  where they discussed next action steps. Fertile seeds are planted for endeavors on many fronts within and in partnership with the TN prison system.

For the a pictorial recap of the impressive tours, visit the Ei FB album, 09-13 TRICOR TN Tours.

Prison systems are an opportunity to create powerful private | public partnerships where ALL benefit, especially the inmates. Prison employment programs prepare released inmates with the skills necessary to live a fruitful, law-abiding life. The third leg of the sustainability stool - social consciousness - provides the program stability required for success.