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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Zero Waste is a Team Sport, a powerful USZWBC conference panel

On May 8 & 9 the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council hosted their second annual conference in Cincinnati, OH with an impressive program of national and global leaders educating, entertaining and inspiring attendees. During day 1 sessions the focus was on overall zero waste success, mainly in the corporate arena. 

"Know Your Trash" emerged as a common theme among presenters.The ZWA Blog post, Know Your Trash, up close & personal, is an overview of the first day sessions. In addition to "Know Your Trash" several other common themes intertwined the presentations including keep it simple, shift corporate culture and engage employees through education and incentives.

Within the food waste focus on the second day, the common thread among presenters was the importance of working together - zero waste is achieved via team work.  The ZWA Blog post, Zero Waste Success Requires WE Consciousness, summarizes the powerful plenary sessions.

Ei panel:  Holly, Chris, Scott
& Perry
photo courtesy of Amy Moreland
As part of the morning break-out panels, Elemental Impact founder Holly Elmore moderated the Zero Waste is a Team Sport panel inspired by the ZWA Blog post, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, where the WE Consciousness was introduced.  Ei Partners Scott Lutocka - Piazza Produce, Chris Bradlee - BASF, and Perry Kranias - HMSHost - Tampa International Airport - shared their success stories grounded in team effort.

After Holly's opening remarks, Scott led the panel with his The Supply Chain's Critical Role in Zero Waste Success presentation.  In 2012 Piazza Produce surpassed the coveted 90% landfill diversion rate under Scott's leadership as facilities manager. A foodservice produce distributor, Piazza is both a customer and an industry supplier. During his talk, Scott explained how he worked with Piazza's produce suppliers to eliminate trash components within packaging. 

Herb box - no glue on the
Styrofoam insert!
photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
An excellent example is a Styrofoam panel was glued to the cardboard box used for shipping herbs. Piazza recycles Styrofoam and cardboard, yet the glue rendered the entire box trash. A simple call to the herb farmer resulted in elimination of the glue. All win: Piazza separates the Styrofoam and cardboard for recycling; the farmer experienced reduced material and labor costs by eliminating the gluing process.

Scott ended his excellent presentation with Piazza's role in their customer's zero waste programs. If products are shipped in non-recyclable packaging, the supplier prevents their customer from achieving zero waste, defined here as "zero." Scott is committed to a proactive approach to supporting their customer's recycling programs.

Frequently, produce is delivered in paraffin-based waxed cardboard that withstands water flow inherent within the cleaning and packaging process. Also, produce may be ice-packed for transport. As explained in the ZWZ Blog post, Waxed Cardboard Boxes = Landfill Destiny = $$ Lost, paraffin-based waxed cardboard is a contaminant for recycling and composting operations.

landfill-destined waxed
cardboard produce box
Along with Ei Partner Chemol, Scott is exploring how Piazza may work with their farmer suppliers to replace paraffin-based waxed coating with a recyclable | compostable alternative coating. Chemol produces a cost-effective wax alternative coating. Future posts will document the initiative challenges and successes.

Next on the panel, Chris presented on the Seattle Mariner's Sustainable Saturdays program at Safeco Field. Each Saturday home game features a sustainable theme, give-aways and fun contests for the fans. As a sponsor of the Seattle Mariner's zero waste program, BASF was instrumental in bringing the necessary community and corporate players together for a winning zero waste season.

But, where to start? With organics - food waste & yard waste - more than 50% of the Mariner's waste profile, beginning with an organics collection system for composting was a natural emphasis in program development. Cedar Grove, a Seattle-based composting facility, joined the team as the organics destination.

Chris during his presentation
A manufacturer of resin used in compostable products, BASF worked with Centerplate - the stadium foodservice concessionaire - on a compostable packaging line that aligned with their menu. Even a compostable peanut bag was introduced! Camp Fire USA troops "worked" the games to help the fans properly separate their materials into appropriate bins. As the stadium custodial contractor, Aramark is essential to ensure clean, source-separated material is aggregated for hauling to the recycling or composting destinations.

The Seattle Mariner's zero waste program mascots, Kid Compost and Captain Plastic, promote the Sustainable Saturday events and contests. Forterra, Seattle Public Utilities and Puget Sounds Starts Here give the local government and non-profit team flavor.

SUCCESS: In fiscal year 2011, 974 tons of material was recycled | composted with a $95,000 cost-savings! Since taking the first zero waste steps in 2005, the Mariner's estimate an overall $2,000,000 in cost-savings from their zero waste initiatives.To learn more about the BASF | Seattle Mariner's partnership, watch the four minute Sustainable Saturdays video.

Rounding out the panel, Perry shared the Tampa Airport's role in creating a food donation template for HMSHost's nearly 100 North American airport foodservice operations. Due to quality and customer selection standards, a food preparation overage is built into HMSHost's business model. The airport "grab 'n go" meals have a maximum 24 hour shelf life.

Perry during his presntation
Starting with the "grab 'n go" prepared food, HMSHost donates their delicious, nutritious sandwiches, salads, fruit and yogurt parfaits to a local children's center during the week.  Often, the HMSHost meal is the child's primary daily meal. On the weekend, the food is donated to a homeless shelter. Since the 2010 program launch, HMSHost Tampa Airport donated over 550,000 healthy, delicious meals to the community.

Moving beyond "grab 'n go" donations to food court restaurants, the HMSHost - Tampa Airport donates prepared, un-served food from their Quick Service Restaurants and seating dining establishments. Quality control standards at the restaurants result in a significant food donation opportunity.  For example, at Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen fried chicken has a 20 minute shelf life after leaving the fryer; at 21 minutes the tasty chicken is "un-servable" yet perfect for donation. 

Rev White collecting donated food
@ Concord Mills
photo courtesy of Brian Shetron
The ZWA Blog post, Concord Mills: The Power of WE in Action, is an overview of the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Shopping Mall Pilot - Concord Mills restaurant food donation program launch, including the challenges overcome. Concord Mills' - a Simon mall - food court is HMSHost operated.  Like Perry, Brian Shetron - CM HMSHost manager - is a leader who created the HMSHost restaurant food donation template.

Thanks to Perry, Brian and their teams' heroic efforts in building a strong, easy-to-follow template, over 65 HMSHost airports participate in a food donation program at some level.  

HMSHost partners with the Food Donation Connection for their national donation program.  FDC assists HMSHost determine the un-served food that meets the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, identifies the local recipients, and provides an excellent metrics platform that calculates the tax deduction associated with the donation. The ZWA Blog post, Food Donation: Everyone WINS!, explains how the community, the foodservice operator and the holder of restaurant's waste contracts benefit from food donation. As a company HMSHost donated over 1.2 million pieces of food year-to-date as of May 31 and is on track for 2.5 million pieces of food donated in 2013.

To learn more about HMSHost - Tampa Airport's leadership role in commercial food donation programs see the ZWA Blog's all-time most popular post, Reduce First, Donate Second & Compost Third.  

Stephanie Barger (USZWBC), Holly
& Jim
photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
Jim Larson with FDC was the conference luncheon keynote speaker. In his presentation, Jim featured HMSHost, Darden Restaurants among others in his powerful session on FDC's important program. 

The ZWA Blog post, Zero Waste Success Requires WE Consciousness, features Jim's keynote presentation. In partnership with YUM! Brands, FDC produced an excellent video, HMSHost and Food Donation Connection Food Rescue, on how their system works featuring the Tampa Airport donation program.

The Zero Waste is a Team Sport panel PPT presentations are available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page. For a pictorial recap of the panel, visit the Ei FB album, 05-09-13 USZWBC Conference - Food Waste Focus.

With industry leaders working together, moving beyond zero waste to a no-waste scenario is on the horizon. The WE Consciousness embraces synergies without regard to government, corporate or other boundaries.  Industry heroes like Piazza Produce, BASF & HMSHost bring the possible out of impossible, creating evolved industry operating standards.

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