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Friday, May 17, 2013

Zero Waste Success Requires WE Consciousness

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 environment. 

"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. 

Ei Partners @ Conference
names in Ei FB album
After top management buy-in, securing associate engagement supported by consistent, repetitive training was emphasized. Rewarding employees for program participation along with system improvement suggestions was key. On the other hand, peer pressure is an excellent motivator for the late adapters and nay sayers. Simplicity is best when developing program parameters and logistics.

On the second day the conference zeroed in on a food waste focus. The ZWA Blog post, Food Waste Focus at Zero Waste Conference, is a preview of the morning sessions, including the Elemental Impact panel, Zero Waste is a Team Sport.

Lori Scozzafava @ podium
After opening remarks by Gary Liss - USZWBC president & with Gary Liss & Associates, the U.S. Composting Council executive director Lori Scozzafava gave an impressive keynote presentation, State of Commercial Food Scrap Policies and Processes in the United States. After learning about the increase in available permitted food waste destination facilities, Lori fielded questions from the enthusiastic, inquisitive audience.

Next, the Greater Cincinnati Green Business Council hosted the "How the GCGBC is Working to Expand Regional Composting" moderated by Scott Hassell, sustainability manager for Fifth Third Bank at CB Richard Ellis. Cincy exemplifies the power of the WE Consciousness and what may be accomplished when all work together with a common vision. The WE Consciousness was introduced in the ZWA Blog post, Zero Waste is a Team Sport.

Scott Hassell @ podium
Committed to action, the GCGBC completed its first project: Workplace Composting Toolkit, which is available as a downloadable document on their site. Unique in its structure, GCGBC membership is by invitation with in-kind contributions and active participation required. Meetings are held every six weeks and members may only miss two meetings per year. There is no cash exchange; in fact, GCGBC does not have a bank account.

Joining Scott on the panel was Ann Powers - Rumpke Consolidated Companies, Bill Grosas - Luxottica, David Wimmel - Jones Lang LaSalle | Procter & Gamble and Grant Gibson - Compost Cincy, representing the spectrum of necessary players for success. Compost Cincy operates a well-managed composting facility permitted to accept food waste on a long closed landfill about ten miles outside of the city. Rumpke collects and hauls the food waste to Compost Cincy.

Luxottica validated the "lessons learned" discussed in the first day sessions with their impressive zero waste program, including food waste collection. The waste generators - companies like Luxottica - must shift their culture from waste to material management to engage necessary employee participation.  

GCGBC Panel - see FB album for names
Property management companies - Jones Lang LaSalle and CB Richard Ellis - hold the hauling contracts and are critical to a generator's ability to achieve zero waste. In general, the management companies purchase the common area recycling bins and contract with custodial services. It was empowering to witness the zero waste partnership inherent within the Jones Lang LaSalle | P&G and CB Richard Ellis | Fifth Third Bank relationships - the WE Consciousness at work!

The mid-morning breakout sessions continued the theme of "playing well together" for success.  Sue Beets - SBM Management corporate sustainability manager & USZWBC Board Member moderated the Property and Facility Management panel.  Ei Partner Bruce Buchan - CleanRiver Recycling Solutions CEO - joined Randy Van Winkle - SBM Management operations manager - and Richard Kiley - JanPak vice-president of national accounts - on the informative panel.

Gary Liss - Gary Liss & Associates & USZWBC president  - moderated the panel Retail & Reuse featuring Susanne Fredericks with Goodwill and MaryEllen Etienne with Reuse Alliance. Rounding out the breakout session, Ei founder Holly Elmore moderated a hospitality panel, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, of Ei Partners: Scott Lutocka (Piazza Produce), Chris Bradlee (BASF) and Perry Kranias (HMSHost - Tampa Airport).

Stephanie Barger, Holly Elmore &
Jim Larson; photo courtesy of
Scott Lutocka
For lunch attendees gathered in the main conference room for Jim Larson's empowering keynote presentation on the Food Donation Connection's wasted food donation program.  The ZWA Blog post, Reduce First, Donate Second and Compost Third, gives an overview of the tremendous amount of wasted food - edible food no longer suitable for service - that goes to composting or the landfill instead of hungry bellies.

Ei Partners Bruce Buchan &
Clark Seydel of Chemol
Inherent in the FDC business model is creating a scenario where all win with a food donation program. All is defined as the foodservice operator, facility who contracts for hauling services and the community. The ZWA Blog post: Food Waste Donation: Everyone WINS!, highlights FDC programs implemented in partnership with HMSHost at the Tampa Airport and Concord Mills, a Simon mall in Charlotte, NC. 

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.

Following lunch, the conference program included concurrent topic panels: Organic Recycling Technologies, Supply Chain Management and How to Communicate & Market the Zero Waste Message.  Break-out small group discussions led by USZWBC Board Members closed the excellent conference. 

Conference PPT presentations are available for download on the USZWBC 2013 Conference page. For a pictorial recap of the conference second day, visit the Ei FB album, 05-09-13 USZWBC Conference - Food Waste Focus.

Congratulations to USZWBC staff - Stephanie Barger, Gary Liss & Emily DeCremer - along with Board Members for orchestrating a phenomenal conference program.  Your work is important and making tremendous impact on creating a zero waste focus standard in business and community models. 


  1. Holly,

    Thanks for these great summaries of both days of the conference! You're right - the presentations were even better than we hoped. Everyone who attended got a wealth of insights on how businesses achieved Zero Waste, and how much money they saved. And it was great to be able to talk through issues and challenges in the social times and concurrent workshops.

    Many who attended are now working to join the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council. We hope your readers will consider doing that as well! Just go to:

    1. Thanks for your comment Gary! The conference was amazing and exemplifies the importance of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council. Beyond the tremendous success stories, the industry leaders were willing to share on a personal level during breaks, lunch, at the reception - the WE Consciousness in action!

      Folks, the USZWBC is a non-profit and requires membership & sponsorship to serve their valuable role. See Gary's above link to learn how you can support zero waste initiatives and the USZWBC. Thanks!!!!