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Saturday, October 12, 2013

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.

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