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Sunday, July 27, 2014

SFCI targets post-consumer food waste

When the Zero Waste Zones launched in 2009 Atlanta was thrust into the national spotlight as the leader in the commercial collection of food waste for compost. As highlighted in the CNN story City aims for zero waste, the ZWZ focused on back-of-the-house (BOH) | pre-consumer food waste collection for compost.

Chef Ahmad Nourzad
w/ Affairs to Remember
"It was Easy - Thank You" was a common phrase from ZWZ Participants. Yet arriving to this point was NOT easy! It took a team of industry leaders who were willing to figure out by trial and error the new "easy" food waste collection practices. Kudos to Patrick Cuccaro of Affairs to Remember, Randy Childers of The Hyatt Regency, Steve Simon of fifth group restaurants, Executive Chef Frank Abbinanti of Levy Restaurants | Georgia World Congress Center, to name a few, for leading the industry in pre-consumer food waste collection!

With Elemental Impact's (Ei) ZWZ role complete, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) purchased the ZWZ in late 2012 to augment its ConServe Program. The ZWZ sale substantiated Ei as a powerful program creator. A common phrase in Ei founder Holly Elmore's many speaking engagements summarizes Ei's industry role:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

The August, 2013 IMPACT Blog article, Ei Emerges Strong from a Metamorphosis, announces the Ei triple-platform focus: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity. Within Recycling Refinement - moving beyond landfill diversion - post-consumer food waste collection is a primary focus, along with on-site source-separated material for recycling collection.

As ZWZ Participants, each of the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Pilots have strong pre-consumer food waste collection commitments. Below is a recap of the respective SFCI Pilot's goals for post-consumer food waste collection for compost or other state-permitted destinations other than landfill:

The 2014 | 2015 primary SFCI focus is post-consumer food waste collection.

As the SFCI - Shopping Center Pilot, Concord Mills in Charlotte, NC takes an industry leading role in mall food court BOH food waste collection, wasted food donation and plastic film recycling. The March 2013 ZWA Blog article, Bring the Possible out of Impossible, highlights the strong working relationship with Ei Partner HMSHost (food court concessionaire) and mall owner Simon Property Group.

Ray with his Orwak baler,
the workhorse of the plastic film
recycling program
In April, Concord Mills general manager Ray Soporowski hosted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IV Scaling Up Compost in Charlotte Grant Team for a tour of the food waste and plastic film recycling programs. During the tour, Ray agreed to pilot a post-consumer food waste collection program in the food court. The game plan is to meet in the summer to devise a game plan for implementation after the busy year-end holiday season. The ZWA Blog article, Charlotte Focuses on Food Waste with EPA Grant Support, recaps the April Charlotte visit.

The Ei Team visits Charlotte July 30 - August 01 for three days of powerful tours, meetings and strategy sessions. A meeting with Ray on the Concord Mills post-consumer food waste collection pilot is scheduled as a top priority.

In 2011 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, made a bold sustainable statement by including a provision in the Airport Concessionaire Request for Proposal requiring food vendors to use compostable packaging. 

Ei Chair Scott Seydel w/ Scott
DeFife of the NRA w/the
Going Green Airports Award
The provision announcement coincided with the Atlanta Airport stepping forward as the first SFCI Pilot. For an overview of the groundbreaking provision, visit the ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Sustainable Statement. The SFCI - Atlanta Airport won a 2011 Going Green Airports Award for the contract provision.

The Ei Atlanta Airport Compostable Packaging Information Packet page is an overview of the comprehensive document prepared by the SFCI Team in 2012 to educate airport concessionaires on the contract provision.

With the new contract completing its eighteen month implementation process, the Airport is informing concessionaires the compostable packaging provision is effective by year end. Liza Milagro - Atlanta Airport senior sustainability planner - is orchestrating a series of lunch and learn sessions to educate and prepare the Concessions Department for provision compliance.

Liza & Doug @ Atlanta Airport 
SFCI co-chair Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks works closely with Liza on developing a Compostable Packaging Products Manual to aid concessionaires in meeting the contract provision. The document focus is on the compostable packaging definition and how to communicate the packaging requirements within the concessionaire supply chain.

On Friday, August 8 Liza meets with the newly formed Ei Sustainable Materials ACTION Team chaired by Sarah Martell of innovia Films to tour the airport concession operations. Committee members Grant Braasch of NatureWorks, Rick Lombardo of Natur-Tec and Wendell Simonson of Eco-Products will share their expertise with Liza and offer their on-going support. 

The Ei Sustainable Materials ACTION Team is a team of industry experts from non-profits and private enterprise who provide support to foodservice operators eager to refine their food waste collection practices. One of the main committee tasks is to support the SFCI Pilots as they embark on post-consumer food waste collection programs.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, including the Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park, was the first ZWZ Participant and hosted the acclaimed 2009 press conference launching the program. A veteran to zero waste practices, the GWCC is eager to refine their recycling programs.  

Tim "picking the bowl" @
2013 Falcons Game
In early 2012 GWCCA director of sustainability Tim Trefzer gave the big YES to the Georgia Dome serving as the SFCI - Event Venue Pilot!  For the 2014 Atlanta Falcons season, the SFCI - Georgia Dome announces the following goals:
  1. Implement a post-consumer food waste collection program
  2. Source-separate material generated for on-site produced mini-bales
  3. Expand game day tailgate recycling initiatives in the GWCC-owned parking lots; explore recycling possibilities at privately held parking lots. 
Establishing baselines | fact finding for the business model development is the first action step and timing is impeccable with the upcoming August 08 & 23 pre-season Falcons home games. Future articles will document the planning and action necessary to accomplish the 2014 Atlanta Falcons Season Goals.

Food donation programs are integral to successful post-consumer food waste systems. In the original ZWZ Criteria, participants were required to donate excess food in accordance with the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Often there is prepared food deemed unservable due to quality standards yet meets the donation standards.

Perry with food ready for donation
Perry Kranias with HMSHost - Tampa International Airport is a leading pioneer in maximizing donated food in commercial foodservice operations. The ZWA Blog's most popular article (almost to 8,000 pageviews!), Reduce First, Donate Second, Compost Third, is an introduction to the Tampa Airport donation program. 

HMSHost contracts with the Food Donation Connection (FDC) on a national basis to orchestrate their donation programs. FDC is a NRA partner organization who specializes in the tax benefits generated by food donation programs. In partnership with YUM! Brands, FDC produced an excellent video, HMSHost and Food Donation Connection Food Rescue, on their system featuring the Tampa Airport donation program.

The post-consumer food waste goals are stated, action plans are established or in the formation stage, and the Ei Team is mobilized to provide guidance and support to industry pioneers. 

Ei's tagline Sustainability in ACTION is indeed in action for post-consumer food waste programs. Let the possible flow from the impossible while pioneers segue into heroes!

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