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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Zero Waste Makes Good Business Sense

As the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) official media partner, Elemental Impact (Ei) was prominent at the Fourth Annual National Zero Waste Conference hosted in Los Angeles May 6 & 7.  Sustainability leaders - including Ei Partners, Strategic Allies, Advisory Council Members & Pals - traveled from across the nation to learn, share and network with the Stars of Zero Waste.

Source-separation in action
at EFP
The ZWA Blog article, Stellar conference program highlights the "Stars of Zero Waste," is a comprehensive overview of the impressive program; the Business NOT as Usual: fine-tuning the zero waste journey, article chronicles the conference's impressive plenary sessions.

Arriving early for the conference, Ei Founder Holly Elmore met with Earth Friendly Products (EFP) Vice-President Sustainability and Education Nadereh Afsharmanesh for a tour of their zero waste-certified Garden Grove plant. Each of the five EFP plants across the nation are zero waste-certified via the USZWBC Zero Waste Certification Program (ZWCP). 

At EFP ALL materials are source-separated and bundled for recycling collection; EFP does not participate in single-stream recycling. In addition to larger, traditional items (cardboard, various plastics, & paper,) smaller, unique items (staples, toilet paper rolls & latex gloves) are separated by employees during daily operations for recycling collection. It was an empowering tour!

Christy (on left) with industry friends
Ei Advisory Council Member Christy Cook, Sodexo senior manager sustainability deployment and field support, along with four Sodexo sustainability coordinators, attended the conference. As first-time attendees, four of the five Sodexo team associates attended the pre-conference USZWBC Zero Waste Business Associate Scorecard Workshop. According to Christy, an immediate action item was a right-sizing analysis for waste & recycling bins as programs evolve. By using "right size" bins, waste | recycling collection charges are minimized.

Ei Partner CleanRiver Recycling Solutions (CRS) sponsored the workshop and CRS Founder & CEO Bruce Buchan presented on Zero Waste - The Three C's Approach. The ZWA Blog article, Evolution of the Three R's, introduced the Three C's: Culture, Communication, Collection, via a feature of Ricoh Electronics' presentation on the Five R's at the 2012 USZWBC Conference.

Following the workshop, the afternoon Loyola Marymount University Campus Sustainability, Comprehensive Recycling, Food Waste Diversion Tour was a walking visit of university zero waste practices-in-action.

Tom Lembo (CRS) finishes his
intro w/ Holly admiring him
Rounding out the pre-conference activities was the speaker | sponsor dinner where the "program" was self-introductions featuring the motivation for zero waste passion. It was a perfect venue for the zero waste stars to reconnect or meet via a personal story, many citing a grandparent's influence.

The timing was perfect for Title Sponsor LA Sanitation to host the National Zero Waste Conference. With the Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan under development, LA is transitioning to a new waste and recycling system for all businesses and large apartment complexes. 

As mentioned above, the Business NOT as Usual: fine-tuning the zero waste journey  article gives a synopsis of the conference opening plenary sessions. Honorable Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles gave a powerful Welcome followed by the plenary panel Discover the Zero Waste Stars of LA. Matt Peterson, LA chief sustainability officer, closed the LA-dedicated morning sessions with his keynote presentation on The Sustainable City pLAn: Transforming LA: Environment, Economy & Equity.

The first-day conference afternoon program included two concurrent break-out session series featuring a wide range of topics. In the first series, Holly moderated the Source-Separation Maximizes Material Value panel including Ei Partner Rick Lombardo, Natur-Tec director of business development - North America, Ei Supporter Tim Trefzer, Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) director of sustainability, and Nadereh with EFP.

Rick with his presentation props
Photo courtesy of  Scott Lutocka
After Holly's opening remarks, Rick led the panel with a presentation on the important role source-separation plays in maintaining material value in corporate operations. Intertwined within general education on materials in landfills, single-stream recycling, and overall source-separation, Rick focused on separating food waste for compost collection. 

Food waste is a valuable resource when collected for compost yet a major contaminant in waste streams, often rendering recyclable material landfill bound. In addition, food waste decomposing in a waste compactor smells, often requiring more frequent pulls to the landfill than justified by the tonnage. Thus, higher waste hauling charges are incurred.

Rick closed his presentation with dialogue on the state of our soils and the role compost plays in rebuilding soils. As reinforced by Kathy Kellogg of Kellogg Garden Products in her plenary panel presentation, Rick emphasized our abused soils are often not capable of producing nutrient-rich fruits & vegetables. Compost - nutritious food for the soil microbial communities - is necessary for rebuilding soils; healthy soils produce nutrient-rich foods for human and animal consumption.

Next Tim opened his excellent presentation with an overview of the facilities under the state-owned GWCCA umbrella: 
Tim during pre-conference
dinner introductions
Photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
As the Lead Pioneer in Ei's Source-Separated Material Recycling Template, the Georgia Dome is committed to source-separating materials generated at Falcons games and other stadium events. The ZWA Blog article, Remember: if it was easy, it would already be done!, is an update on template pilot progress-to-date.

Southern Roots, operated by Levy Restaurants, opened in early 2015 at the GWCC as a zero waste restaurant concept. With compostable packaging essential to post-consumer food waste collection, Tim requested Ei to educate the Levy staff on compostable packaging. 

First source-separate bale
@ Georgia Dome
On April 8, the Ei SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team, presented a two-hour Compostable Packaging Education Session to the Levy GWCC team. Rick took a leadership role within SMAT during the session preparation and inaugural presentation. The ZWA Blog article, Compostable F&B Packaging: essential to zero waste programs and soils rebuilding, introduces the SMAT education session.

Within his presentation, Tim addressed the zero waste challenges at large event facilities: 
  • Ever-changing events; only consistent events are Falcons games.
  • Limitations within service provider contracts (e.g. janitorial services).
  • Limitations within third party contracts - the conference | meeting planner contracts with a convention services company to stage the event and clean-up afterwards.
  • Impact of internal politics.
The waste generated at large events is astounding. Industry pioneers like the GWCC are navigating event challenges to create zero waste practices at convention centers and event facilities. Financial motivation will ground success: 1> on-site material source-separation is proven to generate profits at large facilities and 2> facility zero waste practices is often included in event RFP (request for proposal) criteria.

Naderah during her presentation
Nadereh was the final presenter on the panel with the EFP zero waste story. Education was a predominant theme along with infiltrating zero waste into the corporate culture. During the early days, Nadereh got up-close and personal with EFP waste via her own spontaneous literal dumpster dive. The discoveries spurred Nadereh into action-mode with shifts in purchasing to prevent trash and creation of source-separation practices throughout their five plants. Source-separation is a cost-saving endeavor for EFP.

Employee engagement is key to success. Frequent fifteen-minute education sessions are held to reinforce practices and maintain open dialogue. In addition to zero waste, EFP educates and promotes healthy lifestyles. Complimentary fresh fruit is available in plant break rooms and employees may enjoy their lunch in the on-site fruit, vegetable and flower garden.

Scott with Jeff Clark of the
National Restaurant Association
In the second breakout session, Ei Pal Scott Lutocka of Piazza Produce presented on the Solutions for Organics Diversion panel. In his Conquering the Challenges & Barriers to Commercial Compost presentation, Scott emphasized three main points for successful food waste collection programs:

  1. Conduct a waste audit to understand the amount of compostable materials generated.
  2. Identify legal or permitting issues to resolve or obtain.
  3. Locate a commercial food waste hauling vendor or create an alternative solution if none operate in your vicinity.
Ei Partner Tom Lembo of CRS spoke on the Pieces of Zero: Critical components for a successful Zero Waste program breakout session on the Zero Waste: The 3 C Approach. Refer to the article section on pre-conference workshops where The 3 C Approach is further discussed.

On the Supporting Actors: The critical role nonprofits can play in your Zero Waste plan breakout panel, Ei Strategic Ally Pat Spencer, Cork Forest Conservation Alliance - Cork ReHarvest executive director, spoke on their Natural Cork Recycling Program. In 2014, 100 tons (21 million corks) were collected through their expanding program.

Holly & friends @ reception
Photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
A lovely reception completed the first-day conference program with conversations continuing in a casual setting. Long-time friends reunited and new acquaintances became friends over a glass of wine and delicious food. In true Ei-style, a group of eighteen Ei Pals gathered for a nice dinner at a local restaurant.

In the afternoon concurrent breakout panels, Holly moderated the Zero-Waste at Multi-Tenant Properties panel. Among the multitude of zero waste challenges for multi-tenant facilities, the most common are 1> material generators do not control their waste | recycling collection and hauling, 2> landlord | tenant contractual obligations, 3> service provider contract provisions, 4> franchisee | franchiser contract terms (generally, consumer-facing food & beverage packaging related) and 5> space constraints.

Ei Partner Keter Environmental Services Chief Operating Officer Matt Hupp presented on the Landord and Tenant Perspective. During his tenure as the Director of Waste and Recycling Services at Simon Property Group, Matt was responsible for waste and recycling operations at over 300 shopping malls in 41 states. While in the position, Matt developed programs that increased diversion rates and operational efficiencies while decreasing overall program costs.

Matt during his presentation
At Keter Matt oversees the waste and recycling management for over 200 large retail, office, and mixed-use projects across the country. Committed to minimizing landfill-destined compactor pulls, Keter implements zero waste practices at managed properties where feasible. For malls, plastic film recycling and food waste collection for compost are the main material focus areas; in general, cardboard is separated as standard operating practice.

In his presentation, Matt listed tenant and landlord challenges. Per Matt, top tenant challenges are:  
  • Confusion on what is recyclable
  • Maximizing what is collected in a minimum amount of space
  • Lack of internal training
  • High turnover
  • Lack of control with services
Main landlord challenges are:
  • Waste | recycling haulers
  • Logistics | property layout
  • Multiple streams and use types: OCC (old corrugated cardboard), various plastics, and food waste 
  • Back-of-house not controlled
  • Tenant training and compliance
After a success story example, Matt emphasized tenant | employee education and use of clear, multi-lingual and visually oriented signage at the waste and recycling collection areas. Matt finished with the important role metrics reporting and calculating the cost-savings plays in successful zero waste programs.

Sue at podium
Following Matt, USZWBC President Sue Beets with SBM Site Services presented on SBM Management Services: Delivering More Than Cleaning and gave the service contractor's perspective. With more than 21 years of solid waste management and recycling experience, Sue has directly overseen more than 1.071 billion pounds of material recycled in her career. SBM provides janitorial services for 350 million square feet in 43 states, three countries and employs 7,000 individuals. In 2014, SBM documented $3.4 million in client cost-savings from zero waste programs.

A common thread across the board is the importance of ongoing employee training along with clear, multi-lingual and visually oriented signage at the waste and recycling collection areas. Sue advises to keep signage simple so building occupants may identify correct bins within seconds. Consistent color coding of signs and bins is another key to effective zero waste programs.

Throughout her presentation, Sue emphasized the role contract provisions play in SBM's ability to implement successful recycling programs at client facilities. The final Legal Provisions slide was the perfect segue to Ei General Counsel Greg Chafee's, a partner at Thompson Hine, Contract Provisions: A New Zero Waste Resource presentation.

In his slides, Greg gave an overview of three main contract areas for a multi-tenant facility: 1> buildings and facilities (landlord | tenant leases), 2> janitorial services and 3> waste hauling and recycling. In each category, Greg gave specific terms to address in the respective contracts along with examples where provisions supported zero waste practices. 

Matt & Greg enjoying the reception
In addition, Greg listed items to include in the RFP (request for proposal) and bid specification process. "One size does NOT fit all" was a strong point and Greg detailed areas to customize within a waste and recycling hauling contract to optimize cost-savings while maximizing recycling.

The closing slide "Zero Waste Requires Teamwork" epitomized the underlying theme of the panel with New Atlanta Stadium General Manager Scott Jenkin's quote:
 “Contract language is a key element that sets the appropriate expectations of all parties involved in any zero waste initiative. Zero waste is a team effort that requires every party to be on the same page.”
At the November 2014 Ei Partner Meeting, Greg presented on the role legal provisions play in establishing sustainable best practices. The ZWA Blog article, Contract provisions require teamwork necessary for zero waste success, announces Ei's foray into educating on contract provisions with Greg taking the leadership role.

KB & Rick at dinner
Photo courtesy of  Scott Lutocka
In a concurrent session, Ei Pal KB Kleckner, Frontline Industrial Consulting president, presented on the Making Zero Waste Happen: Changing Behavior for Total Participation panel moderated by Emily DeCremer, USZWBC zero waste associate. During his tenure as Mohawk Industries corporate vice-president, KB was the key executive leading sixteen manufacturing sites to “Mohawk Certified Zero Waste to Landfill.” 

KB made four major points in his Leading Zero Waste to Landfill to Reality on the Frontlines presentation: 
  1. Sustainability is integral to business and environmental success …and fuels financial success!
  2. Rigorous leadership results in focus, follow-up, innovation, and culture evolution.
  3. Culture is key to instilling common sustainability values, mission, purpose, and character. 
  4. Sustainability must be "personal," getting to the spirit of each person. 
Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute President Bridgett Luther presented on the Complement your Zero Waste Efforts with Additional Certifications panel during the afternoon breakout sessions. In her previous job as director of the California Department of Conservation - appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 - Bridgett was keenly aware of the gap between the collection of millions of tons of recycled cans and bottles and their actual reuse.

Holly with her camera
Photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
The Cradle to Cradle Certified Products (CCCP) program goes beyond traditional zero waste efforts and ensures products are designed for a perpetual life cycle, via reuse or redesign into another valuable product. Waste is a foreign concept within the Cradle to Cradle product design.

Within the CCCP program, product health is measured in accordance with five standards: 1> material health, 2> material reutilization, 3> renewable energy, 4> water stewardship and 5> social fairness. Bridget emphasized the CCCP standard is based on continuous improvement - getting started at BASIC is just the first step in getting to amazing.

Platforms like Cradle to Cradle, Circular Economy and Biomimicry catapult the global economy beyond zero waste to a World Without Waste. The CCCP is a MAJOR step towards educating global leaders product design is the foundation for necessary shifts in "business as usual."

As documented in the Business NOT as usual: fine-tuning the zero waste journey article, the conference closed with an empowering Our World Without Waste: The Global Crisis Suggests New Opportunities plenary panel.

The USZWBC Four-Year Club includes a handful of folks who attended each of the four USZWBC Conferences. Pictured from left to right: Randy Van Winkle (SBM), Ryan McMullan (Toyota), Stephanie Barger (USZWBC), Gary Liss (Gary Liss & Associates), Holly Elmore (Elemental Impact), Sue Beets (SBM) & Scott Lutocka (Piazza Produce). Rick Anthony and Bruce Buchan were not available for the photo.

Ei Strategic Allies Susan Collins, Container Recycling Institute executive director, and Jordan Figeiredo, End Food Waste founder, along with Ei Partner Sarah Martinez, Eco-Products sustainability maven, were prominent conference attendees.

The day following the conference, Marialyce Pederson,The Walt Disney Company senior representative, Disney Corporate Citizenship - Environment & Conservation, treated Holly to a tour of the Disney Burbank Studios. It was inspiring to see the food waste compactor in the dining facility loading area!

For a pictorial recap of the conference, visit the comprehensive Ei FB album, 2015 National Zero Waste Conference - "The Stars of Zero Waste." Thank you Scott Lutocka for your invaluable teamwork documenting the conference and contributing many of the album photos. 

Food waste compactor
@ Disney Burbank Studios
Congratulations to Stephanie Barger, Emily DeCremer and the USZWBC Board, staff and volunteers on an excellent conference!

Throughout the presentations, a common theme emerged: zero waste makes good business sense. Beyond cost-savings and revenue generation, organizations enjoy a multitude of intangible benefits including honors | awards, improved employee morale, answering consumer demands and valuable marketing | public relations opportunities.

... remember beyond zero waste is a World Without Waste!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Business NOT as usual: fine-tuning the zero waste journey

Stephanie Barger & Gary Liss
of the USZWBC
The U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) hosted their fourth Annual National Zero Waste Conference in Los Angeles at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel on May 6 & 7, with pre-conference workshops and tours on May 5. Sustainability leaders traveled from across the nation to learn, share and network with the Stars of Zero Waste. The ZWA Blog article, Stellar conference program highlights the "Stars of Zero Waste," gives a comprehensive overview of the impressive program.

At the 2014 National Zero Waste Conference hosted in Atlanta, the evolution of the zero waste industry was evident in the plethora of success stories. Industry standards, grounded within the Zero Waste Certification Program (ZWCP) launched in 2013, were established by the many pioneers receiving certification for their comprehensive materials management programs. In addition, the Zero Waste Business Associate (ZWBA) certification was launched to train professionals on zero waste practices and learn how to achieve zero waste certification at their facilities.

The ZWA Blog article, USZWBC Conference Theme: Zero Waste Evolution, recaps the amazing conference as well as chronicles the zero waste evolution since the inaugural 2012 conference. 

Throughout the 2015 conference presentations, it was evident the zero waste industry evolution continues via fine-tuning of practices and standards. The progress was inspiring as conversations focused on necessary shifts in packaging, how the supply chain impacts the corporate and personal consumer, hard-to-recycle items, and the importance of maintaining maximum value of generated materials.

Scott Lutocka during his
introductions at dinner
At the pre-conference speaker | sponsor dinner the "program" was self-introductions featuring the motivation for zero waste passion. It was a perfect venue for the zero waste stars to reconnect or meet via a personal story, many citing a grandparent's influence.

The timing was perfect for Title Sponsor LA Sanitation to host the National Zero Waste Conference. With the Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan under development, LA is transitioning to a new waste and recycling system for all businesses and large apartment complexes. The goals of the new system - a franchise program called Zero Waste LA - include:
  • Higher Recycling (90% diversion from landfills by 2025) 
  • Fair Customer Rates 
  • Reduced Street Impacts & Cleaner Air
  • Superior Customer Service
Official conference festivities opened with a profound Welcome by Honorable Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles. It was empowering to witness the Mayor's core commitment to zero waste public policy evolving into "business as usual." 

Following the Mayor, the plenary panel Discover the Zero Waste Stars of LA moderated by LA Director Infrastructure Services Greg Good educated on LA zero waste successes and programs under-development. The panel featured LA key stakeholders: Enrique Zaldivar, LA Bureau of Sanitation director, David Piper, LA Unified School District director and Timothy Eng, Kaiser Permanente project manager.
Stephanie Barger with
Matt Peterson

LA Chief Sustainability Officer Matt Peterson closed the LA-dedicated morning sessions with his keynote presentation. Prior to joining LA, Matt was co-founder & president of Global Green USA for 19+ years. During Matt's Global Green tenure, the Coalition of Resource Recovery was launched first in New York City and later expanded to a national platform. 

Matt presented on The Sustainable City pLAn: Transforming LA: Environment, Economy & Equity released by the Mayor on April 8, 2015.  A comprehensive plan, the Mayor says:
It is important to emphasize that the pLAn is not just an environmental vision - by addressing the environment, economy and equity together, we will move toward a truly sustainable future.
Another aspect of zero waste fine-tuning is integration within sustainability, economic and social consciousness public policy. The comprehensive pLAn accomplishes the necessary integration for long-term, sustainable success.

Source-reduction and reuse of materials is at the foundation of effective zero waste programs. Though easy with a hindsight lens, determining how to reduce and reuse can be challenging, especially when the value chain is involved. 

Completing the morning program, Reuse Institute CEO MaryEllen Etienne moderated the Exploring Source Reduction and Reuse plenary panel. A powerhouse team from The Walt Disney CompanyHewlett Packard and IFCO shared their respective journeys to successful programs.

Marialyce Pederson at podium
In her presentation, Marialyce Pederson - Disney senior representative, corporate citizenship - shared how Disney reuses film sets and repurposes the plethora of character costumes from movie production and Disney Parks. Laundry lint from washing cotton towels and bed linens is composted at the zero waste-certified Circle D Ranch.

As the first-day lunch keynote, Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO) co-founder, explained his company's pioneer role in environmentally sound operating policies. BAMCO provides foodservice to corporations, universities, and museums in 32 states. Complementing its longstanding food-waste reduction efforts, BAMCO was an early partner of the Food Recovery Network and has three dozen cafés Food Recovery Certified.

In his closing remarks, Fedele addressed food quality issues: GMO's - they are in everything from baking soda to canola oil, Salmon - there is no such thing as sustainably farmed salmon; purchase wild-caught or not at all, and Meat Consumption - reduce the centerplate (meat) & increase vegetables & starch; BIG step in addressing food crisis.

Afternoon sessions launched with the Hard-to-Recycle Packaging plenary panel moderated by Tom Wright of Sustainable Bizness. Associates from the Carton Council, Upstream and Recycling Analytics & Titus MRF Services (Titus) shared their expertise on the panel. Mike Centers of Titus educated on how MRF (material recovery facilities) miss approximately 20% of the single-stream material delivered. Secondary MRF may further sort the remnant material; density is key: it takes four primary MRFs to support one secondary MRF.

Holly Elmore taking photos
during breakout sessions
photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
The remainder of the first-day conference program was filled with two concurrent break-out session series. A wide range of topics were addressed in the panels: Getting Down & Dirty: A practical guide to Zero Waste audits,What Waste Haulers & Recyclers Wish Businesses Knew, Green Labeling: What does that label mean and why should I careTaking a Lesson from Higher Education on Environmentally Preferred PurchasingSource-Separation Maximizes Material ValueMarketing your Zero Waste EffortsSolutions for Organics DiversionMeasuring What CountsSupporting Actors: Critical role non-profits play in your Zero Waste PlanPieces of Zero: Critical components for a successful Zero Waste program.

After the first-day program closed, conference attendees enjoyed a lovely reception and appreciated the opportunity to continue conversations in a casual setting. Long-time friends reunited and new acquaintances became friends over a glass of wine and delicious food. Groups gathered for dinner at various downtown restaurants.

USZWBC President Sue Beets of SBM Management Services (SBM) welcomed attendees to the second day along with thank yous to the event sponsors, volunteers and others who contributed to conference success. Dual keynote speakers Eric Lombardi, Eco-Cycle International executive director, and Michelle "Mitch" Hedlund, Recycle Across America (RAA) founder & executive director, gave excellent presentations on fine-tuning the zero waste industry.

Eric Lombardi at podium
photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
Eric emphasized the importance of the business community and corporate citizens coming to the front lines for zero waste policy and program development. The local chambers of commerce along with business associations were specifically cited as important players for effective city-wide zero waste platforms. Social enterprise was highlighted as a strong vehicle for necessary shifts in "business as usual."

Using her over 20 years of experience in marketing, communications and branding, serving Fortune 500 companies as well as small to mid-sized companies, Mitch founded RAA in 2010. RAA promotes standardized recycling labels as a major step in alleviating consumer confusion, a leading cause of contamination in public and corporate facilities. RAA partners with Green | Blue Institute's How To Recycle product labeling campaign.

In her presentation, Mitch used a series of standard protocol, including "Stop Signs," created to alleviate confusion while promoting public safety. The "Stop Sign" was once a novelty that flowed into an accepted standard; RAA is committed to evolving consistent recycling bin signage into common practice. Per Mitch, "Do not wait for government to make changes; standards bring safety and health."

Mitch Hedlund during
dinner introductions
Following the keynote speakers Sierra Nevada sustainability manager Cheri Chastain moderated the USZWBC Certification panel. As the first Platinum Zero Waste-Certified business, Sierra Nevada is an industry leader and Cherie was perfect to moderate the panel. Associates from Disneyland ResortsFetzer Vineyards and Raytheon Company presented on their certification experiences and accomplishments.

A prominent zero waste certification program is an effective tool for grounding emerging protocol into standard industry practices, infiltrated with integrity. For example, incineration was a hot topic at the inaugural 2012 National Zero Waste Conference as "waste to energy" was considered recycling by a minority. Subsequently, incineration was classified equivalent to landfill in the ZWCP and is no longer a discussion point.

The ZWA Blog article, Third Party Certification Edges Industry Towards a Zero Waste Economy, introduces the ZWBCP, honors the pioneers who earned the first certifications and lists program parameters.

Prior to lunch, USZWBC Executive Director Stephanie Barger gave the USZWBC 2015 State of Zero Waste and facilitated a participatory Next Steps for USZWBC discussion session. 

Elvis Nolasoc speaking while
Mitch Hedlund & Nicole Starr listen
During the tasty vegetarian lunch, Mitch moderated the Moving the Needle to Zero Waste through media and celebrity support plenary panel featuring Nicole Starr of Participant Media | Pivot TV and Actor Elvis Nolasco of ABC's American Crime. It was empowering to learn Elvis' story of overcoming challenges in his youth along with his passion for zero waste. 

Celebrities and media reach the consumer in avenues not available to local, state and federal governments and corporations. Consumer consciousness shifts are necessary for zero waste communities to emerge from current wasteful conditions. In RAA campaigns, Mitch brings celebrities to the forefront with "let's recycle right" endorsements.

As zero waste moves from an emerging to a maturing industry, strong leadership is essential to ensure integrity is maintained. Albertsons|Vons Manager Refuse & Recycling Curt Smith moderated the Leadership: Directing the Zero Waste Journey plenary panel during the second day afternoon sessions. Executives from Kellogg Garden ProductsToyota Motor Sales and Ingersoll Rand shared their respective roles in guiding standard industry practices development.

While at the podium, Kathy Kellogg of Kellogg Garden Products spoke on the state of the soils, the valuable role compost plays and how our soils are often not capable of producing nutrient-rich fruits & vegetables.

The mid-afternoon program consisted of the following concurrent break-out sessions: Zero Waste at Multi-Tenant PropertiesConnecting National Chains to Local ProgramsMake Your Event Shine - Zero Waste Events, Big & SmallMaking Zero Waste Happen: and Changing Behavior for Total Participation,and Complement your Zero Waste Efforts with Additional Certification.

Thanks to USZWBC volunteer Jason Sanders of EcoSafe Zero Waste the conference walked the zero waste talk. Jason educated hotel staff on food waste collection for compost practices. 

Jason Sanders honoring hotel staff
Each morning and afternoon, the kitchen staff received a brief training on the how’s and why’s to composting and recycling. The conference was the hotel's first food waste collection experience.

Near the conference close, Jason gathered the key kitchen and other back-of-the-house staff to the stage for recognition. Hotel General Manager Wanda Chan joined the staff on stage to add hotel management kudos. The audience gave the hotel staff a standing ovation!

A keynote discussion, Our World Without Waste: The Global Crisis Suggests New Opportunities moderated by Christine Nguyen with the USZWBC, officially closed the conference's stellar program. Eric Lombardi was joined by Richard (Rick) Anthony of Richard Anthony Associates, a consulting firm that focuses on Zero Waste planning, and Captain Charles Moore, Algalita Marine Research founder and discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

Captain Charles Moore adorned
in plastic pollution from oceans
In late March, Charles was the closing keynote presenter at The Plastic GYRE Symposium hosted in Atlanta. The ZWA Blog article, Plastic GYRE Symposium: Artists, Scientists and Activists Respond, gives an overview of Charles' similar eye-opening presentation on the stark reality of plastic pollution in the oceans.

The closing discussion emphasized humanity may no longer live within "business as usual" mode. Beyond fine-tuning, an overhaul of our civilization's foundation is necessary to navigate within and beyond the global trash crisis. Consistent with his earlier keynote presentation, Eric sent a call-to-action for corporate citizens to join the front lines on creating viable pathways to a World Without Waste.

For those who arrived a day early, there were substantial pre-conference activities including the morning Achieving Zero Waste at Colleges and Universities Workshop sponsored by CleanRiver Recycling Solutions

Tom Lembo & Bruce Buchan
of  CleanRiver
Within the program CleanRiver founder Bruce Buchan spoke on Zero Waste - The Three C's Approach. The ZWA Blog article, Evolution of the Three R's, introduced the Three C's: Culture, CommunicationCollection, via a feature of Ricoh Electronics' presentation on the Five R's at the 2012 USZWBC Conference.

Running concurrent in the morning, the Zero Waste 101 Workshop was tailored for those embarking on the journey. The introductory workshop provided the basics for starting or evolving recycling programs. In the afternoon Loyola Marymount University Campus Sustainability, Comprehensive Recycling, Food Waste Diversion Tour was a walking tour of the impressive zero waste practices-in-action.

An all-day ZWBA Scorecard Training 101 Course was intended for those interested in pursuing the professional ZWBA Certification, though open to anyone interested in learning more about the ZWCP.

The USZWBC Four-Yr Club
The USZWBC Four-Year Club includes a handful of folks who attended each of the four USZWBC Conferences. Pictured from left to right: Randy Van Winkle (SBM), Ryan McMullan (Toyota), Stephanie Barger (USZWBC), Gary Liss (Gary Liss & Associates), Holly Elmore (Elemental Impact), Sue Beets (SBM) & Scott Lutocka (Piazza Produce). Rick Anthony and Bruce Buchan were not available for the photo.

For a pictorial recap of the conference, visit the comprehensive Ei FB album, 2015 National Zero Waste Conference - "The Stars of Zero Waste."  Thank you Scott Lutocka for your invaluable teamwork documenting the conference and contributing many of the album photos. 

The ZWA Blog Zero Waste Makes Good Business Sense  article features the conference breakout sessions along with Ei’s strong conference participation.

Congratulations to Stephanie, Emily DeCremer and the USZWBC Board, staff and volunteers on an excellent conference!

It is amazing to witness the zero waste progress over the past years. Within the progress is a knowing the journey is merely beginning. Industry pioneers are enthusiastic to move beyond business as usual and into the frontier of a World Without Waste