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Monday, April 11, 2016

The Zero Waste Journey: Supply | Value Chain, WE Consciousness & Power of Consumer Demand are Integral to Success

In late March Professor Basak Kalkanci at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business invited Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore to give a 60-minute lecture on the Supply Chain's Role in Zero Waste to the Supply Modeling undergraduate class. It was a perfect opportunity for Holly to consolidate many topics into one powerful presentation.

ISM March 2013 cover
The Journey to a Zero Waste Supply Chain written by Holly was the featured Sustainability Column article in the Inside Supply Management (ISM) March 2013 issue.  ISM is published by the Institute for Supply Management, a national trade association. The ZWA Blog article, Supply Chain Critical to Zero Waste Success, gives an article overview along with specific examples.The article pdf is available for download on the Ei Print Media page. The article served as a starting point for Holly's presentation preparation.

After establishing Ei's prominent role in the ground breaking Zero Waste Zones followed by the Sustainable Food Court Initiative, Holly asked the question: "What is Zero Waste?" In unison with the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC), Ei answers the question with the following zero waste parameters:
  • Defined as a journey with no pre-determined destination.
  • Begins with the goal of 90% diversion of material from landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy)) and the environment.
  • Requires working with Supply Chain:
    • Shift “trash packaging" to recyclable material.
    • Addresses waste within Supply Chain operations.
Zero waste program success requires a consciousness shift on numerous levels. In simplistic terms, the following three initial shifts are necessary to create a World Without Waste:

First, the "pay and forget" era is over; the consumer must take responsibility for the by-products generated from their activities and ensure materials are reused or recycled. The Ei Recycling Refinement platform dives deeper into the holographic approach necessary to ensure integrity is maintained throughout the entire material management process.

Ei Team on the Farm AD Tour
Second, waste management is replaced by materials | by-products management. In nature there is no "waste"; it is time to emulate nature's perpetual life cycle system. The ZWA Blog post, Perpetual Life Cycle System (PLSC)- Simplicity is Key, introduces PLCS using an on-farm anaerobic digester as an example following nature's no-waste baseline.

Third, the "I" focus is replaced with the "WE" focus. The impact of our actions extends to the entire community and beyond; collective action accomplishes more profound results than singular effort. By working together, synergies are unlocked, unnecessary boundaries (including competitive barriers) disintegrate, and creative energies catapult possibilities into grounded realities.

Zero waste initiatives offer tangible opportunities to incorporate the consciousness shifts into standard operating practices. Once a company accepts the first two shifts, action is ready to begin within the third shift. The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, introduces the WE Consciousness at work in successful zero waste programs.
As it travels the zero waste journey, a company realizes the remaining "trash" going to landfill is predominantly transport packaging. Thus, it is time to invoke the Power of Consumer Demand and work closely with the Supply Chain. 

In the ZWA Blog article, Consumer Demand: A Powerful Voice to Affect Change, the following facts are introduced:

FACT: Manufacturing companies are in the business of making products that consumers, whether corporate or personal, will purchase at a fair market value.

FACT: Manufacturers must make a reasonable profit and adapt to shifts in consumer demand to remain a viable business.  

FACT: The consumer, whether personal or corporate, may use the power of demand and spending dollars to influence items manufactured along with the related packaging and production practices.

Ei Team @ Piazza Tour
Scott is on far right
Shifts in transport packaging revolve around reducing the volume of material used and evolving from "trash" to "material packaging." With the easy win packaging shifts, ALL win as the supplier reduces theirs shipping costs, the consumer may reuse | recycle packaging and landfill bound trash is reduced. By reducing landfill hauls, the company saves dollars on tipping | pull charges. In addition, landfill life is extended - a big concern for many communities.

Working within the WE Consciousness, Piazza Produce Facilities Manager Scott Lutocka directly connected with a California-based herb farmer regarding their produce packaging. With the Styrofoam cushion | insulation glued to the cardboard box, the shipping box was rendered trash. Even though Styrofoam and cardboard are recyclable individually, collectively the box was trash due to the adhesive.

Simple solution: stop using glue to adhere the Styrofoam to the box! The herb farmer WINS with lower labor and product cost; Piazza wins with a recyclable box, instead of trash. The community wins with less material in the local landfill. Note Piazza sends the Styrofoam to a manufacturing plant that makes picture frames sold in Walmart.

the now recyclable herb
transport box
When feasible Piazza Produce delivers product in reusable containers and works with customers on collection via the following produce delivery. Piazza donates other hard plastic boxes to the Gleaners Food Bank of Indianapolis for reuse. When spent, the reusable boxes are dismantled to separate different materials for recycling.

... and Piazza Produce is Gold USZWBC Zero Waste Facility Certified! Piazza is the only zero waste foodservice distributor in the nation and a true industry pioneer thanks to Zero Waste Warrior Scott Lutocka!

The previously mentioned Zero Waste is a Team Sport article features an impressive tour of Piazza's zero waste operations. For a pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB album, 09-24-12 Piazza Produce Zero Waste Tour.

Atlanta-based Ted's Montana Grill (TMG), a national restaurant group with over 50 locations, takes their sustainability initiatives seriously. With the recent "no bare hand" contact mandates across the country, disposable gloves segued into a major purchasing item. Working within the WE Consciousness, TMG Purchasing & Sustainability Manager Paula Owens contacted their glove supplier regarding the packaging. By using a smaller cube footprint, the overall packaging was reduced for the same glove quantity. 

Result: a 7,850 pound reduction in packaging material delivered to TMG!

... and TMG is a loyal Piazza Produce customer for their Indiana-based restaurants!

clever toilet paper core
recycling container
Working within the WE Consciousness is standard operating practice at Earth Friendly Products. Under the direction of EFP Vice-President of Sustainability and Education Nadereh Afsharmanesh, zero waste action is interwoven within the corporate culture. In the facility bathrooms, there are small recycling containers next to the sink for the toilet paper cores.

Understanding zero waste success includes using "waste-free" raw materials in their manufacturing process, EFP established a Supplier Code of Conduct (SCC) including a sustainability questionnaire. Negative questionnaire answers require an explanation. With WE Consciousness at its core, EFP trains their suppliers on zero waste practices. Nadereh visits vendor manufacturing plants to witness practices in-place and provide helpful recommendations.

The EFP SCC requires vendors to deliver products in sustainable packaging, with no Styrofoam permitted. EFP works with vendors to create reusable packaging delivery systems. As a result of EFP's strong vendor relationships, a major supplier switched from adhesive labels to recyclable labels. 

... and EFP's five U.S. plants are Platinum USZWBC Zero Waste Facility Certified!

Nadereh & associate with
plant recycling bins
The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste Makes Good Business Sense, chronicles the Fourth Annual National Zero Waste Business Conference breakout sessions. Nadereh was a panelist on the Source Separation Maximizes Material Value moderated by Holly. The article opens with a feature of Holly's EFP plant tour hosted by Nadereh. For a pictorial recap of the tour, visit the comprehensive Ei FB album, 2015 National Zero Waste Conference - "The Stars of Zero Waste.

With the above Piazza Produce, EFP and TMG "working with the Supply Chain" examples, several common points emerge:
  • Sustainable packaging shifts impact the vendor’s entire customer base.
  • Industry pioneers who take leadership roles are important for necessary supply chain | transport packaging evolution.
  • Economics are a key component in zero waste | sustainability programs. In most cases, zero waste practices - including packaging evolution - improve the bottom line for the vendor and purchasing company.

Within the USZWBC Zero Waste Facility Certification, the Supply Chain is addressed within the Zero Waste Purchasing category with the following point options:
  • Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) policy.
  • Durable goods over disposables.
  • Sustainably produced items.
  • Used, refurbished goods preferred.

In the ZWA Blog article, Third Party Certification Edges Industry Towards a Zero Waste Economy, the Zero Waste Facility Certification is introduced. In addition, the article stresses the invaluable role third party certifications play by maintaining integrity within an emerging industry and expanding standard operating practices boundaries.

As industry pioneers gain momentum in their zero waste success, the time arrived to shift focus from the Supply Chain to the Value Chain. 

In the Value Chain focus the entire spectrum of those impacted by respective products, including customers, the community, and the environment, are addressed with equal concern. For product | packaging evolution success, solutions must make good business sense for the entire value chain.

From 2011 through 2014, Ei hosted the Annual Sustainable Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain meetings at Global Green's Washington D.C. offices. Trade association and non-profit executives from the entire sustainable food & beverage packaging Value Chain met each December for a day of vibrant dialogue and sharing. As an emerging industry, it was important to capture and nurture synergies among the powerful meeting participants.

F&B Pkging Value Chain Mtg
Group photo @ final meeting
Mission Accomplished: the original meeting intention was to harness industry synergies among the complementary organizations. During the 2014 presentations, it was empowering to witness the tremendous synergies, along with many joint pilots | programs, among the meeting participants. Beginning in 2015, the group convenes with a two-hour conference call rather than a full-day meeting.

Within the Value Chain focus, the following components emerge:
  • Industry takes responsibility for their product impact on their customers, the community and the environment.
  • WE Consciousness is at work when value chain representatives use synergies to create sustainable solutions.
  • Focus is economic, product quality | safety, and community | environmental health driven.
At the foundation of a balanced Value Chain focus is the WE Consciousness | Power of Consumer Demand with integrity intertwined within and without. Zero waste companies strive to create a World Without Waste via the following actions:
  • ensure products delivered to their facilities are “waste-free” in the manufacturing process and transport packaging.
  • manufacture, assemble and | or distribute in a "waste-free" environment.
  • sell products in recyclable | reusable packaging causing “no waste” for their customers.
Rather than seeking to "achieve zero waste," industry pioneers use their leadership role to expand boundaries and definitions of waste. Thus, the journey continues!  


NOTE: Holly's Supply Chain's Role in Zero Waste PPT presentation is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Tune in" to Zero Waste and Catch Austin's Beat to a World Without Waste

On June 1 - 4, 2016 sustainability leaders from across industry boundaries will converge on Austin, Texas for the Fifth Annual National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) hosted by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC). With the "Tuning in" to Zero Waste" theme, the conference program showcases how zero waste companies and communities top the charts in dimensions beyond landfill diversion.

The Fifth Annual NZWBC is the culmination of four powerful conferences beginning with the inaugural 2012 event hosted in Costa Mesa, CA. Next was a visit to the Midwest in Cincinnati followed by the Southeast in Atlanta. In year four, the NZWBC returned to the West Coast when the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation stepped forward as a key conference sponsor.

City of  LA opening plenary panel
At the 2015 NZWBC in Los Angeles, the Stars of Zero Waste shined! The ZWA Blog article Business NOT as usual: fine-tuning the zero waste journey chronicles the conference's impressive plenary sessions; the Zero Waste Makes Good Business Sense article features the conference breakout sessions along with Elemental Impact’s strong conference participation and Official Media Partner role.

... and the City of Austin "tunes in" to zero waste at the 2016 NZWBC! Austin Resource Recovery, a City of Austin service, stepped forward as the NZWBC Host & Title Sponsor.

The ZWA Blog article, 2016 Zero Waste Conference: "Tuning In" to Zero Waste, announces the 2016 NZWBC and features keynote speaker U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator - Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Mathy Stanislaus.

Austin takes zero waste seriously and is a perfect city to host the milestone Fifth Anniversary NZWBC. In late 2011, the Austin City Council unanimously approved adoption of the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan (ARRMP) and passed the Universal Recycling Ordinance. A culmination of two years of research, stakeholder engagement and community input, the ARRMP sets the stage for the Department’s programs and services for the next 30 years and beyond.

The aim is to reach the City Council’s goal of Zero Waste by 2040, which means keeping at least 90 percent of discarded materials out of the landfill. The ARRMP outlines aggressive milestones to ensure that goal is achieved on time, if not sooner.

For an overview of the staged-in ARRMP, coupled with substantial City support, watch the fun, informative five-minute video:

Complementary to the AARMP, the Austin re-Manufacturing Hub (Hub) is a 105 acre eco-industrial park located on a former City landfill. In July 2014 the City of Austin accepted a $1 million grant from the U.S Economic Development Administration to fund the water and sewer infrastructure necessary for the Hub. 

Understanding zero waste is beyond diversion from landfill, Austin is committed to keeping the metro area recyclable material local for use as a manufacturing raw material. The Hub is expected to bring 1,000 green jobs to Austin and leverage more than $30 million in private investment.

As a true industry leader, the City of Austin is enthusiastic to share their successes, along with work-in-progress, and learn from the powerful industry leaders attending the NZWBC. ARRMP Director Bob Gedert substantiates the City's sentiments with the following quote:
Bob Gedert
The City of Austin welcomes the opportunity to host the 5th Annual National Zero Waste Business Conference. With a goal to reach Zero Waste by 2040, we hope to inspire as well as learn from other industry experts and to further explore solutions and contributions to creating value for businesses through Zero Waste. Other goals are to develop new markets for recycled materials and have producers of the goods we consume take more responsibility for end-of-life management of their products.” 
In alignment with prior conferences, the 2016 program is local in flavor yet national in focus. Following welcoming remarks, Whole Foods Market (WFM) Global Leader for Sustainable Facilities Kathy Loftus is the conference opening keynote speaker.

Austin-based WFM takes a leadership role in supporting sustainable, local food systems. The 5-STEP® ANIMAL WELFARE RATING system outlines specific husbandry and management practices that promote farm-animal welfare. Consumers benefit by additional information about the meats they buy and farmers benefit by support within the WFM network.

In her keynote, Kathy will address how WFM's leadership role in animal husbandry, local, sustainable agriculture and their stringent GMO policy is good for business. In addition, the local communities and environment benefit by WFM's proactive role in evolving current food systems. Kathy's keynote will inspire companies to take leadership roles in their respective industries and raise the bar on acceptable operating practices and product standards.

Continuing with the local flavor, City of Austin Senior Waste Diversion Planner Teresa Chapman moderates the conference opening plenary panel Tuning in to Austin's Zero Waste efforts. Featuring industry and civic executives with a leadership role in Austin's zero waste journey, the panel includes: City of Austin Recycling Economic Development Liaison Natalie Betts, AT&T Executive Conference Center General Manager Ted Hibler and College Houses Cooperative Operations Director Ken Mills.

Sodexo Team @ 2015 NZWBC
Christy Cook on left
The conference format includes a morning keynote speaker followed by a plenary panel, networking session and concurrent panels before lunch. In the afternoon the program includes a plenary panel, another networking session along with concurrent panels. On the first conference day, attendees are treated to a two-hour happy hour reception before heading out to experience Austin dining.

Food waste is a prominent theme in the conference program. The first-day afternoon plenary panel, Food - Love it ... but do not waste it, is moderated by Dana Gunders, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior scientist. In her monumental 2012 NRDC Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill Issue Paper, Dana brought the food waste crisis to the forefront of mainstream media and consciousness.

Guided by Dana, the panelists share their vast food waste reduction expertise across the spectrum of foodservice operations. Panelists include: Sodexo Director of Sustainability Performance and Field Support Christy Cook, Ted's Montana Grill Purchasing & Sustainability Manager Paula Owens and Sustainable America Director of Events Heide Hart.

Following the plenary panel, Ei Founder Holly Elmore moderates the Food Waste Composting: challenges, lessons learned & successes panel. Drawing on their vast industry experience, U.S. Composting Council Executive Director Frank Franciosi presents from the composting facility perspective and GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition Senior Manager Anne Bedarf explains the importance of labeling compostable & recyclable packaging. Christy Cook with Sodexo shares the intricacies of crafting front and back-of-the-house food waste collection programs.

Keynote speaker Mathy Stanislaus "tunes into" zero waste's role within the circular economy in the second day opening plenary session. In addition, Mathy addresses how zero waste programs address climate action plans. As previously mentioned, Mathy is featured in the ZWA Blog article 2016 Zero Waste Conference: "Tuning In" to Zero Waste announcing the conference.

The morning plenary session USZWBC Facility Certification is moderated by USZWBC Board Member Cheri Chastain, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company sustainability manager. Zero Waste Facility Certification veterans share their experience along with helpful tips on creating a zero waste environment that falls within the certification criteria.

USZWBC President Sue Beets
at podium during 2015 NZWBC
Panelists include: American Licorice Company Quality Director Giri Veeramuthu, Walt Disney World Environmental Integration Project Manager Jason Tschanz, Walt Disney World Horticulturalist and Student Program Manager Les Frey, and J.M. Smucker Company Operations Manager Cindy Sockey.

Establishing Diversion Metrics, the final plenary panel, explores the particulars of developing a tracking program, crafting diversion metrics that make sense for particular scenarios, and addresses challenges experienced by industry forerunners. JLL Solid Waste and Recycling Program Manager Ana Wyssmann moderates the prominent panel including: Raytheon Company Solid Waste Process Owner Brian Balukonis, General Motors Global Waste Reduction Manager John Bradburn, and Rubicon Global Head of Sustainability David Rachelson.

In addition to the stellar program, pre and post-conference activities include the ZWBA Scorecard 101 Professional Training CourseAchieving Zero Waste at Colleges and Universities WorkshopZero Waste 101 Workshop and tours of local landmarks dedicated to zero waste.

The NZWBC Conference Program is designed for the seasoned zero waste veteran ready to evolve their program to next dimensions as well as the novice interested in learning how to create effective systems. In addition to the formal education, the industry connections are invaluable once the conference is a memory.

Kudos to USZWBC Founder Stephanie Barger along with Emily DeCremer, Thao Nguyen and the NZWBC Conference Committee for orchestrating a stellar NZWWC program! 

Registration is open for the 2016 NZWBC with the early bird special ending April 30. For those interested in conference sponsorship, the Sponsorship page details options available. Upon request, tailored sponsor packages are considered.

As the live music capital of the world, Austin is the perfect venue to "tune in" to zero waste and catch the beat of a World Without Waste!