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Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Power of Connection

One of Elemental Impact (Ei)'s valuable industry roles is connecting colleagues | organizations together who share synergistic missions and programs. Often introductions evolve into important Ei initiatives. Other times introductions result in powerful alliances yet do not directly involve Ei in subsequent programs.

NRA & USCC associates post-meeting
A prime example is Ei's 2011 introduction of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to the U.S. Composting Council (USCC). As home to the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) - the nation's forerunner for the commercial collection of food waste for compost, Ei worked closely with the foodservice industry on collection of food waste for composting. In addition, Ei developed a strong relationship with the USCC and food waste compost manufacturers.

It was natural to introduce the respective national trade associations for food waste generators to food waste destinations. SUCCESS: the ZWA Blog article, Collaboration is Key to Successannounces the formal Memorandum of Understanding executed between the NRA and the USCC.
The Ei Team - Industry Pioneers, Industry Experts, Strategic Allies and Advisory Council - is a powerful entourage of industry leadership eager to share their expertise, experience and wisdom. Ei introductions are central to a multitude of successful pilots, programs, grants and relationships.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
The EPA Region 4 was instrumental in the ZWZ launch and worked closely with Ei Founder Holly Elmore, then Green Foodservice Alliance Founder & Executive Director, on developing the program. With a solid relationship, Ei and the EPA continue to work together on industry initiatives.

EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC:
In 2011, Charlotte-based Concord Mills accepted the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Shopping Mall Pilot role with an emphasis on food waste collection for composting, excess food donation and plastic film recycling. A strong relationship developed with Mecklenburg County Government along with a powerful network of Charlotte businesses and organizations.

EPA Grant Team
photo courtesy of Steve Davies
When Ei Strategic Ally Green Blue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) submitted the EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC grant proposal, Ei was included as a lead sub-grantee. Ei’s role centered on powerful Charlotte government and private enterprise connections, commercial food waste program experience, grant work documentation via blog articles & FB albums, and coordination of grant team visits.

The ZWA Blog article, Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC, gives an overview of grant objectives, tasks and goal.

During the two-year grant period - October 2013 to September 2015 - Ei orchestrated five Charlotte visits filled with powerful meetings, site visits | tours along with productive dinners where the magic flowed into action plans. The Ei Charlotte Visits page documents the important visits.

Food Recovery Challenge:
In 2011 the EPA introduced the Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) as a response to the incredible volume of food waste and wasted food destined for landfills. EPA Region 4 focused their 2014 FRC launch on the hospitality sector. The ZWA Blog article, EPA Food Recovery Challenge: Region IV launches FRC in hospitality sector, gives program details and an introduction to the food waste dilemma.

With strong connections to foodservice industry leaders, Ei joined the FRC as an Endorser, committing to recruit Program Participants as well as additional Endorsers.

The GWCC EPA FRC meeting
In February 2014 Holly and EPA Environmental Scientist Kim Charick embarked on a meeting | call marathon recruiting FRC Program Participants and Endorsers. It was empowering to reconnect with the early zero waste pioneers, most Founding ZWZ Participants.

Eager to join, the pioneers receive recognition for their impressive food waste practices and serve as role models for those new to donation and food waste collection programs. The ZWA Blog article, Ei Joins EPA Food Recovery Challenge, recaps the recruiting process while the Ei FB album, EPA Food Recovery Challenge, is a pictorial recount of the meetings.

2016 Earth Day Farmer's Market:
Due to Ei's strong, longstanding EPA Region 4 relationship, Public Relations Specialist Davina Marraccini called Ei to recommend a chef for the 2016 Atlanta Federal Center Earth Day Farmer’s Market the following week.

Thanks to Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer's quick action, Levy Restaurants Chef Juliet educated students and attendees at the event. Levy Restaurants provides the foodservice for the GWCC and its affiliated facilities.

Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC)
The ZWZ launched in February 2009 at the GWCC in an acclaimed press conference led by the EPA Region 4 Acting Regional Director. Thus, the strong GWCC | Ei relationship is grounded within Ei's foundation.

SFCI Team @ Ga Dome 
In spring 2012, the Georgia Dome accepted the SFCI Event Venue Pilot invitation. Along with the GWCC and Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Dome was one of three facilities under the state-owned Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA). In addition, the GWCCA manages the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.

With the spring 2017 Georgia Dome decommissioning, the SFCI Event Venue Pilot shifts to the GWCC.

Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech):
At Holly's request, Cindy Jackson, Georgia Tech manager, solid waste management & recycling, hosted Tim for an afternoon of fun and education at the GA Tech campus.  

GWCC Ga Tech Tour
The gathering catalyst was Tim's enthusiasm to create a successful Atlanta Falcon's tailgate recycling program for the 2012 season. Years ago Cindy launched GA Tech tailgate recycling on game days with success and was happy to share her program logistics. Conversation quickly moved beyond tailgate recycling to GA Tech's comprehensive program, culminating in an amazing campus tour. 

Subsequent to the introduction, GA Tech and GWCC developed a close working relationship and Tim | Cindy separately thanked Ei for the introduction. The ZWA Blog post, ZWZ Participants Work Together, is an overview of the tour and the Ei FB album, 02-27-12 GA Tech Hosts GWCC, is the pictorial recap. 

Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session:
Ei Partner Rick Lombardo educates
on compostable bags
Ready to expand their recycling practices to the next dimension, Tim requested Ei to present a comprehensive Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session to Levy Restaurants' downtown campus, including the GWCC, Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, Phillips Arena and the under-construction Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

The Ei Team crafted a powerful two-hour session that included ample time for Q&A and discussion throughout the presentations. On April 8, 2015 the Ei Partners converged on Atlanta for the Levy education session.

The ZWA Blog article, Compostable F&B Packaging: integral to zero waste programs and soil rebuilding, is an overview of the session and the important role packaging plays in zero waste programs; the Ei FB album, 04-08-15 Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session, gives a session pictorial recap. 

King of Crops Farm Tour:
David educating Tim on food
waste composting-in-process
On February 6, 2017, Ei orchestrated a King of Crops Farm food waste composting tour for Tim. Compostwheels Founder David Paull hosted the tour; CW partners with King of Crops for commercial food waste composting at the farm. ... and Holly's home food waste is delivered to the farm!

A pictorial recount of the tour is included in the Ei FB album, Ei Connects.

SC State Government & Hospitality Association
ZWZ Tours:
Ei has a longstanding history with South Carolina (SC) government and the state's hospitality industry. In August 2011 the SC Hospitality Association (SCHA) brought a contingent of Board members, business association executives and City of Columbia staff and councilman to Atlanta for a ZWZ tour. The ZWA Blog article, ATL ZWZ Team Hosts SC Hospitality Tour, gives an overview of the tour, documenting the strong food waste recovery enthusiasm; the Ei FB album, 08-11 SCHA ATL ZWZ Tour, gives a pictorial recount.

SC zero waste tour group
With the SC operators on-board, the SCHA came to Atlanta in November 2011 for a second tour focused on the commercial food waste composting destination. The November contingent consisted of trade association | non-profit executives, city & state officials along with two Columbia hotel executives. From Atlanta, EPA Region 4 and Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sustainability Division staff joined the Ei-hosted tour and meetings to share their ZWZ program development experiences. 

The ZWA Blog article, An Encore ZWZ Performance, documents the tour. For the tour pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB albums, DAY 1 - SC Hospitality 2nd ATL ZWZ Tour and DAY 2 - SC Hospitality 2nd ATL ZWZ Tour.

Upstate Food Recovery Event: 
Kim Brunson with Publix 
On October 6, 2015 the SC Department of Commerce (SCDC) hosted the Upstate Food Recovery Event in Greenville. Prominent industry leaders shared their impressive food recovery practices in-place, along with goals for further reducing, donating and composting food waste. In recognition of their longstanding Ei relationship, Holly gave the keynote presentation during the locally-sourced lunch served on compostable serviceware.

Holly's presentation ended with the vital role food waste collection for compost plays in rebuilding our soils. Healthy soils produce nutritious, delicious food, retain | filter water, and prevent excessive erosion. Holly's PPT presentation is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page. The ZWA Blog article, SC ripe for food recovery, gives an event overview, including presentations by Publix, Michelin and other industry leaders.

U.S Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC)
Ei and the USZWBC forged a strong relationship from its 2012 inception when Holly presented at the inaugural National Zero Waste Business Conference. With tremendous synergies, Ei connections were a valuable resource as the USZWBC grew in prominence.

USZWBC Board signing
USGBC documents
On October 5, 2016 the U.S.Green Building Council (USGBC) and USZWBC formally joined forces to advance zero waste business practices. The ZWA Blog article, USGBC Empowers Zero Waste Industry: USGBC & USZWBC join forces, announces the monumental achievement for the zero waste industry.

Ei continues to work closely with former USZWBC Executive Director Stephanie Barger in her new USGBC Director of Market Development, Zero Waste Programs position.

Ei-Hosted NZWBC Panels:
Zero Waste is a Team Sport panel
At the second annual NZWBC, Holly orchestrated the first Ei-hosted panel presentation, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, comprised of Ei Partners. The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, a powerful USZWBC conference panel, gives an overview of the panel presentations.

Thus, an Ei-hosted conference panel model was born: Holly crafts a pertinent panel topic, recruits panelist from the Ei Team, coaches panel PPT presentations to ensure seamless flow, and moderates the panel at the conference. The Ei-Hosted Conference Panel page details the plethora of conference panels.

Ei-hosted panels were standard practice at future NZWBC.

2014 NZWBC Conference:
Ei took a leadership role in bringing the 2014 NZWBC to Atlanta and influenced the local flavor of the excellent conference program. ZWZ Chair & Ei Advisor Laura Turner Seydel welcomed conference attendees to Atlanta with her opening remarks. In addition to USZWBC introductions to Atlanta zero waste icons, Ei hosted the following panels:

Scott Jenkins & Holly
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
  • The Atlanta Zero Waste Story, opening plenary panel moderated by Holly
  • Scaling Up Compost in Charlotte, NC, breakout panel moderated by Holly
  • Recycling Refinement ... moving beyond landfill diversion, breakout panel moderated by Holly
  • Zero Waste, Georgia Grown, breakout panel moderated by then Ei Program Administrator Melissa Selem
The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Shines as Zero Waste Conference Host City, provides an in-depth synopsis on Ei Partners' and Strategic Allies' role in the conference program.

USZWBC | NZWBC Official Media Partner:
Ei served as the Official NZWBC Media Partner for the 2014, 2015 & 2016 conferences and as the Official USZWBC Media partner for 2015 & 2016. In addition to writing USZWBC-related blog articles, Ei served as a connection base for the USZWBC on many fronts. With the USZWBC under the USGBC umbrella, the strong Ei relationship moves into a broader scope.

Zero Food Waste Journeys
In 2015 the Ei SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - embarked on zero food waste journeys at two prominent Atlanta events, RayDay and Afternoon in the Country (AITC). Both events were hosted by the Inn at Serenbe, within the Serenbe community.

Boyd Leak and Doug &
his wife working AITC
SFCI Co-Chair Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks took a leadership role with SMAT during the education, planning, and execution phases. The first step was to educate event organizers on the importance of using BPI-Certified compostable serviceware. Ei contracted with Let Us Compost (LUC) to orchestrate the AITC | RayDay on-site food waste compost operations along with post-event follow-up.

Amidst idyllic weather and a sole foodservice provider, RayDay achieved zero food waste, including the kitchen scraps from the food truck caterer.

While a perfect scenario came together for RayDay, AITC was riddled with extraordinary challenges on event day. A rainy event day, coupled with prior ten days straight of rain, culminated in tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the event. ... and there were 90+ chefs | restaurants participating at AITC! Thanks to heroic team work, a total of 1,800 pounds of food waste was composted on site.

With perfect timing for the 2016 Annual Ei Partner Meeting, NatureWorks published the RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction and Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case studies to showcase the 2015 Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys. The case studies are announced in the IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2016: Year of Recognition, within the powerful meeting recap.

The ZWA Blog article, NatureWorks publishes zero food waste case studies, gives an overview of the case studies along with links to download the documents.

Affairs to Remember (ATR)
In 2009 ATR was designated Atlanta's First ZWZ Caterer by the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA), the ZWZ founding organization within the Georgia Restaurant Association umbrella. In addition, ATR Managing Director Patrick Cuccaro served on the GFA Advisory Board and was instrumental with Ei's 2010 formation as the new ZWZ home.

The Ei | ATR connection grows stronger each year. With exemplary hospitality, ATR hosts powerful Ei-orchestrated introductory meetings. Beyond the important business at hand, guests are treated to a divinely delicious experience!

ATR Ei Tree planting team
For Ei's five-year anniversary, ATR planted a six-foot Shrangri-La Ginkgo tree honoring Ei in the Virginia - Highlands neighborhood. 

Sponsored by Councilmember Felicia Moore, the City of Atlanta proclaimed November 11, 2014 "Affairs to Remember Caterers Day" in recognition of sustainability efforts, and in particular the milestone of having diverted one million pounds of recoverable materials from Georgia landfills. 

The ZWA Blog article, ... and the journey began with a delicious divorce from the landfill!, announces the proclamation and includes the ATR sustainability story along with several of the below introductions.

SC ZWZ Tours:
In the above mentioned SC ZWZ Tours, ATR hosted a lovely lunch at their offices for the August 2011 tours. In addition to an impressive ATR facility tour, guests were treated to a 100% compostable boxed lunch. Back in 2011 it took research and ingenuity to craft a compostable lunch with readily available products. 

Green Seal (GS) Lunch:
ATR GS lunch group photo
When Ei Strategic Ally Green Seal (GS) President & CEO Arthur Weissman visited Atlanta in February 2016, ATR hosted a luncheon to introduce the potential Ei | GS Atlanta Hospitality Program to industry leaders. City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability Senior Policy Advisor Boyd Leake and Tim (GWCC) joined the lunch. The Ei | GS program focuses on the GS foodservice and cleaning certifications.

City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability:
Continuing tradition, Ei facilitated an introductory lunch meeting in June 2015 for the ATR Team and in-coming City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability Stephanie Benfield. Several years earlier Ei orchestrated a similar introductory luncheon for then City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability Denise Quarles.

March 2017 lunch group photo
When the City of Atlanta was chosen as one of the 100 Resilient Cities pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, Stephanie was appointed to the Chief Resilience Officer position. 

On March 8, 2017 Ei orchestrated a powerful meeting of Atlanta's sustainability leadership hosted by ATR. The overt meeting purpose was to introduce new City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability John Rutherford Seydel to ATR. In addition to John and Boyd from the City of Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz Stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins and Ray C. Anderson Foundation Executive Director John Lanier joined the meeting. It was an inspiring lunch filled with empowering conversation and amazing cuisine.

Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meetings
Each December 2011 through 2014, trade association and non-profit executives from the entire sustainable food & beverage packaging value chain met in Washington D.C. for a day of vibrant dialogue and sharing.

F&B Value Chain Final Meeting
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
For the final three years, Global Green's D.C. office hosted the meeting. Ei oversaw meeting administration, moderated the meeting presentations and strategy session, and documented the powerful meeting dialogue in a ZWA Blog article.

Mission Accomplished: the original meeting intention was to harness industry synergies among the complementary organizations. During the 2014 presentation, it was empowering to witness the many joint pilots | programs among meeting participants. 

The ZWA Blog article, Sustainable F&B Packaging: moving from an emerging to a maturing industry, documents the final 2014 meeting.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS)
Ei connected with MBS General Manager Scott Jenkins upon his Spring 2014 arrival in Atlanta, three years prior to the stadium's summer 2017 opening. During his first months in Atlanta, Ei was instrumental in introducing Scott to Atlanta's sustainability community. 

More recently, Ei introduced Scott's team to a local food waste collection option for the stadium. In addition, Scott attended the previously mentioned ATR-hosted City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability luncheon.

2014 NZWBC Plenary Panel:
Scott during NZWBC panel Q&A
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
Within weeks of his arrival, Scott served on the above mentioned NZWBC The Atlanta Zero Waste Story opening plenary panel orchestrated by Holly. The plenary panel was Scott's first presentation as MBS GM!

Atlanta Ei Partner Tours:
In June 2014 Scott joined the Atlanta Ei Partner Tours for several local tours and dinner where he connected with industry colleagues. At the GWCC tour, Scott educated the Ei Partners on the MBS and explored avenues for collaboration.

Lambda Alpha International:
Scott with the Ei entourage
At Holly's invitation Scott gave an empowering Sustainability: an economic driver presentation at the February 15, 2017 Lambda Alpha International (LAI) Atlanta Chapter luncheon meeting. LAI is a land economic honorary; Holly was inducted in 2013 and serves on the local chapter Board.

It was inspiring to learn the intricacies of how "MBS will be the Heart of Atlanta and home to the biggest championships in the United States." Throughout his presentation, Scott emphasized the economics grounding the MBS sustainability commitment.

The IMPACT Blog article, Sustainability: an economic driver, is an overview of Scott's presentation, which is available for download on the Ei LAI page.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)
In 2012 EMF CEO Andrew Morlet connected with Ei within weeks of joining the powerful organization. During the Circular Economy 100 (CE100) formation, Ei was instrumental in industry education and introductions. With robust synergies, the Ei | EMF connection remains strong.

First Annual CE100 Summit:
Ei Chair Scott Seydel represented Ei at the June 2013 First Annual CE100 Summit hosted in London. Prior to the summit, Scott met with Andrew and Dame Ellen MacArthur and formed a longstanding bond. The IMPACT Blog, A Revolutionary Evolution - going from a linear to circular economy, introduces the Circular Economy along with a CE100 Summit overview.

In November 2015 Scott joined the the EMF USA Board in preparation for the U.S. Circular Economy Program February 2016 launch.

Atlanta Visit:
During a 2015 eight-hour Atlanta Airport layover, Andrew and Holly connected for their first in-person encounter. Ensuring a productive visit, Holly scheduled a meeting with then Delta Director, Safety, Health, Environment Helen Howes. 

A lovely dinner followed with the Georgia Tech Center for Sustainable Business Founding Managing Director Howard Connell and one his colleagues. Timing was perfect for the Andrew | Howard introduction as Georgia Tech was interested in the EMF Pioneer Universities Program.

Urban Biocycles:
In the early research phase for the scoping paper, Andrew requested Holly to assist Doug Walker, lead author and program manager, with education on the U.S. state of urban organic recycling. In addition to the education, Holly introduced Doug to Ei Strategic Ally Brenda Platt, Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) co-director, as an excellent resource via her Neighborhood Soils Rebuilding and community composting programs in-place.

Prior to publication, Holly reviewed the document draft and submitted content comments. 

On March 28, 2017 EMF issued the Urban Biocycles scoping paper. It is a well-researched paper on the current state of global organic recycling with a focus on the economic opportunities using a Circular Economy approach for urban organics. The Urban Biocycles scoping paper sets a solid foundation for further research and development of urban organic recycling | manufacturing systems within a Circular Economy.

Ei | Holly and ILSR | Brenda are listed in the paper credits as Expert Input and Case Study Contributors.

Connectivity and collaboration are keys for success, especially when forging industry frontiers. In 2012, Ei introduced the power of the WE Consciousness in the ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport:
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.
The Power of Connection is a valuable asset. Ei is honored to serve as the conduit between prominent industry friends and facilitate powerful introductions. When we work together, the possibilities are endless and solutions dissolve monumental barriers.