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Friday, November 10, 2017

Atlanta Hosts U.S. Composting Council Conference

On January 22 - 25, 2018 Atlanta hosts the 26th Annual U.S. Composting Council (USCC) Conference & Tradeshow at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel. As a pioneer in the commercial collection of food waste for compost via the 2009 Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launch, Atlanta is an ideal host for the empowering conference. 

The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, a Founding ZWZ Participant, boasts an embedded sustainability culture, including their food waste collection for compost program.

In a formal statement, the City of Atlanta, Mayor's Office of Resilience Senior Policy Advisor Boyd Leake welcomes the conference to Atlanta:
“The City of Atlanta and the Mayor’s Office of Resilience welcome the USCC Conference to Atlanta for the first time in January 2018. Composting is a critical part of the City’s strategy to address food residuals and yard trimmings, the need for soil amendments for local urban farms, and to combat climate change.”
Mercedes-Benz Stadium
With a special focus on sports/events organics recycling and green infrastructure, the 2018 conference theme is GAME ON! Building Sustainable Communities. In alignment with the theme, Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) General Manager and Green Sports Alliance Chair, Scott Jenkins is the conference opening plenary speaker.

Three years prior to the MBS summer 2017 opening, Atlanta Falcons owner AMB Sports + Entertainment brought Scott to Atlanta to ensure the stadium was designed and built to impeccable sustainability standards. SUCCESS: MBS is on target to achieve LEED Platinum certification!!!

Prior to arriving in Atlanta, Scott brought Seattle's Safeco Field to zero waste in his role as Vice-President Ballpark Operations. A food waste collection for compost program, complete with compostable food & beverage packaging, was integral to the ballpark's success.

During the pre-conference activities, MBS tours are offered in the morning and afternoon.

In addition to the MBS tours, the Sustainability in Action: Atlanta's Green Infrastructure bus tour showcases Atlanta's diverse application of green infrastructure techniques. A sampling of tour stops include:
  • Atlanta City Hall Green Roof - built as a pilot program in 2003, the City of Atlanta green roof is the first municipal green roof in the Southeast. The intention was to raise awareness and demonstrate how green roofs may enhance Atlanta’s urban landscape.
  • Ponce City Market - opened in 2015, Ponce City Market is located in the historic Sears, Roebuck and Co. warehouse & store, which operated from 1927 - 1987. With local and national retail anchors, restaurants, a food hall, offices, and residential units, the 2.1 million-square-foot building on 16 acres is one of the largest by volume multi-use complexes in the Southeast U.S. 
  • Southface Energy Institute - the Southface headquarters building uses sustainable technologies to reduce energy, water, and waste, including its rooftop garden and an invessel composting system.
Atlanta-based Elemental Impact (Ei) is a conference media partner. In addition Ei Founder Holly Elmore moderates the Ei-hosted Compost's Empowering Role in Sustainable Soils panel discussion:
Soil is the foundation of life. Healthy, vibrant soil eco-systems are the building blocks for healthy communities with effective stormwater management programs, solid erosion control systems, and nutritious urban food production. … and compost feeds the soil eco-systems!
Learn from industry experts about compost’s empowering role in carbon sequestration | climate change, soil management systems grounded in solid economics, and green urban infrastructure.
The prominent panelists and their respective topics are:
  • The Compost Story – Finian Makepeace, Kiss the Ground Co-Founder
  • Soil Life: beyond dirt! – Kathy Kellogg Johnson, Kellogg Garden Products, Director of Sustainability & Chairman of the Board
  • Soils Strategies for the Urban Environment – Wayne King, Sr., ERTH Products CEO
  • Building Green: Atlanta’s Green Infrastructure Approach – Cory Rayburn, City of Atlanta Watershed Manager
Joe Lamp'l of Growing a Greener
World with Kathy @ Laura's luncheon
Environmental activist Laura Turner Seydel, Captain Planet Foundation Chair, is the conference closing keynote speaker. In August, Laura hosted a powerful Sustainable Soils luncheon at the EcoManor, her Atlanta LEED-certified home. Though the program format was discussion-based, Kathy Kellogg Johnson gave an informal presentation. The important role compost plays in sustainable soils was intertwined throughout the luncheon discussion. Future plans include reconvening the powerful, diverse group on a regular basis within the auspice of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic.

Beyond Atlanta's strong influence, the stellar conference program has a wide range of presentation topics related to the compost manufacturing industry. A sampling of topics includes: Commerical Organics Diversion Program Development, Cultivating Community Composting, Composting Process Improvements, Collecting Organics at Events & Venues, Compost Quality Updates, Minimizing Contamination in Organics Collection, Improving the Bottomline, and much more.

In addition to the popular tours, pre-conference activities include a plethora of half and full-day workshops led by respected industry experts. The conference tradeshow exhibitors are ready for on-the-spot education. Post-conference, Dekalb County Landfill & Compost Facility hosts the annual Equipment Show and Demonstrations.

Plan to join the nation's largest gathering of compost industry professionals at the 2018 GAME ON! Building Sustainable Communities USCC Conference & Tradeshow.

Conference REGISTRATION in open! Westin Peachtree Hotel rooms are available, yet the conference block is limited. See you in Atlanta this January!


  1. Looks like a great lineup. GAME ON, Atlanta! I'd like to see us move forward with more composting facilities for foodservice!

    1. Thanks Susan - always appreciate your enthusiastic support! A regional food waste composting facility is critical to go mainstream with commercial food waste collection for compost. There is behind the scenes work on a regional solution.