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Friday, February 28, 2020

A Decade of Impact: Era of Recycling Refinement

The second in a three-article series celebrating Ei's ten-year anniversary.

On February 5 Elemental Impact (Ei) celebrated ten years of making an impact in an array of industries and communities. In 2010 Ei was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit to serve as the home for the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ,) the nation’s forerunner in the commercial collection of food waste for compost.

Ei's precursor, the Green Foodservice Association (GFA), an affiliate of the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), launched the ZWZ in February 2009 at an acclaimed press conference hosted at the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA).

ZWZ Chair Laura Turner Seydel
at a ZWZ press conference
The ZWZ were thrust into the media spotlight as the nation's forerunner in the commercial collection of food waste for compost. Prominent media included a CNN story and New York Times front-page article.

During the Era of Recycling Refinement (RR), Ei inception through June 2017, the Ei Team served as a leader in pioneering frontiers with a myriad of completed projects | programs.

The Ei Team is comprised of Industry Experts and Industry Pioneers. Experts educate, advise and provide support as the Pioneers craft new standard operating practices that make good business and environmental sense. Once tested and proven effective, the Pioneers share the evolved practices with their industry colleagues. Ei’s work is complete and the Team moves to a new industry frontier.

Beginning with the ZWZ, Ei initiatives epitomize the following mantra:

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.

Committed to action, the Ei lived the tagline, Sustainability in ACTION, throughout the Era of RR.

Recycling Refinement

Moving beyond landfill diversion

Ei was committed to creating operating practices where integrity was maintained throughout the entire value chain, including material producers, users, and destinations at disposal time. Diverting valuable material from landfills and back into the production process was core to Ei’s foundation and expertise.

Clean source-separated material
at Georgia Tech
In the early years, zero-waste measurement was in diversion rates from the landfill without consideration of the final destination. Diversion rates often present a deceptive portrait of recycling efforts. 

Beyond creating clean, source-separated material streams, RR addresses the entire value chain from supplier zero-waste practices to the products produced from the post-consumer recovered material. 

If a supplier is wasteful, then there is waste inherent within a manufacturer's production process, regardless of the practices in place at their facility. Similarly, if post-use products serve as a raw material for items with no recycling markets, then the product is down-cycled; its use is merely extended by one life before landfill destination. To claim zero waste with integrity, a manufacturer must address the entire value chain.

Single-Stream Recycling
Contamination: an expensive trip to the landfill

In single-stream recycling, common recyclable materials - fiber (cardboard, paper), plastics, metals and glass - are placed in a single bin for later sorting at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Once sorted by type, material is baled for sale within the commodity market. Beginning around 2009 the big waste haulers started switching over to single-stream recycling as their offered service.

Unfortunately, contamination was rampant in single-stream recycling systems from its introduction. Contamination generally falls into three categories: 1> non-recyclable items 2> food & melted ice, and 3> glass. 

Founding SFCI Chair Scott Seydel
with contaminated single-steam material
The Zero Waste in ACTION (ZWA) Blog articles, Single-Stream Recycling Controversy and Single-Stream Recycling: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, strike powerful blows to single-stream recycling from its onset. Facts in the articles are supported by the Container Recycling Institute’s 2009 Single-Stream Recycling White Paper and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s July 2011 webinar Single-Stream Recycling: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

Revealed in the CRI white paper: Single-stream recycling increases recycling participation (diversion rates) yet DECREASES actual recycling rates, mainly due to contamination.

The November 2016 ZWA Blog article, A Recycling or Contamination Crisis, chronicles waste-hauler development and implementation of single-stream recycling, which resulted in a severe contamination crisis.

Recycling Integrity
Maintaining maximum material value with minimum energy expended.

Balance: A key to developing successful systems is balance between the material value and the energy required to recycle material.

Source-separated PET
bale at the Georgia Dome
The energy expended during the material lifecycle is an important reality check. Energy is defined as labor hours and effort, transportation, electricity | water required in processes within the recycling chain, and other unique energy used within the system. While source-separation is integral to creating recycling-profit centers, increased energy is required: 1) additional labor (green job creation!) to source-separate and aggregate material for sale and 2) more trucks on the road collecting separated material.

Organizations will determine their threshold where material volume results in revenue sufficient to cover costs. For smaller organizations, collective effort with industry partners and neighbors may result in the necessary volume for recycling-profit centers.

A Journey: Recycling Integrity is an important ever-evolving journey that requires a holographic viewpoint. 

The Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template section addresses creating successful recycling programs based on Recycling Integrity.

Zero Waste Zones 
Collaboration is key to success

The first article in the series, A Decade of Impact: history & background, chronicles the ZWZ formation along the plethora of media attention and awards received in 2009.

Holly with the Chris Triad at the
2011 NRA Show
Along with the ZWZ industry prominence came invitations for Ei Founder Holly Elmore to speak at national conferences. In January 2010, prior to Ei's formal foundation, Holly presented at the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) Conference in Orlando as the ZWZ Director on the ZWZ formation and successes.

In May the National Restaurant Association (NRA) invited Holly to speak in a 90-minute educational session at the annual NRA Show in Chicago. The 2009 topic was COMPOST: The Quiet Hero. The following year, Holly hosted a sequel session in panel format, COMPOST: The Quiet Hero Returns with the Chris Triad: Chris Moyer (NRA), Chris Newman (EPA R5), and Chris Koetke (Kendall College).

At the November 2010 U.S. Forest Service Sustainable Operations Summit: Leading by Example to Conserve Natural Resources hosted in Atlanta, Holly presented a plenary session, Zero Waste Zones, Mobilizing an Industry to Make a Difference. Later in the day, Holly presented on Compost, The Quiet Hero in a well attended breakout session

Throughout the Era of RR, Holly presented at numerous prestigious local, regional and national conferences. The Ei Speaking Engagements page details the many engagements through the years; PPT presentations are available for download on the page.

SC entourage at the
Greenco composting facility
Working closely with the NRA, Ei embarked on a national expansion plan. In August 2011, an entourage from South Carolina (SC) including executives and associates from the SC Hospitality & Travel Association, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, City of Columbia as well as restaurateurs and hoteliers visited Atlanta for ZWZ introductions, meetings and tours.

Success: the SC entourage returned to Atlanta for a second series of meetings and tours co-hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 (EPA R4) and Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sustainability Division (GDNR SD.)

At the ZWZ Two-Year Anniversary Press Conference, the NRA announced a national collaboration between the Ei | ZWZ and the NRA Conserve Program. At the podium, Scott DeFife, NRA Executive Vice President for policy and government affairs, announced the collaboration with the following statement,

Atlanta’s Zero Waste Zones program has been incredibly successful, and we are now looking to expand that success to communities nationwide. Sustainability is imperative to our industry, other business communities, and the general public. Working with Elemental Impact, we are bringing industry stakeholders together to enable our members to establish - and succeed in reaching - waste diversion and resource-recovery goals.
Presenters at the Two-Year
ZWZ Anniversary Press Conference
In late September 2012, the NRA acquired the ZWZ program with intentions to expand the program nationally within the state-restaurant-association network. It was exciting news; the program could evolve and increase its impact within the depth of the NRA's educational, training and policy resources. The ZWA Magazine article, National Restaurant Association Acquires the Zero Waste Zones, gives additional details on the monumental purchase.

The ZWA Magazine article, Zero Waste Zones Launch Ten-Year Anniversary, details the impressive accomplishments by ZWZ Participants and ZWZ successes.

Post-ZWZ purchase, Ei continued resource-recovery work within the powerful Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) with a focus on post-consumer food waste, plastic-film recycling, source-separated materials recycling, and more.

POWER
Mission: To explore and evaluate the highest good collection, recycling, and use of perishable organics and make recommendations for deployment of economically viable projects within a defined geographic region.

In 2009 POWER – Perishable Organics Waste to Energy Recycling – was formed to address the emerging technologies for commercial food-waste destinations. Founded within the GFA, POWER  segued to Ei upon incorporation in February 2010 .

Presenters at the final
POWER meeting
Industry leaders traveled from across the nation to engage in the formation of an emerging industry. Presentations ran the gamut from windrow | aerated-static-pile composting, anaerobic digestion, plasma, soldier flies to bio-char programs for commercial food-waste destinations. In addition, complementary industry topics were discussed as well as addressing end markets and related economic viability.

The final POWER meeting was hosted in January 2012 via a session at the annual USCC. As the food-waste-destination industry matured, the POWER meetings served as a platform to catapult an emerging industry into an established industry. Mission Accomplished!

PPT presentations at the POWER meetings are available for download on the POWER page.

Sustainable Food Court Initiative
An Integrated Approach to Sustainability

Mission: To bring zero-waste initiatives to food courts and develop industry sustainable best practices for back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house operations.

With the NRA ZWZ purchase in late 2012, the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) was Ei’s central RR focus going forward. Under the ZWZ, best-operating practices were established for back-of-the-house food waste generated in commercial kitchens. The SFCI addressed front-of-the-house food-waste, recycling, and trash collection where the consumer source-separated material.

Founding Ei Chair Scott Seydel and NatureWorks Global Segment Leader – Foodservice Doug Kunnemann served as SFCI Co-Chairs.

The following zero-waste challenges are inherent within food courts:

  • Common property waste and recycling contracts for the entire facility.
  • Landlord | tenant relationships with contractual legal restrictions and obligations.
  • Franchisee | franchisor relationships with contractual legal restrictions and obligations.
  • Consumer disposition and separation of food waste, recycling, and trash.
  • Third-party products brought into the food court not purchased from the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) or retail outlets.
  • Food may be prepared in a commissary or off-site kitchen and transported to the QSR with minimal on-site preparation.
  • Multiple packaging items used in the front and back-of-house by the QSR, landlord, and | or property manager.
  • Contracted custodial services by the landlord or property manager.
Food courts fall into the following six main categories, each with unique circumstances and challenges: airports, colleges | universities, event venues, government centers, office centers, shopping malls, and annual events.

To address the unique challenges pilots were planned in each category, with the following pilots launched:


Ei Partner CleanRiver SFCI bin
@ the 2013 NRA Show
Pilots were supported by a powerful SFCI Team consisting of associates from national non-profits, trade associations, government as well as industry experts from the private sector. Local organizations joined the specific pilot team to share expertise unique to the area and facility.

The stated prime SFCI Pilot focus was post-consumer food-waste collection for compost or a permitted destination other than landfill. The secondary focus was on-site material source-separation for recycling, which involved practices beyond the food court to the entire pilot facility. The ZWA Blog article, SFCI targets post-consumer food waste, announces the SFCI food-waste focus along with respective pilot updates.

In March 2012, Holly presented on the SFCI at a Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery conference in New Orleans. The conference video provides an excellent SFCI overview.

Sustainable Materials ACTION Team
Scope: To engage in material identification within Ei Pilots focused on contamination and value, leveraging the team’s market insights, skill sets and knowledge of value-added industry best practices.

SMAT working session in Charlotte
The Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) formed to support post-consumer food-waste projects, ranging from compostable packaging education, post-game food-waste collection, to a post-consumer food-waste compost pilot at a state-permitted composting facility. In addition to the SFCI, SMAT supported the EPA Scaling-Up Compost in Charlotte, NC Grant, the Zero Food Waste Journeys, and the WorldChefs' Waste & Recycling course-curriculum development. These endeavors are addressed in later sections.

By 2016 numerous sporting event facilities, venues, outdoor festivals and other food-related businesses achieved zero waste, including post-consumer food waste. Thus, Ei's post-consumer food waste-related work was mission accomplished.

SFCI - ATL Pilot
In 2011, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) accepted the invitation to serve as the inaugural SFCI Airport Pilot. It was an honor for the busiest airport in the world to serve as the SFCI’s first pilot.

2014 SMAT tour at the ATL
With impeccable timing, the ATL was in the midst of the Request for Proposals for the entire airport foodservice operations. Working closely with the Department of Aviation, the SFCI Team provided the necessary support for the groundbreaking compostable packaging provision in the ten-year airport-concessionaire contracts.

Ei Industry Pioneer HMSHost, foodservice operator for the International Terminal & beyond, joined the team as a valuable Industry Pioneer implementing sustainable best operating practices.

The SFCI - ATL page details additional zero-waste challenges unique to airports.

Committed to action, the SFCI – Atlanta Airport Team accomplished the following projects:

COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING CONTRACT PROVISION:
With the SFCI Team's strong support, the new ATL concessionaire contracts executed in 2011 included the below groundbreaking provision requiring the use of compostable packaging:
Concessionaire shall use compostable serviceware along with consumer-facing packaging and source separate all foodservice wastes for direct transport to off-airport composting facilities.
The ZWA Blog post, Atlanta Airport Makes Bold Sustainable Statement, announces the contract provision.

Due to the groundbreaking contract provision, the SFCI - ATL won a 2011 Going Green Award at the 4th Annual Airports Going Green Conference in Chicago. The Airports Going Green conference is the aviation industry's leading sustainability forum, bringing sustainability leaders and innovators together from all over the U.S. and around the world.


Subsequently, ATL contracted with Ei Strategic Ally the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and Ei to publish the Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet; the document provided clear, concise information for airport food vendors on the contract provision along with guidance on how to meet the requirements. The ZWA Blog post, Compostable Packaging Info Packet, announces the packet while the Exemptions | Exclusions Added to Atlanta Airport Info Packet is an overview of a packet revision.

In a second Ei | ILSR contract, Materials-Usage Forms, designed to assist the airport with monitoring compliance with the contract provision, were provided to ATL in final draft format.

On October 22, 2014 ATL hosted the second greeningATL SFCI Vendor Fair to educate concessionaires on the ample compostable food & beverage-packaging options available. The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport’s Leadership Role in Compostable Packaging, is an overview of the vendor fair along with a brief history of the contract provision.
STARBUCKS MILK JUG RECYCLING:
HMSHost employee gathers
milk jugs for recycling
In 2012 HMSHost began recycling the approximately 2600 milk jugs per week used at their ATL Starbucks locations. The ZWA Blog post, Milk Jugs Recycled @ Atlanta Airport, is an overview of the system. The Ei FB album, 12-05-11 SFCI ATL Airport Milk Jug Recycling , gives a pictorial play by play of the collection, compacting, and baling process.

Subsequently, HMSHost implemented milk-jug recycling programs at other airports based on the ATL pilot success.

BACK-OF-THE-HOUSE FOOD WASTE TEST:
During late 2011, HMSHost contracted with a local composter to collect back-of-the-house food waste for a two-month test run on the Concourse T. The test-run purpose was to understand logistical challenges inherent within airport operations and regulations prior to implementing a larger-scale collection program. No unanticipated challenges or issues were discovered. As the test-run compost facility closed shortly thereafter, back-of-the-house food-waste collection for compost was not implemented at the airport.

AIRBORNE KITCHEN GREASE PILOT:
Pei Wei, a HMSHost food-court restaurant in the International Terminal, participated in a kitchen-hood filter-system pilot designed to document the water usage and toxicity reductions with system use. In addition to the environmental impact, the pilot quantified the economic benefits.

Independent Engineer's
Report cover
The Pei Wei pilot as well as several other pilots were documented in the August 2013 An Independent Engineer's Report, Water, Chemical, and Cost-Savings in Commercial Kitchens report published by Ei Partner Grease Lock Filters and Ei. Holly wrote the report opening statement.

Due to the pilot success, the ATL secured approval for a campus-wide installation of the Grease Lock Filter system. The airport anticipated saving an estimated 1.1 million gallons of water and each concessionaire saving approximately $7300 per unit due to reduced kitchen-exhaust system cleanings.

Refer to the GREASE section for additional information substantiating the Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease Initiative.

SFCI - Concord Mills Pilot
Concord Mills Team
In late summer 2012, Concord Mills, a Simon mall in Charlotte, NC, accepted the invitation to serve as the SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot. With nearly 400 shopping centers nationwide, Simon Property Group (Simon) was the nation’s largest mall owner as well as commercial property owner. The ZWA Blog article, Concord Mills – SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot!, announces the pilot.

The SFCI - Concord Mills page details additional zero-waste challenges unique to shopping malls.

Until January 2015 HMSHost operated the Concord Mills food-court restaurants and was integral to pilot success.
Working closely with the Simon corporate waste and recycling office since spring 2011, the Concord Mills team was ready for immediate action. The ZWA Blog article, Simon Property Group Embarks on Zero Waste Initiatives, documents the Simon | Ei introduction and strategy meetings while the article, 2011 Planning = 2012 Action, is an overview of the action-plan development.

The SFCI - Concord Mills accomplished the following projects:

FOOD-WASTE COLLECTION FOR COMPOST:
Back-of-the-house food waste was collected by Earth Farms for composting at their nearby state-permitted facility. Working as a team, HMSHost, Simon, and Earth Farms devised a weekly collection system that worked for all concerned parties. The ZWA Blog post, ACTION: Theme for the SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, includes an overview of the food-waste collection program.

With HMSHost replaced with numerous food-court tenants, the food-waste collection program was compromised in its effectiveness.

EXCESS-FOOD DONATIONS:
Donated food collected by the minister
Photo credit: HMSHost Concord Mills
Due to quality-control standards and a commitment to customer selection, edible yet not servable food is often a by-product of food-court operations. Weekly a local ministry collected the excess food that met the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. The ZWA Blog post, Food Waste Donation: Everyone Wins!, is an overview of the Concord Mills’ donated food program development.

The food-donation program was a HMSHost initiative and disbanded once their concessionaire contract terminated.

CHARLOTTE Ei PARTNER TOURS:
In March, 2013 HMSHost and Simon hosted their fellow partners for two days of education, fun, and camaraderie. The IMPACT Blog article, Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, gives a tours overview while the ZWA Blog article, Bring the Possible Out of Impossible, dives into zero-waste successes.

For pictorial recaps of the powerful two days visit the Ei FB albums: 03-04-13 Charlotte Ei Partner Tours – Day One & 03-05-13 Charlotte Ei Partner Tours – Day Two. To download the tours itinerary, attendees, and partner presentations, visit the Ei Partner Tours page.

... and beyond the food court the plastic-film recycling pilot is addressed in a later section.

SFCI - Georgia Dome Pilot
First SFCI-GD Team tour
In spring 2012, the Georgia Dome (GD) accepted the invitation to serve as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot. Along with the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) – fourth largest conference center in the nation – and Olympic Centennial Park, the GD 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.

As a Founding ZWZ Participant, the GD was well-acquainted with zero-waste practices. In December 2010, Tim Trefzer joined the GWCCA as the first sustainability manager and took the complex’s sustainability to new dimensions. The ZWA Blog article, GWCC Hits Recycling Stride, is an overview of Tim’s immediate impact on the GWCCA recycling practices.

The SFCI - GD Pilot page details additional zero-waste challenges unique to convention centers.

Levy Restaurants operated the GD foodservice outlets and joined the SFCI GD Pilot Team.

Below are some of the GD’s operational accomplishments:
  • Compostable packaging – Levy Restaurants used compostable foodservice items where practical (about 85% of items) when food is served in single-use packaging. Polystyrene foodservice items were eliminated from use in the facility.
  • China service in suites – Levy Restaurants used reusable plates, flatware, napkins, serving platters, and beverage cups & glasses in the suites and at catered events.
  • Condiment pump stations – Fans used self-service stations where condiments were dispensed in refillable pump containers. Pump stations eliminated individual condiment packets, a common contaminant in recycling and food-waste streams.
  • Tailgate Recycling – A  tailgate-recycling program was initiated with the 2012 season and supported by the Atlanta Falcons Recycling Partner.
REFINING FALCONS' RECYCLING PROGRAMS:
SFCI -GD Team ready to collect
compostable packaging  & food waste
In 2013, the SFCI - GD Team embarked on a quest to refine the Falcons' recycling programs. The three areas of exploration included: 1> increased tailgate recycling with a focus on privately owned lots, 2> post-game pilot where food waste & compostable products picked from the GD seating were delivered to a composting facility, and 3> creation of an on-site mini-MRF where separated material generated was baled for sale as a raw manufacturing material.

In November, the SFCI Team toured the pre-game tailgate festivities held in private and GWCCA-owned parking lots. During the game, Tim educated the team on game-day recycling practices in place. Post-game, the team scoured several seating sections for food waste and compostable packaging. The group collected 13 bags - 132 pounds of food waste & compostable products - and gained tremendous insights for creating a successful post-consumer food-waste collection program.

Doug & Holly ready to take
the collected packaging & food waste
to the Wilbros composting facility
Several days later SFCI Co-Chair Doug Kunneman and Holly transported the food-waste bags to the Wilbros composting facility in Toccoa, GA. The Wilbros folks agreed to monitor the decomposition of the food-waste bags, take pictures during the process, and report results to Ei.

The ZWA Blog article, Refining Recycling Practices at the Georgia Dome, details the activities related to refining recycling practices at the GD; the Ei FB album, Refining Falcons' Recycling Programs, gives a pictorial recount of the important work.

Creation of the GD mini-MRF is addressed in the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template section .

COMPOSTABLE F&B PACKAGING EDUCATION SESSION:
Doug & Tim at the Compostable
F&B Education Session
Ready to expand their recycling practices to the next dimension, Tim requested the Ei SMAT to present a comprehensive Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session to Levy Restaurants’ downtown-campus operations, including the GWCC, GD, Centennial Olympic Park, Phillips Arena, and the under-construction Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Under Doug’s direction, SMAT crafted a powerful two-hour session that included ample time for Q&A and discussion throughout the presentations. On April 8, 2015 the SMAT members 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 pictorial recap.

POST-CONSUMER FOOD WASTE:
The GD included post-consumer food-waste collection as one of three stated goals for the 2014 Atlanta Falcons Seasons. For the first stage, the post-consumer food-waste collection focus was on the Club Level. Establishing baselines | fact finding for the business-model development were completed during the 2014 season. During the 2015 season, a Club Level post-consumer food-waste collection pilot was implemented.

Beginning with the 2017 season, the Atlanta Falcons moved to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the GD was subsequently decommissioned after the 2016 season.

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

Group photo at the final
F&B Packaging Value Chain Meeting
For the final three years, Global Green’s D.C. office hosted the meeting. Ei orchestrated the 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 tremendous synergies, along with many joint pilots | programs, among the meeting participants. Beginning in 2015, the group convened with a two-hour conference call rather than a full-day meeting.

The Sustainable F&B Value-Chain Meeting website page gives a synopsis of each annual meeting along with meeting agendas, attendee lists and PPT presentations available for download. Links to the respective ZWA Blog articles and Ei FB albums with meeting recaps are included.


EPA Grant
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 the 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.

EPA Grant Team at the SPC
Advance Conference
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.

At the October 2015 SPC Advance conference Holly moderated the Scaling Up Composting in North America: Presentation and Working Session featuring the EPA Grant results | successes. A substantial discussion of food-waste-recovery options, challenges, and successes followed.

The ZWA Blog article, Sustainability: an industry defining itself, recaps the conference, including a feature on the Ei-moderated panel, while the Ei FB album, 10-15 GreenBlue’s SPC Advance Conference, is the pictorial recap.


Zero Food-Waste Journeys
On June 15, 2015, Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Atlanta Chapter (LDEI) agreed to partner with Ei on a zero food-waste journey at their prominent fundraiser Afternoon in the Country (AITC) hosted by the Inn at Serenbe. The ZWA Blog article, Afternoon in the Country embarks on zero food waste journey, announces the AITC zero-food-waste journey.

Doug & the LDEI ladies after the
first Zero-Food Waste Journey meeting
In addition, AITC Event Producer ideaLand secured a zero-food-waste commitment for 2015 RayDay hosted at Serenbe.

Integral to the Zero-Food-Waste Journeys success was an August 2015 two-hour Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session modified for annual outdoor events. Ei Partner EcoProducts provided compostable f&b packaging at a significant discount for the events.

Ei Supporter Let Us Compost (LUC) constructed an on-site food-waste compost pile as each event ended. Prior to the events, Ei obtained appropriate approval from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division for the on-site food-waste composting.

For pre-planning leading up to the events, visit the Zero-Food-Waste Journeys page.

RayDay
On October 11 the Ray C. Anderson Foundation (RCAF) hosted the third annual RayDay in a lovely Serenbe country meadow. Over 1400 guests celebrated Ray’s legacy, visited the plethora of educational booths, and enjoyed excellent cuisine served by The Food Movement (TFM) food trucks.

Approximately 1200 pounds of food waste were source-separated for on-site composting at Serenbe. The first-time success was flawless due to collaboration by the necessary parties: RCAF, ideaLand, Serenbe, TFM, LUC and the Ei SMAT.

Holly showcases the
EcoProducts signage
Photo credit: Scott Seydel
TFM brought their prep food waste to RayDay to ensure the event was zero-food waste from start to finish. Any remaining food meeting the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was donated to Second Helpings.

Prior to the event start, Ken Fraser with Eco-Products visited the TFM trucks to educate on the compostable packaging provided for serving food. Ken printed signage for each truck to educate the guests on the compostable packaging.

A key to RayDay zero-food-waste success was the Waste Ambassadors. Contracted by ideaLand, the Waste Ambassadors monitored each tri-bin waste station to assist guests with separating items for disposal … and the plan worked! There was minimal contamination in the food waste | compostable packaging brought to the compost area. Per LUC the only contamination was two latex gloves worn by the Waste Ambassadors.

As documentation is essential to creating a replicable template, the ZWA Blog article, Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero-food-waste success, recaps the RayDay zero-food-waste success; the Ei FB album 2015 RayDay is a pictorial recount of the successful journey.

Afternoon in the Country
Boyd Leake builds the compost pile
The November 8, 2015 AITC was the 15th Anniversary event, perfect timing to embark on a zero-food-waste journey!

Ei Strategic Ally Second Helpings stepped to the plate as the excess-food-donation team member. Myron Smith with Second Helpings agreed to educate AITC attendees on the importance of food donation and collect the excess food for delivery to local shelters.

A rainy event day, coupled with prior ten-days straight of rain, greeted event organizers, participants, and guests with tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the festivities.

Rainy, muddy conditions showcased lessons learned necessary to build a solid, effective zero-food-waste template for annual events. The majority of lessons learned related to stronger communication ranging from waste | recycling signage to Waste Ambassador training to the event compostable f&b packaging policy.

SMAT members were
drenched yet still smiling
For an AITC pictorial recount, visit the Ei FB album, Afternoon in the Country, a zero-food-waste journey.

The ZWA Blog article, Zero-Food-Waste Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned, recounts the AITC | RayDay journeys.

In November 2016 Ei Partner NatureWorks published the Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case studies; the case studies showcased the 2015 Ei Zero-Food-Waste Journeys at AITC and RayDay. The ZWA Blog article, NatureWorks publishes zero food-waste case studies, announces the case studies’ publication




Plastic-Film Recycling
The Ei Team assess the current plastic-
film scenario with Simon corporate
Synchronistic with Ei and Simon joining forces in 2011, the garment industry shifted from bulk retail packaging to individual clothing packages in clear plastic film. As film wraps around MRF sorting equipment, often causing costly delays in material separation, plastic film is considered a contaminant in single-stream recycling programs.

RESULT: Simon experienced higher landfill tipping fees from the tremendous increase in tenant-generated plastic film. Additionally, environmentally conscious tenants pressed Simon to address the plastic-film scenario.

Yet rebates (revenue) for clean plastic-film bales rival to exceed corrugated cardboard rates.

Thus, Simon was eager on numerous fronts to work with Ei on a plastic-film recycling pilot at the SFCI - Concord Mills. Ray Soporowski, Concord Mills General Manager, initiated tenant protocol for the drop-off of plastic film at a central location. Using an Orwak mini baler, night shift employees with ample available time baled the plastic film with only a minimal increase in labor costs. As they accumulated, the mini bales were sold to a local recycling company.

Concord Mills launched their successful plastic-film recycling program in August 2012. The film rebates, coupled with reduced landfill tipping fees, covered the baler and labor costs and improved the bottom line. The ZWA Blog post, ACTION: Theme for SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, announces the mall plastic-film recycling program.

Prepared by Ei on behalf of the Wrap Recycling Action Program, an American Chemistry Council Plastic-Film Recycling Group program, the Comparative Case Study: Plastic-Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls was officially released at the 2016 Annual Ei Partner Meeting. Essentially, the comparative case study documented Ei's work with Concord Mills and sister property SouthPark Mall on developing the first plastic-film recycling programs at malls.

The ZWA Blog article, Comparative Case Study: Plastic-Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls, announces the case study release along with an overview of the plastic-film recycling program development.


Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template 
Contamination is a Mistake

First S-SMRT meeting at the
Atlanta Penitentiary 
Large material generators commonly create on-site recycling profit centers where valuable material is source-separated and aggregated for sale in the commodities market.

Source-separated material recovery at moderate material generators is a recycling frontier filled with promise of economic and environmental benefits. With single-stream recycling often the only available system to the corporate community, the Ei Team developed a city-wide material-recovery template with Atlanta serving as the pilot city.

In simplistic terms, Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template (S-SMRT) encompasses the following steps:

  • Generators source-separate material on-site and compact into mini bales.
  • Hauler collects bales for transport to the recycling center.
  • Recycling center associates track material received by type | generator, re-bale into standard sized bales, and store in a tractor trailer by material type until full.
  • Hauler sells material directly to a manufacturing | recycling end destination and pays rebates to generators based on their respective percentage of the load sold.
  • Ei oversees the system to ensure the entire value chain makes a reasonable profit.
Financial template success is grounded in two factors: CLEAN MATERIAL & VOLUME.

Valuable industrial plastic film was a perfect first-step in the template creation as it is a contaminant in single-stream recycling. As previously stated, plastic-film rebates rival to exceed OCC (old corrugated cardboard) rates. Thus, the revenue is key to creating a solid business model for the S-SRMT.

For the Atlanta pilot, a stellar team of Ei Industry Experts and Pioneers worked together to unravel the challenges into a well-structured yet flexible template staged for duplication. The committed team included:
Orwak baler arrives at
FreshPoint

  • Orwak - a manufacturer of small balers, agreed to provide a complimentary baler for 90 days at the pilot launch site.
  • M-Pass - a recycling and materials management consulting company was staged to collect the small bales for delivery to a consolidation center. Additionally, M-PASS would oversee the pilot administration.
  • FreshPoint - national produce distributor with an Atlanta distribution center, accepted the pilot baler with the agreement to welcome fellow template participants for baler demonstrations.
  • Atlanta Penitentiary - agreed to use their prison-labor pool to consolidate small bales into standard-sized bales with their on-site baler; agreed to store plastic-film bales in an empty tractor trailer until full and ready for purchase.
  • Hilex Poly - a global leader in plastic-bag manufacturing was to contract with M-Pass for purchase of the tractor trailer load of baled plastic film at a consistent price.

The ZWA Blog article, If it was easy, it would already be done, introduces the S-SMRT and details the many challenges to unravel for success; the Ei FB album, Source-Separated Materials Recycling: building a city-wide network, chronicles the template-creation process.

Fresh Point
Owned by Sysco, FreshPoint was the nation's largest produce distributor with a strong sustainability commitment. As an early ZWZ Participant, FreshPoint had strong sustainability practices in-place and was eager to forge new recycling frontiers. 

FreshPoing associate wraps
a pallet with plastic film
On October 15, 2014 Orwak delivered the complimentary small baler. The S-SMRT Team was on-site to unveil the baler, survey plastic film collected and assist with making the first bales.  

Shrink wrap securing produce boxes on pallets for customer delivery was one of FreshPoint's largest plastic-film types generated. Prior to the pilot, the delivery labels were placed on the pallet after secured in shrink wrap. The labels were contamination for plastic film recycling. New procedures called for placing labels on the boxes prior to securing them with the shrink wrap. A simple procedure shift eliminated contamination.

Additionally, the the disposable plastic aprons used in FreshPoint's produce cut shop were recyclable within the colored plastic bales.

In the beginning the FreshPoint bales weighed roughly 60 pounds, less than half of the anticipated 150 - 200 pound bales. At Concord Mills, the bales averaged 175 pounds. Working with the FreshPoint associates on baling techniques, the bale weight increased to an average of 100 pounds. The remaining weight difference was due to the type of films generated at a mall versus a distribution center. Producing highly compacted bales was essential to maximizing the rebate revenue.

In early November, Tim and ATL Senior Sustainability Planner Liza Milagro visited FreshPoint to assess how plastic-film recycling may be implemented at their respective SFCI Pilots.

Filming in process
In late November the Ei film crew visited FreshPoint's distribution center for a morning of taping the plastic-film recycling procedures in action. Timed with the 2014 Annual Ei Partner Meeting, executives from FreshPoint, Hilex Poly, Orwak, M-Pass and the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council joined the film crew for interviews on their role in creating a city-wide plastic film recycling template grounded in solid business sense. The Ei Plastic Film Recovery Pilot @ FreshPoint video is the first version edited from FreshPoint's perspective.

The ZWA Blog article, Plastic-Film Recycling: A New Frontier, gives Ei plastic-film history along with a FreshPoint pilot update.


SFCI - GD
S-SMRT Team at Falcons game
When the SFCI - GD joined the S-SMRT Team, the pilot template expandd beyond plastic film to encompass common recyclable materials: aluminum, mixed paper, and PET. A goal was to create an on-site mini MRF the GD | GWCC.

During the August 8 Falcons pre-season game, Tim, Holly along with Louis Herrera and David Bangs of Hilex Poly visited the loading dock to check out existing recycling practices and examine the potential mini-baler site. 

In true team spirit, Roderick Jackson with UNICOR | Atlanta Penitentiary joined the S-SMRT at the  game. For success, Roderick must understand how material is generated, baled and transported to the Atlanta Penitentiary to create the most effective recycling-center procedures. 

First material bales
are collected for delivery
to the Atlanta Penitentiary
To build the material baseline, Tim requested an audit after the game by the GD waste and recycling contractor. Although relatively easy to determine the material generated via purchasing documents, the quantity of material separated for recycling versus sent directly to the landfill is necessary for the baseline. Understanding the contamination within the current recycling practices is another baseline component.

The ZWA Blog article, Sustainability in ACTION at the Georgia Dome, provides a template update including the opening pre-season Falcons game fact-finding mission.

Next Orwak delivered a multi-compartment complimentary baler for use in the GD S-SMRT pilot. By December the first bales of aluminum and PET bottles were ready for delivery to the Atlanta Penitentiary.

Total Materials Management Approach
Evaluating the entire materials stream in one cost | revenue center

Within Ei’s RR platform a Total Materials Management Approach is used. The stated objective is true zero waste with a strong focus on the ultimate material destination and the remaining “trash” within the stream. Materials with solid end markets (e.g. aluminum, mixed paper, certain plastics) subsidize more challenging streams generated in operations.

First standard-size bale at
the Atlanta Penitentiary
A Total Materials Management Approach for corporate recycling requires a consciousness and cultural shift within financial analysis practices. The approach is essential to the S-SMRT success

The ZWA Blog article, Total Materials Management Approach, introduces the approach along with an in-depth S-SMRT logistics update.

The Ei FB album, Source-Separated Materials Recycling: building a city-wide network, chronicles the template creation process.

Due to unforeseen circumstances ranging from promotions to long-term illness to business-model shifts to internal corporate politics, the S-SMRT was put on hold in early 2015. The foundation is built and ready for a new life at the perfect time!

U.S. Zero Waste Business Council
Ei was the official media partner for the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council along with their annual National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) from inception until the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) purchase in October 2016.

Ei-Hosted Panels
Beginning with the 2013 NZWBC, the second annual conference, Ei hosted a panel and began a trend at future conferences. As the panel host, Holly crafts a pertinent panel topic, recruits Ei Industry Pioneers Industry Experts, Strategic Allies, and  Advisory Council members to present on the panels, reviews panel PPT presentations to ensure seamless flow, and moderates the panel at the conference.

Below are Ei-hosted conference panels during the Era of RR:
Panelist PPT presentations are available for download at the respective linked pages.

In December 2016 the USGBC purchased the USZWBC to incorporate the Zero-Waste Facility Certification within their portfolio of industry certifications. Thus, Ei's work with the USZWBC was mission accomplished!

2014 NZWBC
As a conference partner and media sponsor, Ei played a leading role in bringing the 2014 NZWBC to Atlanta along with orchestrating the local flavor portion of the excellent program. Ei welcomed USZWBC Executive Director Stephanie Barger for a pre-conference visit and facilitated introductions to Atlanta's zero-waste leadership.

The following ZWA Blog articles substantiate Ei’s prominent role at the conference:
Holly receives an award:
Zero-Waste Promoter of the Year

In addition, the Ei FB album, 2014 USZWBC Conference in Atlanta, gives a pictorial recap of the conference.

Published Article
Pallet Central magazine cover
Written on behalf of the USZWBC, the Sept | Oct Pallet Central issue featured the Zero Waste Makes Good Business & Environmental Sense article on the front cover! Pallet Central is published by the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association and distributed to approximately 6500 members and industry colleagues.

The article is an introduction to embarking on the zero-waste journey along with first steps supported by economic, community and environmental benefits. The ZWA Blog article, Zero waste moves from “best” to standard operating practices, gives an overview of the important article along with the commentary on the zero-waste industry evolution.

GREASE
Mission: To develop & promote best business practices in the grease industry to maximize the cornerstones of sustainability: environmental consciousness, economic vitality, social responsibility, and health.

AKG Team on the roof
of ATL International Terminal
Launched in 2010, GREASE - Grease Recycling & Energy Alternative Solutions for the Environment - was formed to address the viability of the ZWZ Criteria. A criteria required participants to collect spent grease for the local production of biofuel. Ei Strategic Ally Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) worked closely with Ei on assessing the ZWZ Criteria and highest good destination for spent grease.

For an overview of GREASE 2010 | 2011 activities, visit the ZWA Blog article, GREASE: Activating the Zero-Waste Evolution.

When the NRA purchased the ZWZ in 2012, any revisions to the spent-grease-program criteria landed in their court. Complete with addressing the spent-grease destination, the GREASE task force went into a holding pattern.

In 2013, GREASE returned to action mode with the kitchen-grease focus expanded to the following:
SACE continued to share their expertise and support with GREASE. The SFCI Pilots teamed with GREASE to explore maximum efficiencies and use of grease generated in their foodservice operations.

Airborne Kitchen Grease
A proactive approach to a costly cooking by-product

Airborne grease and smoke generated as a by-product of kitchen operations are a fire hazard, an environmental concern, and costly to clean. Local and national regulations require commercial foodservice operations to install a kitchen-exhaust system (KES) that evacuates heat, grease, moisture, and smoke from the cooking area. Local codes require regular KES cleaning with timing dependent upon kitchen activity.


Inspecting the ATL rooftop
duct system
The current standard practice of KES grease maintenance is reactive in nature: grease builds-up within the KES followed by a system cleaning.

On average a complete KES cleaning uses 350 gallons of water along with toxic-cleaning agents necessary to remove grease from the system. In addition, the metal baffle filters are generally cleaned nightly, or at least several times weekly, requiring labor, water, and toxic-cleaning agents. On average, baffle-filter cleanings use 40 gallons of water plus toxic-cleaning agents.


Beyond the costs incurred by the foodservice operator, the reactive AKG approach is costly to the community and building owners:

  • F.O.G. – built-up F.O.G. in sewer systems may cause sewer back-ups into buildings, including homes, and overflow discharges onto streets. One of the main FOG sources is AKG deposited into the sewer system post-KES cleaning. Flushing KES-cleaning water into the kitchen drains results in an estimated annual 1.5 billion gallons of greasy toxic cleaning-agent-laden water flowing into local sewer systems.
  • Grease fires – according to the NRA, there are over 7,500 restaurant fires each year, resulting in over $250 million in damages, and over 100 injuries.
  • Roof damage – AKG deposits on the roof after it leaves the KES, causing costly roof damage.
  • Air quality – AKG that does not deposit within the KES or on the roof flows into the local atmosphere and impacts two of the six EPA Air Quality Standards: ground ozone and particulates.
Ei Partner Grease Lock Filters (GLF) manufactures a patented, disposable grease filter made from a proprietary blend of sheep’s wool. The filter is placed in front of the baffle filters. GLF collect over 98% of the kitchen-grease particulates before entering the KES. By eliminating grease build-up in the system, the nightly baffle filter cleaning is generally reduced to weekly; the number of third party contracted KES cleanings is significantly reduced.

grease caught in the filters
in Pei Wei's kitchen
As previously mentioned in the SFCI - ATL section, Pei Wei participated in the August 2013 An Independent Engineer's Report, Water, Chemical, and Cost-Savings in Commercial Kitchens report issued by Ei and GLF.

The AIRBORNE KITCHEN GREASE: A New Frontier in Sustainability, A simple solution saves tremendous water use, labor and dollars article was featured in the American Association of Airport Executives’ February | March publication of Airport Magazine. Holly was the author behind the article.

Due to the loss of support by the Ei Partner leading the important initiative, the Ei AKG Initiative was placed on a side burner in early 2017 and awaits revival. When ready for renewed action, the AKG Initiative groundwork is laid with a well documented implementation strategy.

WorldChefs
Founded in 1928 in Paris, The World Association of Chefs Societies (WorldChefs) is a dynamic global network of over 100 chefs associations representing the spectrum of chefs across the myriad of levels and specialties. The venerable August Escoffier served as first Honorary President.


Feed the Planet plenary panel
at 2018 WorldChefs Congress
In 2010 Holly met Chris Koetke, WorldChefs Feed the Planet Chair, at the International Foodservice Sustainability Symposium hosted at Kendall College in Chicago. A WorldChefs' initiative, Feed the Planet is designed to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and professionals.

As previously mentioned, the following year Chris presented on the Ei-Hosted 2011 NRA Show panel, COMPOST: The Quiet Hero Returns. Over the years, Chris and Holly developed a close relationship built on mutual respect.

Waste & Recycling Course Curriculum
The WorldChefs' Sustainability Education for Culinary Professionals course is a Feed the Planet initiative that teaches chefs how to think and act sustainably, to lead positive change for the planet, and improve profitability in the kitchen; the course is a cost-free WorldChefs member benefit.

Screenshot of the WorldChefs'
Sustainability Course page
In 2015 Chris requested Ei to provide the Waste & Recycling curriculum for the course. Working closely with the SMAT as well as an Ei intern, Holly submitted a 50+ page PPT presentation; the slides were complete with photos | visuals, instructor notes, links to supporting documentation for presented facts, and a glossary of industry terms.

Three points were provided on the In Summary page:
  • Materials have value; trash has cost.
  • Zero-waste practices make good business sense.
  • Sustainability provides a competitive edge on many levels.
The WorldChefs Waste | Recycling Course Curriculum website page includes additional details on the curriculum along with a link to download the abbreviated PPT presentation.

WorldChefs' Food Waste Challenge
In late 2017, Chris invited Ei to serve on the WorldChefs Food Waste Challenge (FWC) Committee as an industry-expert advisor. The FWC was launched at the 2018 WorldChefs Congress hosted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Holly presenting at the
2018 WorldChefs Congress
At the 2018 WorldChefs Congress, the final educational plenary program was dedicated to Feed the Planet. Presentations focused on the current global food-waste scenario along with empowering programs committed to evolving the seemingly broken food system. After the "big picture" presentations, the focus narrowed down to local, effective initiatives and case studies on food-waste reduction in culinary operations.

Leading up to the FWC launch, Holly presented on The Profitability of Waste: the business case for food-waste reduction to the global audience of prominent chefs. Holly's slides mirrored the back-of-the-house food-waste reduction documentation she drafted for the committee.

The four main back-of-the-house operating sectors, along with a key phrase for waste reduction, were presented:
  • Purchasing - Close relationships with purveyors help prevent food waste.
  • Food Prep - Strong training & mentorship programs prevent food waste.
  • Food Storage & Equipment - Consistent training & equipment-maintenance programs prevent food waste.
  • Menu Planning - Conscious menu planning helps prevent food waste.
Specific examples of potential food waste within each of the above operating sectors were included in Holly's PPT presentation, which is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.

Proven steps for getting started with a back-of-the-house food-waste reduction program were included:
  • Create a baseline of the quantity of food waste generated.
  • Determine why | how food waste was generated – is the waste preventable?
  • Identify “easy-win” first steps. 
  • Develop a staged-in game plan filled with lots & lots of baby steps.
  • Set-up a metrics-tracking system to quantify waste reduction and cost-savings.
  • Importantly, remember to Keep It Simple!
Holly receives her speaking
certificate & an engraved chef's knife
In the second half of Holly's presentation, Ei Supporters Ted’s Montana Grill, Affairs to Remember, and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority | Levy Restaurants were featured in the case studies.

The RiA Blog article, Feed the Planet: an empowering WorldChefs initiative, gives an overview of the plenary session; The Profitability of Food Waste: the business case for food waste reduction article gives an overview of Holly’s presentation by the same name and features the Ei Supporter case studies.

The Holly Elmore Images FB album, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 2018 Visit, includes a section on the 2018 WorldChefs Congress & Expo along with sections on Holly's guided and self-guided KL tours.

Post-Congress, Feed the Planet joined the Ei Strategic Ally program and Ei was listed as a Collaborative Partner on the Feed the Planet site footer.

Ei Tours
Prior to embarking on program | practice development, Ei strives to understand current industry practices and baselines. Tours of industry-leader operations is an effective, efficient, and fun avenue for garnering education and support.

Ei Industry Tours
Beyond a plethora of MRF, food-waste composting sites, recycling & manufacturing plants, corporate or university campus-recycling programs, and foodservice operations, Ei hosted industry tours with potentially unique applications. The Ei Industry Tours page details tours during the Era of RR.

South Georgia Farm Tours
WOP fifth generation
Proprietor Will Harris
In May 2012 a group of Ei Partners and friends traveled to South Georgia for farm tours. Learning about the farm’s practices and assessing the current scenario for protein-transport packaging were the catalysts for the trip. Ei chose family-run farms committed to sustainability and animal welfare at the core of their ethics and operations.

The farms, White Oak Pastures (WOP) and Thompson Farms Smokehouse, are Whole Foods suppliers and meet the stringent Whole Foods 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards with a 5+ designation. The ZWA Blog article, Consumer Demand: A Powerful Voice to Affect Change, chronicles the empowering tours.

For a pictorial recap of the farm tours, see the Ei FB albums, 05-14-12 White Oak Pastures Tour, and 05-15-12 Thompson Farms Tour. WARNING: Some Thompson Farms photos are graphic yet honor the process and the livestock who gave their lives to fulfill consumer demand for animal protein.

Tennessee State-Prison Tours
Federal and state prison systems are a strong potential labor and facility resource for RR systems in the development phase.

TN Prison Tour group picture
In September 2013 an entourage of Ei Partners, Supporters, and pals converged on Tennessee in late September to meet Fred Roach of TRICOR (Tennessee’s prison-employment system), tour operations, and explore synergies | opportunities. It was a fascinating several days.

The ZWA Blog post, Prisons: Valuable Resource for Recycling Refinement Systems?!, provides a brief history of the Ei | TRICOR relationship and an overview of the impressive tours; the Ei FB album, 09-13 TRICOR TN Prison Tours, is a pictorial recap.

Ei Partner Tours
Ei Partner Tours were an excellent opportunity for the Ei family to gather for two days of tours, education, camaraderie. and fun.

A fun group photo during the
first Ei Partner Tour in Indiana
With few to no competitors among the Ei Partners, the synergies were tremendous along with an openness to share internal operations and programs. An added benefit of Ei Partner participation was the strong business potential among partners. Selling was not permitted within Ei introductions. Yet relationship development that segued naturally into business transactions was highly encouraged. Strong business relationships developed during the Ei Partner Tours.

Below is a list of the Ei Partner Tours, along with a link to the website post with the supporting article as well as the FB album link:
Ei Annual Partner Meetings
During the Era of RR, Ei Partners, Friends, Strategic Allies and Advisory Council Members traveled in late November from across the nation for the Annual Ei Partner Meeting. It was a powerful day filled with education, updates, camaraderie along with great food and wine.

The Ei Partner Meeting website page includes links to the respective IMPACT Magazine articles and Ei FB albums for each meeting. Additionally, PPT presentations as well as meeting agendas and attendees are available for download in the respective listings.


Ei Connects
Ei plays a valuable industry role by introducing organizations and individuals who share synergies for powerful relationships and action. During the Ei RR Era, the following prominent Ei Connections were valuable contributions to ongoing industry events and working relationships:
GWCCA intro to the EPA FRC
  • EPA Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) – Ei introduced the EPA to Atlanta foodservice industry leaders in a series of meetings when the program launched in 2014.
  • EPA Scaling-Up Composting Grant – Ei’s strong Charlotte connections stemming from SFCI – Concord Mills work was a solid contributor to the grant success.
  • F&B Packaging Value Chain Meetings – Ei brought together trade association and non-profit executives from the entire sustainable f&b packaging-value chain each December 2011 through 2014 for a day of vibrant dialogue and sharing in Washington D.C.
  • 2014 NZWBC – Ei played a leading role in bringing the 2014 NZWBC to Atlanta along with orchestrating the local flavor portion of the excellent program.
The Ei Connects page lists additional empowering connections orchestrated by Ei. 

Ei: respected journalism
In 2016 Ei segued from a valuable media and industry resource into respected environmental journalism. A few years earlier press interview inquiries validated Ei as recognized industry media. ... and then the prominent invitation arrived in early November:
The U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22 preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.
HollyElmore.com homepage
In June 2016 Holly, author of the Ei blogs, launched HollyElmore.com as home to the Fingertip Press. When she publishes a blog article, Holly writes a FB post beginning with “PREVIEW: Hot off the Fingertip Press an article …” Thus, the Fingertip Press evolved into Holly’s nomenclature for her published articles, documents, and other written communication.

Over the decade the Ei Blogs - The IMPACT and Zero Waste in ACTION, gained significant readership momentum with a strong global audience. As of this article-publish date, the IMPACT Blog boasts 172,500 views while the ZWA is closing in on 450,000 views. The most popular ZWA Blog article is Reduce First, Donate Second, Compost Third with 16,700 individual-article views.

Along with the Ei Blogs, the Fingertip Press page features published articles in third-party magazines and industry documents prepared by Ei.

Mission Accomplished
In June 2017 Ei announced the Era of Recycling Refinement was Mission Accomplished. Thus, Ei embarked on the Era of Regeneration where Soil Health | Regenerative Agriculture and Water Use | Toxicity are the primary focus areas.

The Ei FB album, A Decade of Impact: Era of Recycling Refinement, gives a pictorial recount of the activities documented in this article.

The third and final article in the series, A Decade of Impact: Era of Regeneration, introduces the new era and chronicles accomplishments as well as current work-in-progress.

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