an Elemental Impact on-line magazine
Atlanta Airport Presents a Proactive Approach to Airborne Kitchen Grease
Airborne grease and smoke generated as a cooking by-product are a fire hazard, an environmental concern and costly to clean. Local and national fire safety regulations require commercial foodservice operations to install a kitchen exhaust system to evacuate heat, grease effluent, moisture and smoke from the cooking area. Generally consisting of a hood, baffle filters, ducts and exhaust fan, the kitchen exhaust system must be monitored and maintained in accordance with the codes.
AKG in kitchen exhaust
Most kitchen exhaust systems are inspected monthly or quarterly and require a system cleaning due to grease build-up. On average an exhaust system cleaning uses approximately 350 gallons of water along with toxic cleaning agents. In addition, the metal baffle filters are generally cleaned nightly, requiring labor, water and toxic cleaning chemicals. On average 40 gallons of water is used for nightly baffle filter cleaning.
In the American Association of Airport Executives' February | March publication Airport Magazine article, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) presents a proactive approach to Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG). The AIRBORNE KITCHEN GREASE: A New Frontier in Sustainability, A simple solution saves tremendous water use, labor and dollars article is in the Airport Magazine Asset Management department.
Feb | Mar 2014
By capturing the AKG before it enters the kitchen exhaust system the nightly baffle filter and entire system cleanings are significantly reduced. Another cost-savings is the reduction in roof repairs & maintenance due to little to no AKG flowing through the kitchen exhaust system.
Elemental Impact Partner Ellis Fibre developed the patented, disposable Grease Lock Filters (GLF) made from a proprietary blend of fire retardant wool. Installed in front of the baffle filters, GLF capture 90 - 95% plus of the AKG before entering the kitchen exhaust system. The filters are easily replaced when filled with grease.
The ZWA Blog article, Zero WATER Waste: more than a goal, a necessity, introduces the foundation of Ei's Water Use | Toxicity Platform along with a GLF overview. Within the Water Use | Toxicity Platform, Ei is creating a Proactive AKG Approach template. In the ZWA Blog article, Airborne Kitchen Grease, a simple solution to a costly kitchen by-product, Ei establishes the four action steps in template development:
Grease-laden filter next to a
For a pictorial account of Ei's AKG template development, visit the Ei FB album, Airborne Kitchen Grease, a costly cooking by-product,In early 2013 HMSHost - ATL participated in a three-restaurant, eight-week pilot to substantiate the cost-savings experienced by the foodservice operator when using GLF. The Water, Chemical, & Cost Savings in Commercial Kitchens By Using Grease Lock Filters, A Report on Restaurant Pilots is downloadable on the Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease page. Impressed with the pilot results, HMSHost installed GLF in additional ATL concessionaire operations.Tim Slaney, HMSHost ATL senior director of operations, provided the following quote for the AAAE article:
- Fire Safety
- Metrics Platform
- Filter End-of-Life
“We have had great success using the GLF system—it produces energy and cost-savings, and is good for the environment and for us. We are constantly seeking ways to create efficiencies and minimize environmental impact. The GLF system achieves a cleaner system and improves air quality. We use it at several of our restaurants at ATL.”
In August 2013 the Ei GREASE - Grease Recycling Alternative Solutions for the Environment - Team met with the ATL sustainability, concessionaire and facilities departments to review the GLF pilot report and strategize on action points.
Ei GREASE Team meets
with ATL associates
Enthusiastic about the potential airport | concessionaire roof repair & maintenance, water, labor, and cleaning cost-savings, ATL embarked upon a campus-wide GLF installation business case justification study. If implemented, ATL will be the first airport worldwide to take a proactive AKG stance.
As documented in the AAAE article, a campus-wide GLF installation would save ATL an estimated 1.1 million gallons of water usage annually. Each of the 80+ concessionaires would experience approximately $7,300 in cost-savings per year. In addition, an estimated 42,000 pounds of AKG would not deposit on ATL roofs nor release into the atmosphere.
From an environmental perspective, the water used for cleaning in the current reactive AKG scenario is laden with grease and toxic cleaning agents when released into grease traps or directly into sewer systems.
AKG released into the atmosphere is harmful to air quality and impacts two of the six EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards: Ground Level Ozone and Particulate Matter. Note the Metro Atlanta area is not in attainment of these two standards. Ei is in the exploration stage to determine if the AKG air quality impact is significant.
Atlanta Air Quality Image
courtesy of Creative Loafing's
Bad air days
Kudos to ATL for taking an industry leadership role with a proactive approach to AKG. Thank you Michael Cheyne, ATL director of sustainability and asset management, for devoting your February | March AAAE Asset Management Column to AKG. The article was co-written by Michael and Ei founder Holly Elmore with Liza Milagro, ATL senior sustainability planner, and Jordan Salpietra of Ellis Fibre | GLF substantiating the ATL-specific estimates.
Airborne Kitchen Grease is a new sustainability frontier where ALL WIN: the foodservice operator, the facility, the community and the environment. With Industry leaders like HMSHost and the Atlanta Airport - the busiest airport in the world - at the helm, a proactive AKG approach will spread like wild fire, so to speak!
Airborne Kitchen Grease: a simple solution to a costly kitchen by-product
Elemental Impact's definition of waste expands beyond material | by-products generated in operations to include resources, specifically water. In the ZWA Blog post, Zero WATER Waste: more than a goal, a necessity, the foundation for Ei’s Water Use | Toxicity Platform is established.
Airborne Kitchen Grease is a
by-product of culinary operationsIn alignment with an Ei mantra: Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done, the Ei Team explores areas of significant corporate water consumption where technologies exist to reduce or eliminate water usage. Equipment investment must be offset by water and other cost-savings with a reasonable ROI – return on investment.
The initial focus is on water reduction in areas where the “spent water” released into sewer systems or other waterways is laden with toxic chemicals. Thus, water use and toxicity are addressed in unison. Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG) is a perfect starting point for Water Use | Toxicity initiatives.
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 to evacuate heat, grease effluent, moisture and smoke from the cooking area. Generally consisting of a hood, baffle filters, ducts and exhaust fan, the kitchen exhaust system must be monitored and maintained in accordance with the codes.
ATL Airport concessionaire mgr
Kyle Mastin learning about AKG
Most kitchen exhaust systems are inspected monthly or quarterly and require a system cleaning due to grease build-up. On average an exhaust system cleaning uses approximately 350 gallons of water along with toxic cleaning agents. In addition, the metal baffle filters are generally cleaned nightly, requiring labor, water and toxic cleaning chemicals. On average 40 gallons of water is used for nightly baffle filter cleaning.
Ei Partner Ellis Fibre (EF) manufactures a patented, disposable grease filter that is placed in front of the baffle filters. EF's Grease Lock Filters (GLF) collect 90% plus of the kitchen grease particulates before entering the kitchen exhaust system. By eliminating grease build-up in the system, the nightly baffle filter cleaning is generally reduced to weekly; the number of third party contracted kitchen exhaust system cleanings are often required annually, down from monthly or quarterly.
Installed Grease Lock Filter systemFor details on the GLF system, visit the ZWA Blog article, GREASE: a new frontier filled with economic & environmental promise .To maximize impact, Ei is developing a city-wide AKG initiative. Addressing four key areas is the first step in template creation:
Fire Safety:First and foremost is fire safety. Before GLF approached Ei, fire safety was thoroughly addressed. Made from a patented, proprietary-blend of sheep's wool and other natural fibers, the filter is naturally oil absorbent and flame resistant. The filter composition allows GLF to keep the grease out of the hood and increase restaurant fire safety.
- Fire Safety
- Metrics Platform
- Filter End-of-Life
Certified to UL Standard 1046, GLF will not support combustion. Grease collected on the filter may flare-off if excessively heated or subjected to flames; however, when the flame source is removed the filter will self-extinguish and is replaced with a new filter.
Grease accumulation in the
kitchen exhaust systemGLF is tested, compliant and/or recognized by the following:
With fire safety addressed, the next step is to ensure GLF improves a foodservice operator's bottom line.Cost-Savings:To substantiate and quantify the water, labor and toxic chemical savings, Ei joined forces with Compliance Solutions International for a three-restaurant, eight-week GLF system pilot. The Water, Chemical, & Cost Savings in Commercial Kitchens By Using Grease Lock Filters, A Report on Restaurant Pilots prepared by Jay Parikh, CSI president is downloadable on the Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease page.
- Standard UL 1046/ULC-S649 & UL 710 – Flame Exposure & Abnormal Flare-Up Test
- NFPA 96 / IFC – Ventilation Control & Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations
- NSF 2 / ANSI 51 – Food Equipment & Materials-Formulation Review (Sanitation/Toxicology)
- TYCO – World Leader In Fire Suppression Systems
- IMC/UMC - Protects Public Health & Safety For All Building Ventilation Design
GLF | HMSHost Team day
before the GLF installationThe comprehensive report documents the impressive water, chemical and labor savings experienced by the participating restaurants. In each case, the restaurant’s bottom line improved by using GLF due to reduced cleaning of the baffle filters and the entire kitchen exhaust system.In addition to the documented labor, water and chemical savings in the report, the facility experiences reduced fire risk and repairs & maintenance due to less grease accumulation within the exhaust system and the roof ventilation area. The community benefits from reduced emissions due to fewer full-exhaust system cleanings by a third party who travels to the kitchen.Metrics Platform:Program success is substantiated by quantifiable data. For the GLF system, measurable success is multi-faceted for the foodservice operator, building owner and the community.The foodservice operator experiences cost-savings from reduced third party full-system cleanings, labor for baffle filter cleaning, and water usage. Easily quantified, GLF is building a metrics collection platform that calculates and presents the savings in a simple format for the operator.In addition to single-operator reports, the platform aggregates savings by companies, territories or whatever other filters are added to the system. The intention is to also track the tremendous water savings for a metro area.
Later template stages will incorporate roof repair & maintenance savings, lower carbon emission from fewer truck miles driven for cleanings, reduced toxic cleaning agents sent to the sewer systems, and improved community air quality due to reduced grease particulates released into the atmosphere from the exhaust system.Filter End of Life:
GLF is working with Ei Strategic Ally the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on testing the filters for compostability. Current industry standards | certifications for compostability are designed for foodservice packaging, not filters made primarily of sheep's wool. Based on preliminary trials at composting facilities along with an ingredient review, GLF is confident the filters will meet the yet-to-be-determined compostability tests.
Grease-laden filter next to
new filterThe grease collected by the filters is a potential valuable GLF system by-product. In the next months, extraction tests will determine the value compared with the effort required to remove grease from filters as a usable commodity.With a scenario where all parties benefit - foodservice operator, facility owners, communities and the environment - Ei is developing a strategic plan for a metro-wide GLF installation. Atlanta is the template pilot city.
As the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Airport Pilot, the Atlanta Airport takes a leading role with a potential campus-wide GLF installation. Ei Partner HMSHost participated in the above reference pilot with Pei Wei in the Atlanta Airport International Terminal. Impressed with GLF performance, HMSHost installed the system in additional Atlanta Airport locations.
SFCI Team @ ATL AirportAn Atlanta Airport campus-wide GLF installation is estimated to reduce water usage by 1.1 million gallons per year and on average save each concessionaire $7,500 per year.
For GLF installation pictorial recaps at the Atlanta Airport, see the Ei FB albums, 02-20-13 Grease Lock Filter Pilot Tour and 04-17-13 SFCI Team Tour - ATL Airport Int'l Concourse.Airborne Kitchen Grease is a new frontier in sustainability. Water usage reduction is the first quantifiable step followed by eliminating significant amounts of toxic cleaning agents from entering the sewer system. Final steps address the airborne grease particulates not dispersed into the atmosphere, impacting air quality.
ZWA Blog articles will chronicle action taken, success achieved and how challenges evolve into lessons learned. Within frontiers, pioneers develop the most effective paths and create new standard practices. Kudos to the Atlanta Airport and HMSHost for taking the leadership role as Airborne Kitchen Grease pioneers!
Refining Recycling Practices at the GA Dome
As the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Event Venue Pilot, the Georgia Dome is committed to refining existing recycling practices. In their role as a Founding Zero Waste Zones Participant the Dome built a strong recycling foundation when the program launched in February 2009. Working with the SFCI Team, the Dome is exploring avenues to refine existing practices that increase recycling rates and maximize material value generated at events.
In September Elemental Impact founder Holly Elmore joined Tim Trefzer, Georgia World Congress Center Authority director of sustainability, on a game day recycling tour with the new Falcons Stadium architects. It was an inspiring day to witness solid recycling practices in-place along with opportunities for program evolution. The ZWA Blog article, Winning Recycling Seasons Require Team Work, is recap of the game day tour.
Beginning with the 2012 season, Ei Partner Novelis stepped into the Falcons Recycling Partner role. First action steps included installing two brightly decorated eight-yard recycling dumpsters in the four GWCCA-owned parking lots used as pre-game tailgating venues. For the 2013 season Novelis provided outdoor & indoor recycling bins. The Novelis bins complement the Coca-Cola bins in service for the past years.
With much of the proverbial "low hanging fruit" addressed, the SFCI Team is in a fact finding mode to understand the next best steps on the Recycling Refinement journey. Three areas of exploration include: 1> increased tailgating recycling with a focus on privately owned lots, 2> post-game food waste & compostable products picked from the Dome seating for composting destination and 3> creation of an on-site mini-MRF (materials recovery facility) where recyclable items generated are baled for sale as a raw manufacturing material.
SFCI Co-Chair Doug Kunnemann,
Melissa Selem (Ei) & Matt
Bedingfield (Novelis)@ dumpster
On Sunday, November 10 SFCI Team members toured pre-game festivities on Falcons Landing and tailgating in private and GWCCA-owned parking lots. Since the September visit, the Dome added recycling bag dispensers on the Novelis dumpsters. Most folks are happy to participate in recycling, as long as it is easy!
It appears little to no recycling is in-place at the privately owned tailgate lots. Under Keep Mecklenburg County Beautiful executive director Jake Wilson's direction, the Carolina Panthers tailgate recycling program is a huge success. With the tailgate lots privately owned, Jake orchestrated an outstanding team consisting of public & private entities working in unison towards the common recycling goal. Jake is happy to share his expertise with the SFCI Team; a goal is to replicate the Panther's model for the privately owned lots near the GA Dome. The ZWA Blog article, Panthers Winning Recycling Season, is an overview of the successful program.
Ei has a strong Charlotte presence and works closely with Jake on many fronts. The IMPACT Blog article, Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, along with the ZWA Blog articles, Bring the Possible out of Impossible, and Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC, document Ei's on-going work in the Charlotte area.
When complete with the pre-game observation and fact finding mission, the Team walked the GA Dome back & front-of-houses noting the recycling practices in-place. Tim educated the group on current systems along with potential near-term upgrades. Although there are ample recycling bins, strategic placement may be enhanced in several areas including the executive level.
Falcons Game Tour Group
see Ei FB album for names
Recycling bins placed next to trash cans in general yielded a reasonably clean stream. Yet the trash cans often contained PET and aluminum bottles. Additional signage that complements the Dome decor may improve recycling rates.
As the game ended several additional SFCI Team members joined the group to pick selected seating sections of food waste and compostable products fans left behind. The group collected 13 bags - 133 pounds of food waste & compostable products - and gained insight for creating a successful post-consumer food waste collection program.
Ei Partner Heritage Bag donated a case of their BioTuf Compostable Bags for the food waste & compostable packaging collection. The bags were sturdy and perfect for the job at hand.
Post-game group ready to pick Dome
see Ei FB album for names
Insights during the "bowl picking" included:
- Though the majority of the food and beverage packaging is compostable, there is more "trash" packaging than anticipated. Condiment containers | wrappers and subcontractor vendor packaging were the majority of contaminants for compost facility destination.
- Most of the compostable food boxes | trays included a liner - there is confusion whether the liner is compostable.
- The majority of the collected material was packaging and the bags were bulky, rather than the dense nature of pre-consumer food waste. On average the bags weighed around ten pounds when full.
The food waste and compostable packaging bags were stored in the GA Dome loading dock. On Tuesday November 12 Doug Kunnemann, SFCI Co-Chair, and Holly met Tim at the Dome loading dock to transport the food waste bags to the Wilbros Organics & Biofuels food waste 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. Upon delivery, the Dome material was placed at a windrow end for easy monitoring.
Doug & Holly collecting bags
for delivery WilbrosAccording to Keaton Thompson, Wilbros compost operations manager, the food waste, packaging and bags immediately began the decomposition process, reaching 138 degrees within 72 hours. Ten days later the windrow temperature reached 146 degrees and decomposition was clearly visible. By December 3 the Dome material was well on its way to transforming into valuable, nutrient-rich compost.Current bowl picking practices include collecting PET and aluminum bottles in a blue recycling bag with the remainder of the material collected in a black trash bag. The blue bags are placed in the recycling compactor for transport to Waste Pro's local MRF where the material is separated, baled and sold in the commodities market.
Pratt Tour GroupEach Falcons game approximately 35,000 programs and 140,000 promotional flyers are distributed among the seats. The majority of the valuable fiber is landfill destined. Ei Partner Pratt Industries operates a cardboard mill within 20 miles of the Dome where cardboard is made from 100% recycled material. In June 2013 Ei hosted a Pratt Mill Tour for Tim and Michael Cheyne, Atlanta Airport director of asset management and sustainability, to learn about the local option for paper | fiber generated at their respective facilities. Note the Atlanta Airport is the SFCI Airport Pilot. Novelis Tour GroupWithin the vision of on-site source-separation is selling recyclable items as a raw material to local manufacturing operations. The Novelis aluminum recycling plant located in Greensboro, GA is another local option for valuable material generated at Dome events. In early October 2013 Tim and Holly toured the Greensboro plant to experience the aluminum recycling process.
For a pictorial recap of the GA Dome's pioneering efforts in Recycling Refinement, visit the Ei FB album, Refining Falcons' Recycling Programs.
Integral to Recycling Integrity - maintaining maximum material value with minimal energy expended - is on-site source separation and local material destination. The GA Dome along with its sister facilities the GA World Congress Center and Centennial Olympic Park are in the initial steps of refining their recycling practices to a program that maximizes material value, uses minimum energy and improves the bottom line.
Plastic Film Recycling: A New Frontier
A common Ei phrase is: "Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done." Embarking on a metro-wide plastic film recycling template pilot epitomizes the phrase.
For most corporate entities, single-stream recycling is the only recycling option available for materials and by-products generated during operations. Although a valuable commodity, plastic film is a contaminant in single-stream recycling. The film wraps around machinery, often causing costly sorting delays.
Large plastic film generators compact the material into standard bales weighing 750 pounds to 1,000 pounds. For Piazza Produce, plastic film rebates rival corrugated cardboard as the top revenue producing material at their zero waste facility in Indianapolis. To learn about Piazza Produce's impressive zero waste program created by facility manager Scott Lutocka read the ZWA Blog articles, Zero Waste is a Team Sport and Source Separation Key to Maximum Recycling Profits.
Plastic film recycling among moderate generators is a frontier where infrastructure must be developed, within the company and the community. Many moderate generators use a sixty inch downstroke baler for their corrugated cardboard baling. When using the large baler for plastic film, the company must accumulate 750 plus pounds of plastic film for one bale. The logistics and space requirements to aggregate the film is not practical for most smaller producers.
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, consisting of the Ga Dome (home to the Atlanta Falcons), Olympic Centennial Park (20 acre park commemorating the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics) and the Ga World Congress Center (fourth largest convention center in the nation), is a moderate plastic film generator.
Ei Team poses in front of a
GWCC plastic film filled container
Several years ago GWCCA director of sustainability Tim Trefzer experimented with baling plastic film generated at the complex. After one large bale, Tim understood the benefits did not justify the required logistics.
Small balers play a vital role in aggregating plastic film for collection where moderate amounts are generated. Depending on the type of plastic, small balers produce easy-to-manage 100 to 200 pound bales.
Elemental Impact first began working with Orwak small balers when Ei Partner HMSHost embarked on a milk jug recycling program at their Atlanta Airport Starbucks locations. On average the milk jug bales weigh 60+ pounds. HMSHost found the rebates from selling used milk jugs in the commodity market offset the baler and labor cost inherent within the program. The ZWA Blog post, Milk Jugs Recycled at Atlanta Airport, is an overview of the successful program launch. Note the Atlanta Airport is the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Airport Pilot.
milk jugs in baler
@ ATL Airport
Next on the agenda was tackling plastic film recycling via internal company programs using on-site small balers. In 2011 Simon Property Group - the nation's largest mall and commercial real estate owner - joined the Ei Partner Program to develop zero waste practices at their malls, with a focus on plastic film and food waste. Synchronistic with Ei and Simon joining forces, the garment industry shifted from bulk retail packaging to individual packages in clear plastic film. RESULT: increased landfill tipping fees from the tremendous increase in tenant-produced plastic film.
In August 2012 Concord Mills, the SFCI Mall Pilot, launched their successful plastic film recycling program using an Orwak mini baler. The film rebates, coupled with reduced landfill tipping fees, cover the baler and labor cost and improve the bottom line. The ZWA Blog post, ACTION: Theme for SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, announces the mall plastic film recycling program.
With single-location plastic film recycling success, Ei embarked on creating a city-wide plastic film recycling template pilot. Using lessons learned from the Zero Waste Zones 2009 launch, Ei understood how to develop a moderate generator network that results in route density and sufficient film quantity to sell material by the tractor trailer load. Thus, pilot pioneers share in the higher market value for volume sales. The small baler is a necessary template component.
bagged plastic film ready for
baling @ Concord Mills
In simple terms, the city-wide game plan is to recruit 10 - 12 industry pioneers who generate a moderate amount of plastic film in their operations. Using a small baler, the pioneers collect and bale plastic film on-site for periodic collection. A local hauler collects and delivers the small bales to a warehouse. The small bales are re-baled into standard size larger bales and stored in an empty tractor trailer. Once full, the plastic film is sold by the tractor trailer load as a raw material to a plastic bag manufacturer. Atlanta serves as the pilot city for the plastic film recycling template.
The ZWA Blog post, If it was easy, it would already be done, announces the city-wide template along with listing the inherent challenges within the groundbreaking program.
Pilot pioneers are critical pilot team members. Working closely with the Ei Partners, the pioneers develop the internal systems necessary to collect the plastic film produced at their facility. Creative solutions to the operational and other challenges are integral to template development. Top management buy-in as well as employee engagement are required ingredients for success.
First meeting @ FreshPoint
introducing the pilot
FreshPoint of Atlanta is the template founding pioneer. Owned by Sysco, FreshPoint is the nation's largest produce distributor with a strong sustainability commitment. As an early ZWZ Participant, FreshPoint has strong sustainability practices in-place and is eager to forge new recycling frontiers.
Ei Partner Orwak offered a complimentary small baler during the pilot trial period. On October 15 the baler was delivered to FreshPoint's Atlanta distribution center. The Ei Team was on-site to unveil the baler, survey plastic film collected and assist with making the first bale.
Delivery of the Orwak baler
for the trial period
While going through the collected plastic film, the team realized there was a significant amount of colored film that required a separate bale to maintain maximum material value. A fun surprise was the disposable plastic aprons used in FreshPoint's produce cut shop were recyclable in the colored bales.
Shrink wrap securing produce boxes on pallets for customer delivery is 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 are contamination for plastic film recycling. New procedures call for placing labels on the boxes prior to securing them with the shrink wrap. A simple procedure shift eliminated contamination.
In the beginning the FreshPoint bales weighed roughly 60 pounds, less than half of the anticipated 150 - 200 pound bale. At Concord Mills, the bales average 175 pounds. Working with the FreshPoint associates on baling techniques, the bales now average 100 pounds. The remaining weight difference is due to the type of films generated at a mall versus a distribution center. Producing highly compacted bales is essential to maximizing the rebate revenue.
Stuart Herman w/ Orwak
removing first plastic film bale
For the template pilot, Ei intends to invite 10-12 pioneers to join the plastic film recycling team. The GWCCA, Georgia Institute of Technology and the Atlanta Airport were invited and are exploring the feasibility of invitation acceptance. On November 6, Tim Trefzer with the GWCC and Liza Milagro, Atlanta Airport senior sustainability planner, visited FreshPoint's distribution center to understand the ease of collecting and baling plastic film in an industrial setting. In late December Ei founder Holly Elmore and Lorraine White of M-Pass met with Cindy Jackson, GA Tech waste & recycling director, and her team to introduce the plastic film recycling template pilot.
In addition to inviting pioneers, a next pilot step is to identify a recycling center location where the mini bales are re-baled into standard sized bales and stored in a tractor trailer until sold. In December Holly and Lorraine met at the U.S. Penitentiary - Atlanta with the local UNICOR folks to determine if synergies aligned to provide the recycling center facility and labor. As a second step in the evaluation process, Holly met with federal UNICOR associates in Washington D.C. later in the month.
UNICOR is the federal prison system employment arm. The ZWA blog article, Prisons: Valuable Resource for Recycling Refinement Systems?!, introduces the potential synergies for partnering with prison systems, along with outlining Ei's relationship with UNICOR and TRICOR, the Tennessee prison system employment arm.
Lorraine White with local
UNICOR folks @ ATL Penitentiary
Determining the types of plastic film produced among the various generators in a metro area is another action point within the template development. The goal is to invite a broad cross section of generators - distribution centers, hotels, airport, event | convention facilities, malls - to understand first-hand the types and quantities of plastic film produced in an urban district. Working with Ei Partner Hilex Poly, an industry leading manufacturer of plastic bag and film products, the pilot team will balance the labor required to separate plastic film type versus the material value. The intent is for Hilex Poly to purchase the plastic film by the tractor trailer load as a raw material for their manufacturing process.
Documentation is integral in template development, especially when the long-term intentions are to duplicate the program across the nation and expand source-separated material collection beyond plastic film to the components in single-stream recycling. The Ei FB album, Plastic Film Recycling: building a city-wide network, published as a comprehensive pictorial recap of the action to date in the city-wide plastic film recycling template pilot. The album is structured so it will accumulate the pictorial story as the template is built.
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 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.
Ei Chair Scott Seydel
filming Preston Fletcher w/ FP
ACTION is underway in this monumental template development. By creating new in-house practices and community infrastructure, the city-wide plastic film recycling template is staged to evolve corporate recycling options beyond single-stream. The pioneers are gathering to forge pathways into the a new recycling frontier. Stay tuned!!!
Tackling the Challenges | Barriers to Sustainable Packaging
In December Ei orchestrates the Annual Sustainable Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meeting where the challenges | obstacles to sustainable packaging are addressed. Global Green hosts the important meeting at their D.C. offices. Meeting invites are extended to the trade associations and non-profits who operate within the F&B packaging value chain.
2013 Partial Group Picture
(Ei FB album lists names)
Each year the meeting discussions exemplify the shifts and growth in an evolving industry. The ZWA Blog article, Second Annual F&B Packaging Meeting, is an overview of the 2012 meeting. For a recap of the inaugural 2011 meeting, visit the ZWA Blog article, Sustainable Foodservice Packaging Meeting.
Anchoring the value chain organizations are the following participating trade associations:
Numerous non-profits who work in arenas impacting food & beverage packaging attended the meeting:
- Foodservice Packaging Institute & Glass Packaging Institute - represent packaging manufacturers.
- National Restaurant Association - represents the food & beverage packaging purchaser who holds the power of consumer demand to effect change; foodservice operators bear the increased costs often inherent within shifting to sustainable packaging.
- U.S.Composting Council - represents the final destination in this life cycle for compostable packaging.
- DC Environmental Network
- Elemental Impact | Sustainable Food Court Initiative
- GreenBlue Institute | Sustainable Packaging Coalition
- Green Seal
- Global Green | Coalition for Resource Recovery
- Institute for Local Self-Reliance
- Sustainable Biomaterial Collaborative
(Ei FB album lists names)Many meeting participants joined Ei Chair Scott Seydel for a pre-meeting dinner at Logan Tavern. Great food and lively, fun dinner conversation set the stage for the powerful meeting the following day.In the morning, each organization presented on their mission, stakeholders, 2013 activities and finished with planned 2014 projects. The meeting agenda, PPT presentations and attendee list are available for download on the Ei Meetings & Events page.Lack of consistency and confusion within the value chain was a consistent challenge interwoven within presentations. To create common ground several organizations are in various development stages for packaging standards, tool kits and other educational mediums. These documents are designed to assist the entire value chain - from manufacturers to foodservice operators to recycling and composting facilities - with decision making that aligns with emerging best sustainable packaging practices.
Linda Chipperfield presenting
Green SealCompleted documents include Green Seal Standard #35, Foodservice Packaging, NRA Recycling Tool Kit, and ILSR | Ei Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet prepared for the SFCI - Atlanta Airport. The USCC received a grant for a Compostable Plastics Tool Kit and the request for proposals is issued for 2104 work. Noting a frequent disconnect between packaging designers and effective end results, the SPC lists a Design Guide for Foodservice Packaging as 2014 projected work.Industry working groups are another common thread among the participating organizations. In 2012 FPI formed the Paper Recovery Alliance and Plastic Recovery Group, which work on parallel yet complementary paths.The NRA formed the ConServe Sustainability Advisory Council comprised of environmental leaders from 14 restaurant and food service businesses spanning the value chain. Several Ei Partners and Advisers serve on the NRA Council. In 2013, the SPC created the Foodservice Packaging Leadership Committee focused on recovery.Understanding the flow of packaging during the recovery process was a focus area for CoRR and FPI in 2013 and continuing into 2014. Working with the American Chemistry Council, the Association of Post-Consumer Plastics Recyclers, the Carton Council and the National Association for PET Container Resources, FPI is interviewing 50+ MRFs - material recovery facilities - to benchmark current foodservice packaging recovery including final destinations. Within the boundaries of proprietary agreements, FPI intends to share the results with industry counterparts.
Green Seal is in the midst of the GS Pilot Standard for Sustainable Chicago Restaurants development with the final revised Standard due for publication in February 2014. As of December 11, six restaurants are certified under the new Standard. The NRA is relaunching the NEW Zero Waste Zones in Atlanta following the program purchase from Ei in late 2012.
Bryan Vickers of the GPI
during his presentationDuring her presentation, Brenda Platt with ILSR | SBC made an astute observation: End of USE is the appropriate term versus the common End of LIFE used in the industry. The ZWA Blog article, Perpetual Life Cycle Systems - Simplicity is Key, further discusses Brenda's comment.With updates and presentations complete, the meeting segued into a powerful industry strategy session focused on the challenges | barriers to sustainable packaging. As participants are well-acquainted from prior meetings and industry events, the group discussion was candid, honest, respectful and geared towards common goals.
Lynn Dyer of FPI presentingStrategy session topics flowed into several subject matters: Recyclable vs. Compostable vs Reusable, Policies & Regulations, Contamination, Best Practices, End Markets, Outreach | Education and Working Together | Collaboration.Food contamination is a major obstacle for recyclable food & beverage packaging and gives strong support for compostable options. In recent curbside research, FPI found food waste contamination at acceptable levels for most recycling operations. The group will continue research, observation and dialogue throughout the year on the topic. A 2014 goal is a common industry voice for the recyclable vs. compostable choice. Most participants agree reusable food & beverage serviceware are preferable when practical.Overall the group supports public policy and regulations mandating recycling and food waste diversion from the landfill. A sufficient grace period is important for infrastructure development. In addition to public laws, the group is in favor of contractual provisions between landlords | facility managers and service contractors | tenants that require action necessary for successful zero waste programs. Janitorial contract provisions specifying collection services that minimize contamination and maximize material value is a high priority.
Independent third party certification is important for developing programs; the group supports BPI Compostable Packaging Certification as the industry standard for compostable packaging. Packaging labels to assist the consumer with desired disposition was a strong discussion point. The SPC takes a leading role in labeling with their How2Recycle label initiative, which is up to 21 participants.
Anne Bedarf with the
SPC during strategy sessionA group goal is industry best practices development. Diverse end markets and infrastructure in various locals is a challenge to standard packaging templates and best practices creation. The general consensus is program development must be at the local level yet based on an existing broad sustainable packaging foundation. The SPC Essentials of Sustainable Packaging educational workshop offers a comprehensive introduction to sustainability considerations that apply to the entire packaging life cycle: material sourcing, packaging design, manufacturing, transport, and final disposal.
Ei Administrator Melissa Selem
documenting the discussionsStrong end markets, whether recycling or composting, are the driving force for successful packaging programs. Though there were few specific discussion points on end markets, Lynn Dyer with FPI pointed out the entire session was dedicated to creating a valuable packaging End of Use, whether recycling or composting destined. The other topics are the building blocks for strong end market development.In many circumstances sustainable packaging is more expensive than existing packaging and increases costs for food & beverage departments within a large facility or tenants in an event venue, office building, mall or other facility. Yet the switch to sustainable packaging shifts the disposition from waste to a material, saving on compactor pull charges and landfill tipping fees. In general, reduced materials management fees are realized by the facilities department or venue landlord | management company.
Lily Kelly of Global Green
during strategy sessionThere was discussion on the disparity between those incurring the increased packaging cost and those benefiting from the disposition cost-savings. Unless required by contract or lease provisions, most food & beverage departments or outlets do not incur the additional expense without sharing in the disposition savings. An equalizing of the costs | benefits within the value chain is required for sustainable packaging to emerge as standard packaging.Throughout the discussions, synergies among various programs and initiatives were apparent and the respective organizations made a point to further discuss working together, if not doing so already. In addition to the Annual Meeting, the group decided a midsummer conference call is important to enhance communication and strengthen work-in-progress.
Great food and fun are integral to Ei's successful meeting model. Thanks to Whole Foods catering, the group was treated to delicious, healthy food for a light breakfast, substantial lunch, dessert afternoon break, and importantly an ending wine reception. Compostable packaging was used and Melissa Selem, Ei Program Administrator, delivered the meeting food waste and packaging to Whole Foods for composting prior to the finale dinner.
DC Eco-Warriors @ reception
(names in FB album)For the meeting pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB album, 2013 F&B Packaging Value Chain Meeting.An emerging industry in the evolution process, sustainable packaging is ready for best practices, tool kits, educational material and templates for the food and beverage industry to adopt and follow. The Annual Sustainable Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meeting brings together the industry leaders who address the challenges | barriers to sustainable packaging becoming standard packaging. Stay tuned for exciting announcements as the industry continues to evolve!
Scaling up composting in Charlotte, NC
It is official: The Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a project of GreenBlue, is the recipient of an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IV grant to scale up composting in the Charlotte, NC area. The grant is an excellent opportunity for public | private partnership with government (federal, state, & local), non-profits, educational institutions and private enterprise to work in unison on common ground.
The following is an abbreviated grant outline:GOAL: Promote co-composting of food and packaging wasteOBJECTIVES:1) Demonstrate the functional feasibility and community benefits of co-compostingFood &Paper Waste (waste diversion, methane generation avoidance, and material reuse: waste generator education; identification of some important co-composting process variables; and creation of a marketable compost product;2) Benchmark typical F&PW feedstock characteristics;3) Collect economic and environmental data about F&PW composting; and4) Disseminate findings to stimulate new programs nationwide.TASKSTask 1. Route OptimizationTask 2. Enlistment and Training of ParticipantsTask 3. Waste Collection and TransportTask 4. Composting, Monitoring, and EvaluationTask 5. Characterization DataTask 6. Final Report and Dissemination
SPC senior manager Anne Bedarf spearheads execution of the grant goals, objectives and tasks. As an industry veteran, Anne recruited a superb team to support the SPC in Charlotte. University of North Carolina Charlotte, IDEAS Center, Earth Farms Organics and Elemental Impact are sub-grantees under the SPC umbrella. In addition, the NC Division of Environmental Assistance, Mecklenburg County and Waste Reduction (a private company that works closely with the Mecklenburg County food waste group) are active team members.
Anne Bedarf &
Ei founder Holly Elmore
In anticipation of grant funding, the team met for a strategy session during the 2012 Carolina Recycling Association’s Food Waste Conference in Charlotte. Discussion centered around how to most effectively utilize the grant for permanent, long-term action. Route density was emphasized as critical to create systems grounded in solid business sense.
With Mecklenburg County support, UNC Charlotte utilized student availability to produce a draft Route Optimization Report. As pilot participants are determined the report will evolve into its final format. Per the introduction, below is the report scope:
This particular task of the project aims to utilize Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology to (i) identify and map facilities known to employ compostable food containers or have a corporate strategy that would support it, (ii) identify and map an initial set of facilities in the area of North Charlotte which are potential participators during the first phase of the program, (iii) suggest optimal pickup routes and schedules for this initial set of pickup locations in order to maximize capacity and minimize cost, and (iv) address considerations for future program extension in terms of site.On October 01, the team convened for their first official conference call to develop action points within grant goals, objectives and tasks. Unfortunately, the call aligned with the federal government "shutdown" and the EPA folks could not participate. Each participant educated the group on their Charlotte connections along with their planned contributions to the grant pilot. Most of the general discussion centered around the prime pilot participants to recruit.
The core group will meet via a call every three weeks to develop and accomplish a solid action plan. Google Docs provides an excellent document sharing platform for effective, timely communication. In March, the team intends to meet in-person coinciding with the 2013 Carolina Recycling Association Food Waste Conference in Asheville followed by a Charlotte visit.
Steam releasing while the windrows
are turned @ Earth Farms
Ei is honored and thrilled to join the SPC grant team. With the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Shopping Mall Pilot located in the Charlotte area, Ei has strong Charlotte working relationships. Along with the local SFCI team, Ei worked closely with Jim Lanier of Earth Farms on back-of-the house food waste collection for composting at the pilot mall, Concord Mills. The ZWA Blog post, ACTION: Theme for SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, recaps the food waste collection journey as well as other zero waste initiatives.
In March 2013 Ei Partners HMSHost and Simon Property Group hosted the Charlotte Ei Partner Tours for two action-packed days of tours, presentations and camaraderie. The IMPACT Blog post, Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, recaps the Charlotte visit and is supported by the Ei FB album. 03-04-13 Charlotte Ei Partner Tours - Day One.
On the second day, the Ei Partners toured SouthPark Mall, Earth Farms' composting site and the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport where HMSHost operates the foodservice operations. The ZWA Blog post, Bring the Possible out Impossible, details the presentations and tours, including the Earth Farm tour. For a pictorial recap of the tours, visit the Ei FB album, 03-05-13 Ei Charlotte Partner Tours - Day Two.
Laurette Hall w/ Linda Dunn
of HMSHost @ Ei Ptr Tours
Ei works closely with Mecklenburg County. For the Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, Laurette Hall - Mecklenburg County director of sustainability - joined the tours on the first day and Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful executive director Jake Wilson was with the group for both days.
Scaling composting up in Charlotte is staged for success. The EPA grant is an excellent opportunity to showcase the magic inherent within public | private partnerships. Stay tuned as The ZWA Blog will chronicle the road to success!
Recycling Refinement: moving beyond landfill diversion
Elemental Impact is committed to creating operating practices where integrity is 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 is the core of Ei’s foundation and expertise.
As the Zero Waste Zones steward, Ei served as a “zero waste cheerleader” educating the commercial consumer on the important role recycling plays in best business practices. Beyond environmental concerns, recycling programs often are profit centers, especially for larger generators, improve employee morale and are expected by customers.
With the late 2012 National Restaurant Association ZWZ purchase, Ei evolved from a cheerleader to working with zero waste veterans on refining recycling practices. The ZWA Blog post, National Restaurant Association Acquires the Zero Waste Zones, announces the program purchase.
In the early years, zero waste measurement was in diversion rates from the landfill without consideration of the final destination. Single-stream recycling, common as the only recycling service available, results in material contamination and a high percentage of the stream landfill destined. Note effective single-stream MRF – material recovery facilities – separation is limited by the contamination within the delivered material.Ei Strategic Ally Container Recycling Institute's 2009 Understanding Economic and Environmental Impacts of Single-Stream Collection Systems white paper documents how single-stream systems achieve their goal of increasing "diversion rates" yet result in decreased actual recycling due to contamination. The ZWA Blog post, Single-Stream Recycling: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, summarizes a 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency webinar on single-stream recycling challenges and fallacies.In the ZWA Blog post, Beyond Landfill Diversion, material destinations are further explored to ensure long-term integrity is maintained as new recycling systems are developed. As documented in the ZWA Blog post, The Perpetual Spiral, extending a material's end of life is not recycling and is only one step away from landfill destination. An example of extending life, versus recycling, is sending waxed cardboard - not recyclable nor compostable - to "fire log" manufacturing. Without diving into the possible toxins involved in manufacturing and burning the logs, the use gives a false sense of environmental stewardship.At the core of Ei's Recycling Refinement platform is moving beyond a landfill diversion focus to maximizing material value. The entire supply chain must work in unison to create systems grounded in solid business sense and bottom line improvement. The ZWA Blog post, Supply Chains Critical Role to Zero Waste Success, discusses how zero waste pioneers work closely with their suppliers to ensure packaging and other product components are returnable, reusable and | or recyclable.
Intertwined within Recycling Refinement is Recycling Integrity - maintaining maximum material value with minimum energy expended. With an emphasis on source-separation at the material generation site, Recycling Integrity demands organizations understand the final destination, including the journey along the way, of by-products inherent within their operations. A common industry by-product is transport packaging.
simple, on-site mini MRF
The ZWA Blog post, Source-Separation Key for Maximum Recycling PROFITS, highlights several industry leaders who created impressive recycling profit centers via their on-site mini MRFs.
Working with industry pioneers, the Ei Team is refining existing recycling programs to source-separate material at the generation point and sell it as a raw material to manufacturing operations. Plastic film is an easy win in Recycling Refinement; the valuable material is considered a contaminant in single-stream recycling programs and is in general landfill-destined. Decreased tipping fees coupled with rebate revenue from clean, baled plastic film show promise to cover the additional equipment and labor cost to bale plastic film on-site.
An Atlanta Ei Team is developing a city-wide plastic film recycling template designed for duplication across the nation. In addition to assisting the industry pioneers with on-site plastic film baling, the Ei Team is creating local infrastructure and markets. Once the plastic film recycling template is built, the infrastructure is destined to expand to other materials with minimal time and resource investment. The ZWA Blog post, If it was easy, it would already be done!, announces the Atlanta city-wide plastic film recycling template pilot.
plastic film in mini baler @
SFCI - Shopping Mall Pilot
Recycling Refinement is an exciting frontier with promise to create systems where the entire value chain benefits along with the community and the environment. Stay tuned for more tales along the RR journey ...
Creating Value through Zero Waste
In August the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council announced Atlanta is the host city for their annual conference May 7 & 8, 2014. The ZWA Blog post, Atlanta: Host City for the 2014 U.S. Zero Waste Business Council Conference, introduces Atlanta as an ideal host city with a summary of zero waste achievements and gives an USZWBC overview.Learn best practices from Zero Waste Businesses andequip your business for Zero Waste Success!May 7 & 8th, 2014 - Atlanta, GA
As a conference partner | media sponsor, Elemental Impact works closely with USZWBC executive director Stephanie Barger and the Conference Planning Committee. In mid-September, Stephanie visited Atlanta for a whirlwind of introductory meetings orchestrated by Ei founder Holly Elmore. It was a fun, powerful two plus days jam packed with back-to-back meetings, many at Atlanta's amazing dining destinations.
Ei Program Administrator with
Stephanie @ Watershed
Ei Supporter Republic Services welcomed Stephanie to Atlanta in grand style with a lovely, informative dinner at Watershed. Lively conversation was filled with strategies on how to maximize the 2014 conference impact for the USZWBC, the City of Atlanta and most importantly the zero waste industry. With Stephanie in sponsorship dialogue with Republic at a national level, it was synergistic to meet the local team.
The first full meeting day started at the Weston Buckhead, the conference host hotel. With strong sustainability and zero waste practices in-place, the hotel staff was eager to work with Ei on refining current recycling practices prior to the conference.
Lunch at The Optimist with Suzanne Burnes, Sustainable Atlanta executive director, was inspiring! Discussions are in-process for Sustainable Atlanta's formal role co-hosting the conference. In addition to introductions for potential speakers and panel members, Sustainable Atlanta would serve as the focal Atlanta organization driving conference support by local non-profits, government, civic organizations and the powerful global companies with Atlanta corporate headquarters.
Stephanie & Suzanne @
Next on the schedule was meeting Cindy Jackson - Georgia Institute of Technology waste & recycling director - along with campus recycling coordinator Maria Linderoth. After introductions, Cindy took the group on a tour of their award-winning recycling program - impressive! The 2012 Ei FB album, Ga Tech hosts GWCCA, is a pictorial recap of GA Tech's recycling practices from a tour Cindy hosted for Georgia World Congress Center Authority director of sustainability Tim Trefzer.
With Atlanta's eco warrior Laura Turner Seydel opening the conference as the keynote speaker, the next introduction meeting was with Laura's publicist Ron Slotin of Trio Media Group. Zero waste intertwine within Laura's powerful environmental platforms. After all, Laura is Ei's environmental adviser and was the Zero Waste Zones chair when the program launched in 2009.
Cindy, Stephanie & Maria with
Ei Partner CleanRiver recycling center
Atlanta zero waste icon Steve Simon of Fifth Group Restaurants was the ultimate host for a phenomenal dinner at Lure. In October 2009 Steve was featured in the New York Times front-page article Nudging Recycling from Less Waste to None for his monumental achievement at Ecco, Atlanta's first dumpster-free restaurant! The dinner was a reunion as Steve spoke at a 2009 workshop Stephanie coordinated in Maryland.
On the second day Tim welcomed Stephanie to the GWCCA campus for a back-of-the-house tour of the established recycling practices at the nation's third largest convention center, the Atlanta Falcons home and 20-acre Centennial Olympic Park.
A seasoned speaker, Tim is committed to a conference presentation, yet choosing among Tim's many accomplishments may prove difficult. In April 2012 the Georgia Dome hosted the 2013 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®, the second most popular sporting event across the globe. One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." The ZWA Blog post, Final Four: green footprints continue after the games ..., recaps the ALOC green success under Tim's sustainability leadership.
Stephanie & Tim @
The GWCCA Recycling Center
As the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Event Venue Pilot, the GA Dome is committed to refining recycling practices initiated as a ZWZ Founding Participant. The ZWA Blog post, Winning Recycling Seasons: Team Work Required!, chronicles game day recycling practices in-place during the first 2013 season Falcons home game. Hmmm.... maybe one presentation is too limiting for Tim!
Next on the introduction meeting agenda was lunch with Beth Bond of Southeast Green, the voice for the Southeast's sustainability successes. Outdoor dining at Fontaine's Oyster House served as the perfect spot to discuss the potential SE Green USZWBC media sponsorship.
Formal business ended over coffee at the eclectic San Francisco Coffee House with Bob Peoples, Carpet America Recovery Effort executive director. Ei Chair Scott Seydel agreed to moderate a conference panel on carpet recycling. Challenges abound with carpet recycling and industry conferences are excellent vehicles for exploring creative solutions.
Bob & Stephanie @
The San Francisco Coffee House
Keeping a low carbon footprint, Holly and Stephanie enjoyed a long walk through Atlanta's urban neighborhoods to discuss next action steps. The evening ended with dinner at locally owned Basil's, a short walk to Stephanie's hotel and Holly's condo.
The Ei FB album, 09-13 USZWBC ATL Visit, chronicles the busy two days in a pictorial recap.
Creating Value through Zero Waste is the perfect conference theme. As astute business leaders know, zero waste practices improve the bottom line; shifting from a waste management to material management perspective makes solid business sense. With early planning, the 2014 USZWBC Conference is staged for tremendous success with the conference participants, Atlanta and the zero waste industry benefiting.
Prisons: Valuable Resource for Recycling Refinement Systems?!
Federal and state prison systems are a strong potential labor and facility resource for Recycling Refinement systems in the development phase. Within RR systems, existing recycling practices are evolved to maintain maximum material value with minimal energy expended.
Closed TN State Prison
(filming site for The Green Mile)
Often prison grounds, both inside and outside the fence, contain underutilized buildings that may serve as recycling centers. With a captive pool of inmates eager to work, prisons are staged for promising public | private partnerships grounded in the WE Consciousness, where all parties benefit. Note the WE Consciousness was introduced in the ZWA Blog post, Zero Waste is a Team Sport.
When The Ohio State University achieved their incredible 98.2% recycling rate in the 2012 football season game, the state prison sorted, baled and sold the stadium-generated material.The OSU Zero Waste video, produced by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, is a recycling program overview including the prison partnership.
As documented in the ZWA Blog post, Source-Separation is Key to Maximum Recycling PROFITS, Elemental Impact is a strong proponent of on-site source-separation at the material generation point. Several years ago astute industry leaders launched a trend where in-house waste & recycling centers evolved into recycling profit centers; thus, the impetus of new industry standards.
Small balers aid in source-
separating @ the material generator
Adopting industry operating practices that improve the bottom line is necessary to maintain a competitive market edge and in alignment with management's fiduciary responsibility to corporate stockholders. The U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, along with many industry trade associations, share recycling success stories and support those embarking on the zero waste journey.
Ei is embarking on a city-wide recycling network template that makes solid business sense for the entire value chain. Cost-effective labor and warehouse space are key to the network development. The ZWA Blog If it was easy, it would already be done!, introduces the city-wide plastic film recycling template pilot, a first step in an overall recycling network.
With a federal penitentiary located near downtown Atlanta, Ei hopes synergies are abundant with UNICOR - a division of the Federal Prison Industries that seeks to employ and provide job skills training to the greatest practicable number of inmates confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Ei | UNICOR strong relationship began with Ei founder Holly Elmore met Bob Tonetti - UNICOR's Recycling Business Group general manager - at the 2010 Georgia Recycling Coalition Conference.
UNICOR | Ei 2011 lunch
In August 2011 the Ei Team, including Ei Chair Scott Seydel, met with the UNICOR folks in Washington D.C. and laid the foundation for future projects. Ei strategizes with UNICOR on expanding penitentiary recycling programs beyond the current electronic recycling offered.
UNICOR program manager Frank Hurst and Holly keep in close contact, both excited to discover a way to work directly together. In July 2013 Frank referred his long-time UNICOR co-worker and friend Fred Roach to Holly. Retired from UNICOR after 26 years of service, Fred joined TRICOR - Tennessee's prison employment agency. Here is a quick TRICOR overview:
Mission: To prepare offenders for success after release.
TRICOR tractor @ dairy farm
Vision: We are a preferred source of skilled labor for the workforce in Tennessee.
- Customer-focused culture
- People first
- Lead by example
- Right today, better tomorrow
After several months of conference calls and strategy sessions, a group of Ei Partners, Supporters and pals converged on TN in late September to meet Fred, tour TRICOR prison operations and explore synergies | opportunities.
First on the agenda was an introductory meeting in Chattanooga with TRICOR & Ei Supporter Republic Services to plant seeds for future discussions. Boyd Leake of Community Environmental joined Holly and Fred for dinner to prepare for the following two tour days.
The next morning the entourage visited the TRICOR Dairy Farm on the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikesville. With 180 cattle, the hardworking dairy farm supplies milk for the approximately 20,000 inmates in the statewide system. After the farm tour, the group toured the recycling practices in place at the prison along with the food waste composting site.
The dairy farm cattle were
healthy and happy
Following the BCCC tour, Ei Partner Amy Moreland of Heritage Interactive Services joined the group for dinner in Nashville to discuss the dairy farm tour along with an overview of the next day's multiple tours. Nathan Jones of American Textile Recycling Services attended the dinner to learn how textile recycling may play a role in future programs.
In the morning the group toured the impressive Cook Chill plant that prepares the food for the entire prison system. Executive chef | production manager Nigel Cox runs an efficient operation and ensures maximum quality food is prepared within the limited budget. Although cardboard recycling is in-place, there are abundant opportunities to create a recycling profit center at the Cook Chill plant.
Next was a visit to TRICOR’s TN Logistics Center where the state auto license tags are produced by female prisoners. The energy in the facility was amazing - it was evident the woman were appreciative of their employment status.
The final official tour was the TRICOR scanning center within the TN Prison for Women where the group observed the ladies dismantling and scanning a vast inventory of documents for electronic storage. In addition, a call center is set-up and awaiting a contract with private enterprise to begin operations. In-prison culinary and cosmetology programs help provide the female inmates with valuable skills for employment upon their release.
Boyd, Amy & Fred
@ tours end
With the tours complete, the group dined at the Nashville Farmers Market where they discussed next action steps. Fertile seeds are planted for endeavors on many fronts within and in partnership with the TN prison system.
For the a pictorial recap of the impressive tours, visit the Ei FB album, 09-13 TRICOR TN Tours.
Prison systems are an opportunity to create powerful private | public partnerships where ALL benefit, especially the inmates. Prison employment programs prepare released inmates with the skills necessary to live a fruitful, law-abiding life. The third leg of the sustainability stool - social consciousness - provides the program stability required for success.
Winning Recycling Seasons: Team Work Required!
As the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Event Venue Pilot, the Georgia Dome is committed to the teamwork necessary for Atlanta Falcons' winning recycling seasons. Fact finding tours to witness current practices in action are an excellent first step to refining recycling practices closer to the coveted zero waste threshold.
Georgia World Congress Center Authority sustainability director Tim Trefzer hosted a front and back-of-the-house GA Dome game day recycling tour for Elemental Impact founder Holly Elmore during the September 15 Falcons | Rams game. New Falcons Stadium designers, Carlie Bullock-Jones of EcoWorks Studio & Chris DeVolder of ThreeSixty Architecture joined the fun and informative tour. Beginning with Falcons Landing, the group visited pre-game festivities.
Falcons Tailgate recycling dumpsters
Next on the tour was tailgating in one of the three GWCCA-owned parking lots. While giving away koozies, the Rise Up & Recycle Team circulated throughout the parking lot encouraging fans to recycle. In the 2012 season, Novelis - Falcons recycling partner - provided two brightly colored recycling dumpsters for each parking lot. The colorful dumpsters continue to broadcast a bright recycling message in their second season.
New Novelis-provided recycling bins made their debut inside and outside of the stadium at the 2013 season first home game. With fans prohibited from bringing beverages into the Dome, the bins are a haven for valuable aluminum and PET - polyethylene terephthalate, a common plastic used for carbonated beverages and bottled water containers.
Tim next to the new indoor
A strong zero waste foundation is in place at the Dome, a founding Zero Waste Zones participant. Pump stations are used for condiments with only mayonnaise provided in individual disposable packets, a common containment in food waste for composting streams. Levy Restaurants, the Dome's concessionaire, serves food & beverage in compostable packaging for most items.
The SFCI Team is exploring solutions for remaining food & beverage "trash" items including the roasted peanut bags. At first glance, either existing products or creative solutions are available for the items.
Event best practices are strong in the GA Dome suites. Levy Restaurants serves food in reusable platters, bowls and chafing dishes along with china plates, stainless flatware, cloth napkins and beverage glassware service. Recycling bins are installed in the back countertop of each suite.
Pre-packaged game day beverages are served in recyclable material - aluminum & PET. Post game the bowl is cleaned with the beverage containers collected in blue bags for placement in the recycling compactor. Each game approximately 35,000 game programs (pre-game every other seat beverage container is stuffed with a program) and 140,000 promotional flyers (every seat container receives two flyers) are destined for the landfill.
Pre-packaged beverages are
sold in recyclable containers
Although it appears a simple task to collect the program and flyers post-game for recycling, challenges abound. Post-game bowl cleaning is performed via a contracted janitorial service. The janitorial company is only required to separately collect paper products if the task was included as a contract provision during the RFP - request for proposal - process. Another challenge is the constantly changing hourly staff employed to clean the stadium.
Although arduous in the first years, the Portland Trailblazers developed an effective stadium cleaning program. SFCI Team Members Asean | StalkMarket and NatureWorks worked closely with the Trailblazers on untangling the challenges into success and are eager to share their expertise with the GA Dome.
Falcons programs &
The tour included a visit to the loading dock area for recycling in action with the cardboard baler, food waste bins for compost collection and the recycling compactor.
For a tour pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB album, 09-15-13 Falcons Recycling Tour.
Subsequent to the GA Dome tour, Tim and Holly traveled to the Greensboro, GA Novelis aluminum recycling plant. It was impressive to witness first-hand how a can travels through the chipping, baking to remove inks & other contaminants and melting process necessary to make an aluminum ingot. Each batch is tested to ensure specific recipes for the ingot's product destination are followed.
Greensboro plant ingots are shipped to a Novelis facility in Kentucky for rolled aluminum production, a raw material in beverage can manufacturing. Once an ingot leaves the Greensboro plant, aluminum cans return to the recycling plant in an average sixty days for yet a another material reuse.
Novelis tour group
The SFCI - GA Dome Team is staged for ACTION! At an upcoming home game, team members will "pick" several sections of the Dome for food and beverage waste along with the associated compostable packaging. In addition, food and beverage-related items not compostable will be collected in a separate bag for later analysis. The local composter will place the Dome compostable bags filled with post-consumer food waste in a designated area to monitor it during the decomposition process.
With the new Falcons Stadium scheduled to open in the 2017 Season, the SFCI - GA Dome Team intends to work closely with the new stadium design team. Lessons learned during the Dome's recycling refinement may be incorporated into the new stadium design. With all parties playing well together, the first Falcons Stadium season is staged for recycling wins before, during and after games and other events.
SFCI-GA Dome Executive Team
... and by the way, the Falcons won the September 15 game against the Rams!