an Elemental Impact on-line magazine
What Can Be Done!
In 2010 Elemental Impact (Ei) was formed as the home for the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), a program launched in 2009 within the Georgia Restaurant Association umbrella. The ZWZ epitomized the Ei mantra:Ei is a creator, an incubator.
ZWZ Participants were true pioneers as the nation's forerunner in the commercial collection of food waste for compost. With the tremendous media coverage - a CNN story and New York Times front-page article - the pioneers were recognized as heroes!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.
When the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ in 2012, the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) emerged as Ei's central Recycling Refinement focus through 2016.
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.
In 2014, Ei announced post-consumer food waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill was the prime SFCI focus. The Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) formed to support post-consumer food waste projects, ranging from compostable packaging education, post-game food waste collection, and 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.
SMAT members at a pre-season
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 complete.
In addition to post-consumer food waste, the SFCI Pilots were active in the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template, plastic film recycling pilots. and milk jug recycling programs.
Ei Soil Health Platform
With the July 2017 Soil Health platform announcement, Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and food waste collection for compost to Soil Health, with the Water Use | Toxicity and Product Stewardship platforms remaining in strong supporting roles. The ZWA Blog article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announced the Ei Soil Health platform.
In alignment with the new Ei focus, Georgia World Congress Center Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joined the Ei Leadership Team as the new SFCI Chair.
Instrumental in the Soil Health platform development, Tim participated in the 2017 Ei Farm Tours documented in the ZWA Blog article, The Power of Tours. Inspired by the tours, Tim teamed with Levy Restaurants GWCC Executive Chef Matt Roach and GWCC Grounds Operation Manager Steve Ware to identify an on-campus mini-farm area. The intent is to use regenerative agriculture practices at the on-campus mini-farm to produce food for the employee dining facility.
Tim on a farm tour
SFCI - GWCCAWith the November 2017 decommissioning of the Georgia Dome, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) stepped forward as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot. Within the state-owned GWCCA umbrella is the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), the fourth-largest convention center in the nation and the world's largest LEED Certified convention center. In addition to the GWCC, the GWCCA manages Olympic Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta and the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.
The SFCI - Georgia Dome page showcases the accomplishments during its 2012 - 2016 tenure as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot.
As host for the 2009 acclaimed ZWZ launch press conference, the GWCCA is a committed sustainability leader with an impressive list of accomplishments:
- GWCC earned LEED Silver in 2014 making it the world's largest LEED certified convention center and is actively working towards LEED Gold (anticipated Fall 2017).
- GWCCA-managed Savannah International Trade and Convention Center earned LEED Gold in July 2017, making it the first convention center in the State of Georgia to achieve Gold LEED status.
- GWCCA diverted more than 14 million pounds of material from landfills since 2008; the GWCC received the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge 2016 Waste Diversion Award.
Atlanta Better Building Challenge
2016 Waste Diversion Award
photo courtesy of the GWCCA
- GWCC reduced water consumption by 41% since 2008 through the installation of new irrigation, restroom fixtures, and chillers.
- GWCC is approximately 28% more energy efficient than similar buildings.
- GWCCA uses janitorial paper and cleaning products that meet sustainability criteria, including recycled content materials and|or reduced harmful chemicals. (86% of the products meet the criteria)
- GWCC’s 1,900-solar panel canopy located in the marshaling yard produces enough energy to power 89 Georgia homes annually.
- GWCCA employees donated 1730 lbs. of clothing, recycled 152 lbs. of batteries and electronics, and donated nearly 500 meals worth of food to the Atlanta Community Food Bank during the 2016 holiday season.
Customized lighting installed
via the performance contract
photo courtesy of the GWCCAIn 2015 the GWCC entered into a $28 million energy-savings performance contract to upgrade old, outdated equipment with a collaborative financing plan. The GWCC performance contract is the largest stand-alone project in Georgia and the largest in the country for public assembly venues.GWCC equipment upgrades cut energy consumption by at least 39%, saving in excess of $2.5 million in the first year alone. During the October 2015 through April 2017 construction period, GWCC achieved the following impressive stats:Event Venue Challenges
Event venues face unique challenges when embarking on energy-savings, zero waste, and other sustainability programs. The following details several of the challenges:
- $1,827,241 of energy costs saved.
- 17,810,772 kWh of electricity saved (enough to power 1,781 homes in Georgia).
- 13,704,856 gallons of water saved (the amount of water in more than 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools).
- 18,481 therms of natural gas saved (average annual usage of 26 Georgia homes).
- 578,277 pounds of construction waste recycled (the equivalent weight of 18,504,864 empty soda cans).
Typical booth at a trade show
With the plethora of event venue challenges, the GWCC successes to date are impressive.What Can Be DoneYears ago, the GWCC stepped forward as an industry pioneer with a commitment to bring the possible out of impossible. As the SFCI Event Venue Pilot, the GWCC continues to showcase the power of What Can Be Done!
- Event contracts – Facility sales departments often book events years in advance; by event time, contract provisions may not complement facility sustainability practices. Common practice includes one waste haul per exhibit hall within the contract price; thus, there is no financial incentive to reduce event waste.
- Third party contractors - Most conferences contract with a local event management company for equipment rental along with delivery, set-up, and tear-down. Event team communication of sustainability practices often does not reach the subcontractors; thus, specified tasks do not happen.
- Move-out timing - Contracts include a tight post-event timeline for the staff to clear out the exhibit hall. Due to the time-sensitive urgency, the staff focuses on "clearing out" in the fastest manner possible; often recyclable material ends up in the waste container, versus separated for recycling.
- Government-owned facilities – Many conference centers are owned by local and state governments with bidding processes required for service and equipment contracts.
- Event day driven – By their nature conference centers experience high-level activity followed by slow or dormant time.
The Power of Tours
Throughout Elemental Impact's (Ei) eight-year history, tours played an integral role in educating the Ei Team on current scenarios and creative solutions to challenging situations.
Tour group shot @ a
In the early Zero Waste Zones days, tours centered around MRFs (material recovery facilities), recycling centers, manufacturers where recyclable items are raw materials, and generators with successful source-separated material systems in place. As Ei work segued to Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Pilots, tours focused on large generators where the consumer is responsible for material disposal.
As the SFCI-Airport Pilot, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, hosted the SFCI Team on International Terminal tours during construction and post-opening. The ZWA Blog article, SFCI Team Tours New ATL Airport Int'l Concourse, chronicles the during construction tour; the SFCI Atlanta Airport Pilot: ACTION Resumes article showcases the post-opening tour.
At the SFCI-Event Venue Pilot, the Georgia Dome hosted several Falcons games tours to understand post-consumer food waste and packaging generated by the concessionaire and disposed of by the fans. The ZWA Blog article, Winning Recycling Seasons: Team Work Required!, provides a recap of the 2013 game day recycling tour with the Mercedes Benz Stadium architects.
Tim with post-game collected
food waste & packaging
The Ei Tours website page details the many Ei-hosted tours, segregated by Farm, Industry, Partner, and SFCI Tours. Each tour is supported by a blog article and Ei FB album.
In July 2017, Ei shifted gears within the spiral of humanity's environmental impact. Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and Post-Consumer Food Waste to Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life. The ZWA Blog article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announces the new platform and showcases the powerful foundation built within the Recycling Refinement platform and Post-Consumer Food waste focus area.
In preparation for the official Soil Health platform announcement, Ei embarked on a Farm Tour series in early 2017 with Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer. Ei Farm Tours are focused on farms following regenerative agricultural practices, with a strong emphasis on rebuilding healthy soils. In addition, Tim stepped into his new Ei Leadership role as the SFCI Chair.
First on the tour agenda was the February tour of the King of Crops Farm, located 25 minutes from downtown Atlanta. King of Pops, a popular hand-crafted popsicle company, purchased the farm to source locally grown organic ingredients nurtured within regenerative agriculture practices. Farm Manager Russell Hondered treated the group to a thorough farm tour including a narrative on its history as a well-established nursery. Remnants from the past are evident throughout the land adding character to the farm.
David educates Tim on the food
waste composting windrows
In addition to farming, King of Crops is a state-permitted food waste compost site. Commercial and residential food waste hauler Compost Wheels delivers their material to the farm. Compost Wheels CEO David Paull joined the tour and educated on the farm food waste composting practices.
Next on the agenda was a Kennesaw State University (KSU) Hickory Grove Farm tour. Kim Charick with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 (Southeast Region) joined Tim and Ei Founder Holly Elmore. Farm Operations Manager Michael Blackwell and KSU Professor Jorge Perez gave a thorough farm tour, along with details on the land history.
Hickory Grove Farm entrance
In 2013 the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) leased the 26-acre tract of land to KSU for farm use. Formally, the site was the GDOT cement mixing site for nearby I-75 construction. Though not toxic, the soil was severely compacted and devoid of necessary minerals to sustain a healthy soil ecosystem. In addition, storm water flowed off the property, rather than hydrate the "dead soil."
With patience, tenacity and a strategic plan, the KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality restored the land through regenerative agriculture practices. Simple, effective storm water management techniques retain water on the property, including a vibrant natural retention pond. Soil restoration is a partnership with the land; continued nurturing through compost use, crop rotation and other regenerative applications are necessary to maintain and improve soil health.
Natural farm retention pond
In addition to serving as a laboratory for the Leven School and other departments, the farm supplies produce for The Commons, KSU's Gold LEED Certified dining hall. The farm's happy hens often supply 100% of the dining service's egg demand!
Within the farm operations is the state-of-the-art Hydroponic Lab where tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are grown year round. Student volunteers stamp out soil blocks for seed planting in the Propagation Lab. Once germinated, the seedling soil blocks are planted in the High Tunnel and tended through harvest. By using soil blocks, the use of small plastic containers to grow saplings is eliminated.
Student farm worker with
the happy hens
Inspired by the farm tours, Tim teamed with Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Matt Roach and GWCC Grounds Operation Manager Steve Ware to identify an on-campus mini-farm area. The intent is to use regenerative agriculture practices at the on-campus mini-farm to produce food for the employee dining facility.
In late July, Ei hosted the GWCC Team at Hickory Grove Farm where Michael & Jorge educated on regenerative agriculture practices along with crop choice advice; Steve shared his extensive horticulture expertise, especially pertaining to plant | tree identification in the farm's old growth forest areas.
In the farm's old growth forest, there are two healthy shoots from former magnificent American Chestnuts killed by the chestnut blight. It is estimated 3 - 4 billion American Chestnuts were killed by the blight in the first half of the 20th century. Though healthy in appearance, the shoots remain vulnerable to the blight.
Tour group shot within one of
the American Chesnut sprouts.
The GWCC team departed in high spirits, thrilled with on-campus farming opportunities and new friends at a fellow state-owned Institute.
For a pictorial recount of the Hickory Grove Farm tours, visit the Holly Elmore Images FB album, KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality. The Ei FB album, Ei Connects, includes a section on the King of Crops Farm Tour.
Beyond their educational value, tours build strong bonds among industry colleagues and inspire new, innovative projects. Ei is excited to embark on a Farm Tour series filled with new discoveries, inspiration, and empowerment within the Soil Health platform.
The potential GWCC on-campus mini-farm is a prime example of The Power of Tours!
Building a Zero Waste Economy, one step, one city at a time
In late July, Elemental Impact (Ei) hosted U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger on a whirlwind Atlanta zero waste-focused visit. For three days, Stephanie met with Atlanta's sustainability leadership to educate on the USGBC Zero Waste Certification (ZWC) and their commitment to building a Zero Waste Economy.
As the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) Founder & Executive Director, Stephanie and Ei Founder Holly Elmore forged a strong, long-term partnership, with Ei serving as the USZWBC and National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) media partner. The partnership expanded beyond media relations via Ei-hosted NZWBC industry panels, Stephanie presenting at Annual Ei Partner Meetings, and much more.
Stephane presenting at the 2016
Annual Ei Partner Meeting
On October 5, 2016, the USZWBC joined forces with the USGBC. The prominent USZWBC Zero Waste Facility Certification was integrated into the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), a USGBC organization that drives sustainability across all sectors. The ZWA Blog article, USGBC Empowers Zero Waste Industry: USGBC & USZWBC join forces, announces the powerful union.
With USZWBC | USGBC | GBCI integration nearing completion, Stephanie steps into her new role transforming markets to embrace zero waste practices and building a Zero Waste Economy. The whirlwind Atlanta visit was designed to reconnect with Atlanta sustainability leadership and educate the Georgia USGBC community on the ZWC.
Stephanie with keynote presenter
Laura Turner Seydel @ 2014 NZWBC
Atlanta hosted the stellar 2014 NZWBC. Thus, Stephanie is well acquainted with Atlanta's zero waste leaders in the private sector, non-profit realm, and local, state and federal government. It makes good sense to build off the powerful foundation and establish Atlanta as a USGBC zero waste community pillar city.
The meeting marathon began with a multi-billion dollar manufacturing company enthusiastic to understand zero waste in concept and practice. Customer demand for manufacturing sustainability, including zero waste, was the impetus for taking first steps. One of the parting comments was a common Ei zero waste phrase,
Take Baby Steps, lots & lots of baby steps!
In the afternoon, The Epsten Group hosted Stephanie for a two-hour education session beginning with general zero waste information and finishing with a ZWC overview. Intertwined within Stephanie's presentation, Holly educated on Recycling Refinement, moving beyond landfill diversion, using the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Pilots as prominent examples. It was empowering to showcase Atlanta's pioneers and leadership status. Holly's PPT presentation is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.
The Epsten Group
The day finished with a light dinner at an eclectic restaurant nestled in Cabbagetown, a neighborhood originally built for the nearby cotton mill workers. Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joined Stephanie and Holly for a fun, relaxed catch-up.
Under Tim's leadership, the GWCC achieved LEED Silver Certification and is the world's largest LEED Certified conference center. In 2009, the GWCC hosted the prominent Zero Waste Zones' launch press conference, culminating in a CNN Story and a front-page New York Times article. The GWCC is an early zero waste pioneer and hero!
On the second day, Rubicon hosted Stephanie and Holly for a breakfast meeting in their amazing new offices. As a founding USZWBC member, Rubicon was interested in a leadership role within the USGBC zero waste community. In addition, Rubicon VP Investor Relations Elizabeth Montoya shared the impressive new high tech, app-oriented Rubicon service designed to maximize material collections, enhance route efficiency, and report community observations, such as pot holes in roadways.
Rubicon condiment station in
employee break area
It was a pleasure to witness zero waste practices in action within Rubicon's offices. In the employee break area, beverage condiments are dispersed in individual servings, creating no packaging waste. Honey & blue agave are available in bulk, recyclable packaging. Landfill and recycling bins use Ei Strategic Ally Recycle Across America's standard labeling. ... and Rubicon contracts with close Ei pal Compost Wheels for commercial food waste collection!
Next on the meeting agenda was a visit to Cox Enterprises (Cox), a long-time Rubicon client. Cox Recycling & Waste Diversion Manager Meredith Brown gave an overview of zero waste initiatives in-place and planned. In addition, Meredith inquired on the leadership opportunities within the USGBC zero waste community. Owned by Cox, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution is the nation's first zero waste-certified newspaper.
Meredith. Laurene & Stephanie
with AJC ZW sign in Cox lobby.
Afternoon meetings included visits at Ernst & Young and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Airport), the busiest airport in the world. Airport Senior Sustainability Leader Liza Milagro updated on the concessionaire contract compostable packaging provision implementation. In 2011, Ei worked closely with the Airport on the contract provision and issued the Compostable Packaging Info Packet on behalf of the Airport. The Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet page details the ground-breaking contract provision.
The day ended with a casual, yet powerful, meeting with Mercedes Benz Stadium (MBS) General Manager Scott Jenkins. Only weeks into his new position, Scott delivered his first presentation as MBS General Manager at the 2014 NZWBC. During the design and construction phase, Scott ensured the stadium was built for zero waste success. In a few short weeks, the stadium is slated to host its first game! In his role as the Green Sports Council Chair, Scott and Stephanie strategized on complementary programs in place and how the two organizations may work together.
On the final day, USGBC-GA Director Shelby Buso hosted a meeting to educate the Georgia community on the ZWC. Meeting participants were eager to learn about the USGBC zero waste commitment and share their zero waste challenges, lessons learned, and successes. The City of Atlanta, Office of Resilience Senior Policy Advisor Boyd Leake stayed after the morning meeting to meet privately with Stephanie and Holly. The conversation topic centered on Atlanta serving as a USGBC zero waste pillar city.
Shelby joined Stephanie and Holly for a mid-morning meeting with Tim at his GWCC offices. Tim gave an awesome update on the Georgia Dome decommissioning, GWCC remodeling, and Olympic Centennial Park redesign. Under the GWCC umbrella, the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center is in the LEED Certification application process.
A fun, productive lunch with Ted's Montana Grill Purchasing & Sustainability Manager Paula Owens was the perfect final meeting on Stephanie's whirlwind Atlanta visit. After meeting Paula at an Annual Ei Partner Meeting, Stephanie invited Paula to present on a food waste-focused plenary panel at the 2016 NZWBC in Austin.
Shelby, Paula & Stephanie
after a fun, inspiring lunch
The Ei FB Album, USGBC Zero Waste Certification and Education, includes a pictorial recap of Stephanie's Atlanta visit.
Similar to creating a successful facility zero waste program, a Zero Waste Economy requires a methodical process filled with a multitude of consecutive, small steps. Essential to success is a template where businesses, the local community, and the environment benefit.
USGBC Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger's July Atlanta visit was a strong step in building a Zero Waste Economy, one step, one city at a time!
Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life!
In 2017 Elemental Impact (Ei) shifted gears within the spiral of humanity's environmental impact. Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and food waste collection for compost to Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life.
Early steps within the Soil Health journey began with the 2009 Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launch; the ZWZ were the nation's forerunner in the collection of commercial food waste for compost. Inaugural ZWZ years were dedicated to raising awareness of food waste compost within the foodservice industry and establishing new sustainable standard operating practices. Founding ZWZ Participants perfected back-of-the-house food waste collection practices and shared their successes with industry colleagues.
Founding ZWZ Participant
Chef Ahmad Nourzad
of Affairs to Remember
The National Resources Defense Council's 2012 Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill issue paper publication alerted mainstream media to the food waste crisis. Numerous powerful organizations formed within the foodservice and retail industries to directly address the crisis and affect change.
Thus, the established operating practices combined with national food waste awareness earmarked successful completion of Ei's role. In late 2012 the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ; the ZWA Blog article, National Restaurant Association Acquires Zero Waste Zones, announces the monumental milestone in Ei history.
In 2014 the Sustainable Food Court Initiative announced its stated prime focus was post-consumer food waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill. The Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) supported the SFCI - Georgia Dome Pilot post-consumer food waste projects, ranging from compostable packaging education, post-game food waste collection, and a post-consumer food waste compost pilot at a state-permitted composting facility.
SMAT members collecting food
waste after a Falcon's game.
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 complete.
Limited state-permitted food waste composting facilities (or other technologies) are a significant obstacle to mainstream source-separated food waste collection, at the consumer and commercial levels. Using simple economic principles, a stronger demand for food waste compost will drive an increase in capacity, from the opening of new sites to an expansion of existing facilities. By shifting focus to increasing compost demand, Ei embarks on new industry frontiers within the Soil Health platform.
Steam rising from windrows at a
permitted food waste composting site.
Initial work relates to the education of depleted soils' direct relationship with the carbon crisis, out-of-balance carbon cycles, contaminated waterways, excessive water usage, erosion control, storm water management, and production of nutritious food. In addition, Ei addresses the micro plastic pollution within the soils, similar to the plastic smog prolific in the oceans. The inaugural Soil Health focus areas are:
As validated in Kiss the Ground's empowering four-minute video, The Soil Story, the carbon problem and the solution are a matter of balance.
- Carbon Sequestration - the ZWA Blog article, Carbon Crisis: simply a matter of balance, introduces the Urban Carbon Sink concept.
- Macro Cost of Micro Contamination - the ZWA Blog article, Macro Cost of Micro Contamination, introduces the focus area via a National Zero Waste Business Conference Ei-hosted panel of the same name.
- Farm Tours - Ei focuses on success stories where farms restore broken soil systems through regenerative agriculture.
Simply: there is too much carbon in the atmosphere and ocean pools. To restore balance, excess carbon must transfer to the fossil, biosphere, and/or soil pools. The Carbon Crisis article referenced above features The Soil Story along with an explanation of the carbon pools and the out-of-balance scenario.
Earth Carbon Pools
image courtesy of The Soil StoryIn May 2017 Kiss the Ground released The Compost Story, a sequel to The Soil Story, to an enthusiastic national audience. Ei joined the prominent video launch team and participates in an executive committee focused on developing educational tools. Kiss the Ground intends to develop soil | compost educational materials targeted at three prime sectors: 1> municipalities, 2> schools and 3> businesses.U.S. Green Building Council Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger and Ei Founder Holly Elmore took leadership roles in the business sector.
Integral to Kiss the Ground's mission is how regenerative agriculture rebuilds our soils and sequesters atmospheric carbon into the soils. Compost use is integral to regenerative agriculture. Within the Macro Cost of Micro Contamination platform, the Ei Team will initially focus on two main areas:
Plastic mulch used on a small
farm's blackberry field
- Contaminant-free food waste stream delivered to commercial, farm and community garden compost operations. BPI Certified Compostable food and beverage serviceware is a must for single-use packaging to prevent fragmented plastic contamination within the finished compost.
- Widespread use of plastic mulch and other plastics in conventional farming and agriculture. Plastics fragment into tiny pieces yet does not decompose, causing micro plastic contamination in the soils used to grow food.
By employing simple storm water management practices, a farm pond naturally formed complete with a pair of mallard ducks, ample frogs, and abundant foliage and insects. Pond water is used in the Hydroponic Lab to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers for The Commons, the KSU Gold LEED Certified dining hall.
Hickory Grove Farm pond formed
naturally via simple a simple
storm water management system
The Holly Elmore Images FB album, KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality, is a pictorial recap of a recent Hickory Grove Farm tour.Soil Health brings Ei back to core roots on many levels, including alignment with the Ei 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.
In her years as the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) Founder & Executive Director, Holly was a leader in the local, sustainable | farm to table movement. Holly worked closely with the Georgia Department of Agriculture team on launching the first Georgia Grown food show in 2008. Introductions to Atlanta's culinary community were integral to the Georgia Grown food show success. The GFA Advisory Council consisted of prominent Atlanta leadership, including Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black in his prior Georgia Agribusiness Council President role.
American Culinary Federation - ATL
President Michael Diehl with then
GA Dept of AG Commissioner Tommy
Irvin at a 2008 GFA event.Ei was formed in 2010 as the new home for the ZWZ, which was launched as a GFA program. Within the Soil Health platform, Holly may build off her strong sustainable agriculture foundation cultivated within the powerful GFA Producers Task Force.
Soil Health brings a vibrancy to Ei's important work along with renewed and new industry relationships. The spiral of humanity's environmental impact is perpetual; Ei is honored to bring past expertise to new light within Soil Health programs under development.
Green Streets: grass roots social enterprise
Repost of a January 2015 article due to blog technical challenges.
Green Streets - a Citizen Film documentary by Sophie Constantinou - follows 29 year old entrepreneur Tyrone Mullins and his friends as they turn trash into cash in the distressed San Francisco housing projects where they live. Through trial and error, they learn to haul 150,000 gallons of waste per month, creating desperately needed jobs, and establishing recycling where all previous efforts had failed.
Green Streets film cover
With five years of success and a solid business in-place, Green Streets serves as a catalyst for similar programs in urban landscapes. Citizen Film holds work-in-progress Green Streets screenings in the Bay Area on a near-weekly basis, at events ranging from closed-door strategy meetings to public screenings | discussions attended by hundreds.
The frequent screenings to influential public housing, conservation and workforce development stakeholders broadens awareness of Green Streets' powerful impact within under served neighborhoods and the city as a whole.
Green Streets employees
sorting @ an apt. complex.
Post-screening discussions often result in improved waste management operations. Green Streets is a work-in-progress where setbacks become opportunities to aspire to greater achievements.
More than a business, more than a documentary, Green Streets is a social enterprise with a mission to provide a business service, a social service and an environmental service: a triple bottom line. Within the social service mission, Green Streets is an example of how grass roots enterprises are the catalyst for urban revitalization; under-served populations evolve into well-served, thriving communities.
Beyond the screening recognition, Tyrone received the following awards and recognition for Green Streets: an Ashoka Emerging Innovator Award, a fellowship from Stanford University's Project Remade, and a "Champions of Change" Award from the White House.These mainstream high honors validate Green Streets as a prominent leader and recognize the societal implications.
Green Streets on
What is social enterprise? According to the Green Streets FAQ page: A social enterprise operates like a business, but manages its operations in pursuit of human and / or environmental wellbeing. Per Wikipedia:
A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders.
Green Streets presents social enterprise as the connecting path between the Vicious Cycle - Trauma, Unemployment & Waste - and the Virtuous Cycle - Ownership, Community Restoration & Recycling. The path is two-way or holographic, depending upon perspective.
AMBFF President Penny McPhee
w/ Sophie @ screeningThanks to the generosity and vision of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation (AMBFF) Green Streets came to Atlanta for a series of screenings, organized discussions, tours and meetings.The Wednesday January 14, 2015 Green Streets Atlanta screening was presented by the AMBFF Film Series and set the stage for a powerful week in Atlanta. The ZWA Blog article, Green Streets Comes to Atlanta!, announces the Atlanta screening and visit.According to their site, the AMBFF Film Series uses the power of documentary film to address a wide range of societal issues. The Foundation recognizes the documentary medium can concurrently spark imagination, illuminate a subject, challenge conventional thinking, entertain and engage audiences, create awareness and inspire action.SUCCESS: The Wednesday Green Streets screening was a complete sell-out with standing room only for late arrivals. After introductions by John Bare, AMBFF vice-president for programs, the audience was enthralled with the 45-minute screening on Green Streets' history, creation, challenges and successes.Following the screening, Sophie moderated a panel of urban innovators and entrepreneurs from Green Streets and Atlanta consisting of the following individuals:
Panel after screening
- David Mauroff - director of social enterprise at Urban Strategies where he supports the growth and development of Green Streets. In addition, David provides public safety and resident support services assistance to the McCormack Baron portfolio (owner of housing project apartments.)
- Rohit Malhotra - founder & executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta; Rohit's background includes social entrepreneurship, digital communications and community organizing.
- Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic - vice-president & market leader for Enterprise Community Partner's Sourtheast. Meaghan's responsibilities include strategic planning and capacity building assistance for preservation, new production and transit-oriented development opportunities to affordable housing and community development.
- Tyrone Mullins - co-founder of Green Streets.
Randolph sharing his
experiences on the panel.Midway through the discussion, Tyrone called Randolph Lee, fellow Green Streets team member, from the audience to join the panel and provide his perspective and experience.Elemental Impact (Ei) was honored to co-present the Atlanta January 14 screening along with Green Streets, Urban Strategies, Citizen Film and the Fledgling Fund.The following day the Center for Civic Innovation hosted the Sustainable Thinking: How Green Leads to Good Jobs & Revitalized Neighborhoods roundtable discussion. Ei Founder Holly Elmore was among the community leaders from the various Atlanta sectors to participate in the roundtable. Participants represented global corporations, local | national non-profits, local government, private enterprise, schools and clergy.After an eight-minute Green Streets film and participant introductions, David moderated and Sophie filmed the vibrant discussions.
Tyrone on the screen; Sophie
standing in reverence.The conversation centered on unique challenges facing urban entrepreneurs; innovative partnerships and business practices are key to creating healthy, prosperous working environments. For instance, Tyrone mentioned the importance of mental health services to Green Streets success. Through therapy employees understand trigger points, heal wounds from emotional | physical trauma and grow as workers and individuals.Two staffing agencies who employ ex-convicts, veterans and severely under-employed individuals shared valuable insights on how to segue challenges into successful long-term employment opportunities. In addition, Re-Entry Coalition executive director Bob Jackson was active in roundtable discussions and lunch afterwards.Ei Partner Novelis, the world's largest aluminum recycler and manufacturer of rolled aluminum, was a strong roundtable participant. Parting conversation included a potential Green Streets screening at Novelis' Atlanta global headquarters. Synergies abound:
Thursday evening the Atlanta University Center Consortium - the largest contiguous consortium of African American private institutions of higher education in the nation - hosted a Green Streets screening at Clark Atlanta University. The enthusiastic crowd was eager to present questions to David, Tyrone and Randolph in the post-screening panel discussion.Friday morning began with the final Atlanta screening at the Fulton Leadership Academy (FLA) - where young men soar to greater heights. It was an inspirational visit for Tyrone, Randolph and the students; lifelong education was a key message in the post-screening discussions.
- Novelis is the Atlanta Falcons Recycling Partner.
- Arthur Blank owns the Atlanta Falcons.
Green Streets team with
- The Georgia Dome, home of the Falcons, is the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Event Venue Pilot.
- Ei works closely with Scott Jenkins, New Falcons Stadium general manager and Green Sports Alliance Chair.
- AMBFF recently committed $15 million to the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund to assist the neighborhoods near the New Falcons Stadium become safer, healthier and more prosperous.
- Ei's Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template Pilot is anchored at the Georgia Dome with tremendous common ground to partner with an Atlanta Green Streets.
- Many new connections were made among the local roundtable participants with commitments to meet in the next weeks to continue the conversation.
Green Streets team with
Scott Jenkins @ GA DomeWith fortitude, leadership and achievement as core values, the FLA is committed to a rigorous academic environment that empowers young men in grades 6-12 to become productive civic leaders. Within the offered curriculum, there is a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and a thematic approach that integrates experiences with aviation and aeronautics.After "soaring" with the young men, the Green Streets team met with Scott Jenkins for an overview of the New Falcons Stadium construction and operations.WOW: the Georgia Dome marquees were lit up with the following two messages:
Thank you to Scott and the Georgia Dome staff for going the extra yards with the marquee messages. The marquees expressed appreciation at a level not possible with words.
- Welcome Green Streets!
- Happy Birthday Tyrone!
Tyrone with his Happy Birthday signWhat an honor for Tyrone to spend his 30th birthday in Atlanta sharing Green Streets with our grand city. The odds were against Tyrone making it to this life milestone; not only did he survive, Tyrone is THRIVING as a prominent contributor to necessary social consciousness shifts.The inaugural Atlanta Green Streets visit planted fertile seeds for future visits to build empowering social enterprise grass roots programs. Discussions segued into food waste composting at created community gardens in distressed neighborhoods.The Ei FB album, Green Streets Comes to Atlanta, gives a pictorial recap of the empowering visit.Atlanta is ripe for social enterprise to build a stable path from a Vicious Cycle to a Virtuous Cycle in our diverse communities... and remember prosperous social sectors have their own Vicious Cycles to transform.Thank you Green Streets for your vision, fortitude, leadership and commitment to sharing. Thank you to The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation for bringing Green Streets to Atlanta!
A Circular Economy Approach for Urban Nutrient Cycles
On March 28, 2017 the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) issued the groundbreaking Urban Biocycles scoping paper as an introduction to a Circular Economy approach for urban nutrient cycles. The well-researched paper addresses the valuable nutrients within current organic waste streams and how urban environments disrupt nature's perfected nutrient cycles.
In August 2012 the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published the Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food form Farm to Fork to Landfill issue paper, researched and written by Senior Scientist & Author Dana Gunders. The NRDC paper opened America's eyes and hearts to the global food crisis. Ignited by the paper, pursuing awareness and action produced a multitude of food waste reduction initiatives, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Food Recovery Challenge.
While the NRDC paper brought the food waste crisis to center stage, the EMF Urban Biocycles paper expands the scope to all organic streams with a focus on economic-driven solutions. A consciousness shift from disposition | treatment to capturing valuable nutrients within productive cycles is at the paper's foundation.
Similar to the NRDC paper's impact, the EMF Urban Biocycles scoping paper is staged to propel global action with a shifted perspective on organic waste solutions. A basic premise is natural cycles produce no waste; nutrients are continuously recycled within the perfected cycles. Elemental Impact (Ei) wrote on this topic in the 2012 ZWA Blog article Perpetual Life Cycle Systems - simplicity is key. The article opens with the following paragraph:
In nature "waste" does not exist, rather a perpetual life cycle rearranges molecular structures so the finished product for one use is the basis for its next life. Using modern technology, on-farm anaerobic digestion systems seem to emulate nature's integrated approach to resource management.
The key to success in the featured on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) system was the entire nutrient cycle remained on the farm. Livestock manure fueled the on-farm AD system; the AD digestate by-product was used for livestock bedding, which returned to the AD system once soiled with manure; the nutrient-rich AD water by-product irrigated the fields used to grow livestock feed; the AD plant supplied the farm with ample electricity. Thus, the complete on-farm nutrient cycle flowed with perpetuity.
Ei Team during on-farm AD tour
Urban development breaks natural cycles by transporting nutrients outside of their respective cyclic boundaries. Agricultural products are often not consumed within the farm vicinity. Thus, plant | animal remains no longer decompose back into the farm grounds as nutrients for the soil's microbial community. Two challenges ensue: 1> soils are deprived of nutrients within the cycle and 2> nutrients are deposited outside of the cycle system in the form of food waste and human | animal excrement.
Modern farming relies heavily on synthetic fertilizers to replace the lost nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Yet these same nutrients cause havoc, including "dead zones," as they flow through sewer systems and water treatment facilities into waterways and oceans. According to the EMF paper:
Urban waste streams represent a significant opportunity to recover nutrients and return them to the soil. In theory, the recovery of 100% of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in global food, animal and human waste streams could contribute nearly 2.7 times the nutrients contained in volume of chemical fertiliser currently used.
By crafting regenerative nutrient cycles within urban environments, organic streams shift from "expensive waste" to valuable raw materials. In addition to soil enhancements, bioenergy generation is integral to the Circular Economy model, including AD and biorefineries. From the EMF paper: The World Economic Forum estimates that potential global revenues from the biomass value chain – comprising the production of agricultural inputs, biomass trading and biorefinery outputs – could be as high as USD 295 billion by 2020.
Small-scale biofuel production
Throughout the paper, well-documented research is used to substantiate the two main sections: The Biocycle Economy and The Circular Economy Vision – how to close the nutrient loops. In addition the paper is filled with case studies from around the globe and call-out boxes for barriers to potential solutions.
The Urban Biocycles paper was issued under the Project Mainstream (PM) umbrella. Launched in 2014 by EMF and the World Economics Forum, PM is a multi-industry, global initiative.
PM aims to accelerate business-driven innovations and help scale the Circular Economy (building awareness of it, and increasing impact and implementation). It focuses on systemic stalemates in global material flows that are too big or too complex for an individual business, city or government to overcome alone, as well as on enablers of the Circular Economy, such as digital technologies.
In January 2016 PM issued the monumental The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics. The January 2017 report The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action provides a global action plan to move towards 70% reuse and recycling of plastic packaging, endorsed by over 40 industry leaders, while highlighting the need for fundamental redesign and innovation of the remaining 30%.
Intention is to follow a similar path with the Urban Biocycles paper. The inaugural paper delineates the current scenario, complete with documented research, case studies, potential solutions and barriers to implementation. In 2017, PM intends to develop an action plan to present at the January 2018 World Economics Forum at Davos.
Congratulations to EMF Project Manager & Lead Author Dale Walker on an excellent job researching, organizing the multitude of information, and writing the superb Urban Biocycles scoping paper.
Using a Circular Economy approach, the EMF takes a high level global perspective for resolving challenges to sustain civilization | humanity. Inherent within the Circular Economy approach is recognizing the myriad of intertwining cycles at play within the global economy.
The ZWA article, Carbon Crisis: merely a matter of balance, explains the Earth's carbon cycles are out-of-balance and offers the soil as the hero for a simple balance restoration solution. Kiss the Ground's The Soil Story video is featured in the article as a creative, effective carbon cycle explanation along with a grass roots action plan. The Soil Story's sequel The Compost Story is slated for a May 2017 release to correspond with International Compost Awareness Week.
A combination of global, long-term, research-oriented planning coupled with immediate, action-oriented, grass roots efforts is a recipe for a Circular Economy to emerge. Ei is honored to support the global planning and grass roots efforts.
Ei Chair Scott Seydel serves on the EMF USA Board and Ei Founder Holly Elmore is listed in the Urban Biocycles paper credits as an Expert Input and Case Study Contributor. In addition, Ei is a launch partner for The Compost Story.
When humanity aligns with natural cycles a magical balance comes forth where businesses, communities and the environment thrive in harmony. Organizations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation are conduits for balance restoration within the Earth's cycles.
About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was established in 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to the circular economy. Since its creation the charity has emerged as a global thought leader, establishing the circular economy on the agenda of decision makers across business, government and academia. With the support of its Core Philanthropic Funder, SUN, and Knowledge Partners (Arup, IDEO, McKinsey & Company, and SYSTEMIQ), the Foundation’s work focuses on five interlinking areas: Education, Business & Government, Communications, Insight & Analysis, and Systemic Initiatives.
The Power of Connection
One of Elemental Impact (Ei)'s valuable industry roles is connecting colleagues | organizations together who share synergistic missions and programs. Often introductions evolve into important Ei initiatives. Other times introductions result in powerful alliances yet do not directly involve Ei in subsequent programs.
A prime example is Ei's 2011 introduction of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to the U.S. Composting Council (USCC). As home to the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) - the nation's forerunner for the commercial collection of food waste for compost, Ei worked closely with the foodservice industry on collection of food waste for composting. In addition, Ei developed a strong relationship with the USCC and food waste compost manufacturers.
NRA & USCC associates post-meeting
It was natural to introduce the respective national trade associations for food waste generators to food waste destinations. SUCCESS: the ZWA Blog article, Collaboration is Key to Success, announces the formal Memorandum of Understanding executed between the NRA and the USCC.
The Ei Team - Industry Pioneers, Industry Experts, Strategic Allies and Advisory Council - is a powerful entourage of industry leadership eager to share their expertise, experience and wisdom. Ei introductions are central to a multitude of successful pilots, programs, grants and relationships.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
The EPA Region 4 was instrumental in the ZWZ launch and worked closely with Ei Founder Holly Elmore, then Green Foodservice Alliance Founder & Executive Director, on developing the program. With a solid relationship, Ei and the EPA continue to work together on industry initiatives.
EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC:
In 2011, Charlotte-based Concord Mills accepted the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Shopping Mall Pilot role with an emphasis on food waste collection for composting, excess food donation and plastic film recycling. A strong relationship developed with Mecklenburg County Government along with a powerful network of Charlotte businesses and organizations.
When Ei Strategic Ally Green Blue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) submitted the EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC grant proposal, Ei was included as a lead sub-grantee. Ei’s role centered on powerful Charlotte government and private enterprise connections, commercial food waste program experience, grant work documentation via blog articles & FB albums, and coordination of grant team visits.
EPA Grant Team
photo courtesy of Steve Davies
The ZWA Blog article, Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC, gives an overview of grant objectives, tasks and goal.
During the two-year grant period - October 2013 to September 2015 - Ei orchestrated five Charlotte visits filled with powerful meetings, site visits | tours along with productive dinners where the magic flowed into action plans. The Ei Charlotte Visits page documents the important visits.
Food Recovery Challenge:
In 2011 the EPA introduced the Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) as a response to the incredible volume of food waste and wasted food destined for landfills. EPA Region 4 focused their 2014 FRC launch on the hospitality sector. The ZWA Blog article, EPA Food Recovery Challenge: Region IV launches FRC in hospitality sector, gives program details and an introduction to the food waste dilemma.
With strong connections to foodservice industry leaders, Ei joined the FRC as an Endorser, committing to recruit Program Participants as well as additional Endorsers.
In February 2014 Holly and EPA Environmental Scientist Kim Charick embarked on a meeting | call marathon recruiting FRC Program Participants and Endorsers. It was empowering to reconnect with the early zero waste pioneers, most Founding ZWZ Participants.
The GWCC EPA FRC meeting
Eager to join, the pioneers receive recognition for their impressive food waste practices and serve as role models for those new to donation and food waste collection programs. The ZWA Blog article, Ei Joins EPA Food Recovery Challenge, recaps the recruiting process while the Ei FB album, EPA Food Recovery Challenge, is a pictorial recount of the meetings.
2016 Earth Day Farmer's Market:
Due to Ei's strong, longstanding EPA Region 4 relationship, Public Relations Specialist Davina Marraccini called Ei to recommend a chef for the 2016 Atlanta Federal Center Earth Day Farmer’s Market the following week.
Thanks to Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer's quick action, Levy Restaurants Chef Juliet educated students and attendees at the event. Levy Restaurants provides the foodservice for the GWCC and its affiliated facilities.
Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC)
The ZWZ launched in February 2009 at the GWCC in an acclaimed press conference led by the EPA Region 4 Acting Regional Director. Thus, the strong GWCC | Ei relationship is grounded within Ei's foundation.
In spring 2012, the Georgia Dome accepted the SFCI Event Venue Pilot invitation. Along with the GWCC and Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Dome was one of three facilities under the state-owned Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA). In addition, the GWCCA manages the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.
SFCI Team @ Ga Dome
With the spring 2017 Georgia Dome decommissioning, the SFCI Event Venue Pilot shifts to the GWCC.
Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech):
At Holly's request, Cindy Jackson, Georgia Tech manager, solid waste management & recycling, hosted Tim for an afternoon of fun and education at the GA Tech campus.
The gathering catalyst was Tim's enthusiasm to create a successful Atlanta Falcon's tailgate recycling program for the 2012 season. Years ago Cindy launched GA Tech tailgate recycling on game days with success and was happy to share her program logistics. Conversation quickly moved beyond tailgate recycling to GA Tech's comprehensive program, culminating in an amazing campus tour.
GWCC Ga Tech Tour
Subsequent to the introduction, GA Tech and GWCC developed a close working relationship and Tim | Cindy separately thanked Ei for the introduction. The ZWA Blog post, ZWZ Participants Work Together, is an overview of the tour and the Ei FB album, 02-27-12 GA Tech Hosts GWCC, is the pictorial recap.
Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session:
Ready to expand their recycling practices to the next dimension, Tim requested Ei to present a comprehensive Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session to Levy Restaurants' downtown campus, including the GWCC, Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, Phillips Arena and the under-construction Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Ei Partner Rick Lombardo educates
on compostable bags
The Ei Team crafted a powerful two-hour session that included ample time for Q&A and discussion throughout the presentations. On April 8, 2015 the Ei Partners converged on Atlanta for the Levy education session.
The ZWA Blog article, Compostable F&B Packaging: integral to zero waste programs and soil rebuilding, is an overview of the session and the important role packaging plays in zero waste programs; the Ei FB album, 04-08-15 Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session, gives a session pictorial recap.
King of Crops Farm Tour:
On February 6, 2017, Ei orchestrated a King of Crops Farm food waste composting tour for Tim. Compostwheels Founder David Paull hosted the tour; CW partners with King of Crops for commercial food waste composting at the farm. ... and Holly's home food waste is delivered to the farm!
David educating Tim on food
A pictorial recount of the tour is included in the Ei FB album, Ei Connects.
SC State Government & Hospitality Association
Ei has a longstanding history with South Carolina (SC) government and the state's hospitality industry. In August 2011 the SC Hospitality Association (SCHA) brought a contingent of Board members, business association executives and City of Columbia staff and councilman to Atlanta for a ZWZ tour. The ZWA Blog article, ATL ZWZ Team Hosts SC Hospitality Tour, gives an overview of the tour, documenting the strong food waste recovery enthusiasm; the Ei FB album, 08-11 SCHA ATL ZWZ Tour, gives a pictorial recount.
With the SC operators on-board, the SCHA came to Atlanta in November 2011 for a second tour focused on the commercial food waste composting destination. The November contingent consisted of trade association | non-profit executives, city & state officials along with two Columbia hotel executives. From Atlanta, EPA Region 4 and Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sustainability Division staff joined the Ei-hosted tour and meetings to share their ZWZ program development experiences.
SC zero waste tour group
The ZWA Blog article, An Encore ZWZ Performance, documents the tour. For the tour pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB albums, DAY 1 - SC Hospitality 2nd ATL ZWZ Tour and DAY 2 - SC Hospitality 2nd ATL ZWZ Tour.
Upstate Food Recovery Event:
On October 6, 2015 the SC Department of Commerce (SCDC) hosted the Upstate Food Recovery Event in Greenville. Prominent industry leaders shared their impressive food recovery practices in-place, along with goals for further reducing, donating and composting food waste. In recognition of their longstanding Ei relationship, Holly gave the keynote presentation during the locally-sourced lunch served on compostable serviceware.
Kim Brunson with Publix
Holly's presentation ended with the vital role food waste collection for compost plays in rebuilding our soils. Healthy soils produce nutritious, delicious food, retain | filter water, and prevent excessive erosion. Holly's PPT presentation is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page. The ZWA Blog article, SC ripe for food recovery, gives an event overview, including presentations by Publix, Michelin and other industry leaders.
U.S Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC)
Ei and the USZWBC forged a strong relationship from its 2012 inception when Holly presented at the inaugural National Zero Waste Business Conference. With tremendous synergies, Ei connections were a valuable resource as the USZWBC grew in prominence.
On October 5, 2016 the U.S.Green Building Council (USGBC) and USZWBC formally joined forces to advance zero waste business practices. The ZWA Blog article, USGBC Empowers Zero Waste Industry: USGBC & USZWBC join forces, announces the monumental achievement for the zero waste industry.
USZWBC Board signing
Ei continues to work closely with former USZWBC Executive Director Stephanie Barger in her new USGBC Director of Market Development, Zero Waste Programs position.
Ei-Hosted NZWBC Panels:
At the second annual NZWBC, Holly orchestrated the first Ei-hosted panel presentation, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, comprised of Ei Partners. The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport, a powerful USZWBC conference panel, gives an overview of the panel presentations.
Zero Waste is a Team Sport panel
Thus, an Ei-hosted conference panel model was born: Holly crafts a pertinent panel topic, recruits panelist from the Ei Team, coaches panel PPT presentations to ensure seamless flow, and moderates the panel at the conference. The Ei-Hosted Conference Panel page details the plethora of conference panels.
Ei-hosted panels were standard practice at future NZWBC.
2014 NZWBC Conference:
Ei took a leadership role in bringing the 2014 NZWBC to Atlanta and influenced the local flavor of the excellent conference program. ZWZ Chair & Ei Advisor Laura Turner Seydel welcomed conference attendees to Atlanta with her opening remarks. In addition to USZWBC introductions to Atlanta zero waste icons, Ei hosted the following panels:
Scott Jenkins & Holly
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Shines as Zero Waste Conference Host City, provides an in-depth synopsis on Ei Partners' and Strategic Allies' role in the conference program.USZWBC | NZWBC Official Media Partner:Ei served as the Official NZWBC Media Partner for the 2014, 2015 & 2016 conferences and as the Official USZWBC Media partner for 2015 & 2016. In addition to writing USZWBC-related blog articles, Ei served as a connection base for the USZWBC on many fronts. With the USZWBC under the USGBC umbrella, the strong Ei relationship moves into a broader scope.
- The Atlanta Zero Waste Story, opening plenary panel moderated by Holly
- Scaling Up Compost in Charlotte, NC, breakout panel moderated by Holly
- Recycling Refinement ... moving beyond landfill diversion, breakout panel moderated by Holly
- Zero Waste, Georgia Grown, breakout panel moderated by then Ei Program Administrator Melissa Selem
Zero Food Waste Journeys
In 2015 the Ei SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - embarked on zero food waste journeys at two prominent Atlanta events, RayDay and Afternoon in the Country (AITC). Both events were hosted by the Inn at Serenbe, within the Serenbe community.
SFCI Co-Chair Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks took a leadership role with SMAT during the education, planning, and execution phases. The first step was to educate event organizers on the importance of using BPI-Certified compostable serviceware. Ei contracted with Let Us Compost (LUC) to orchestrate the AITC | RayDay on-site food waste compost operations along with post-event follow-up.
Boyd Leak and Doug &
his wife working AITC
Amidst idyllic weather and a sole foodservice provider, RayDay achieved zero food waste, including the kitchen scraps from the food truck caterer.
While a perfect scenario came together for RayDay, AITC was riddled with extraordinary challenges on event day. A rainy event day, coupled with prior ten days straight of rain, culminated in tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the event. ... and there were 90+ chefs | restaurants participating at AITC! Thanks to heroic team work, a total of 1,800 pounds of food waste was composted on site.
With perfect timing for the 2016 Annual Ei Partner Meeting, NatureWorks published the RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction and Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case studies to showcase the 2015 Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys. The case studies are announced in the IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2016: Year of Recognition, within the powerful meeting recap.The ZWA Blog article, NatureWorks publishes zero food waste case studies, gives an overview of the case studies along with links to download the documents.
Affairs to Remember (ATR)
In 2009 ATR was designated Atlanta's First ZWZ Caterer by the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA), the ZWZ founding organization within the Georgia Restaurant Association umbrella. In addition, ATR Managing Director Patrick Cuccaro served on the GFA Advisory Board and was instrumental with Ei's 2010 formation as the new ZWZ home.
The Ei | ATR connection grows stronger each year. With exemplary hospitality, ATR hosts powerful Ei-orchestrated introductory meetings. Beyond the important business at hand, guests are treated to a divinely delicious experience!
For Ei's five-year anniversary, ATR planted a six-foot Shrangri-La Ginkgo tree honoring Ei in the Virginia - Highlands neighborhood.
ATR Ei Tree planting team
Sponsored by Councilmember Felicia Moore, the City of Atlanta proclaimed November 11, 2014 "Affairs to Remember Caterers Day" in recognition of sustainability efforts, and in particular the milestone of having diverted one million pounds of recoverable materials from Georgia landfills.
The ZWA Blog article, ... and the journey began with a delicious divorce from the landfill!, announces the proclamation and includes the ATR sustainability story along with several of the below introductions.
SC ZWZ Tours:
In the above mentioned SC ZWZ Tours, ATR hosted a lovely lunch at their offices for the August 2011 tours. In addition to an impressive ATR facility tour, guests were treated to a 100% compostable boxed lunch. Back in 2011 it took research and ingenuity to craft a compostable lunch with readily available products.
Green Seal (GS) Lunch:
When Ei Strategic Ally Green Seal (GS) President & CEO Arthur Weissman visited Atlanta in February 2016, ATR hosted a luncheon to introduce the potential Ei | GS Atlanta Hospitality Program to industry leaders. City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability Senior Policy Advisor Boyd Leake and Tim (GWCC) joined the lunch. The Ei | GS program focuses on the GS foodservice and cleaning certifications.
ATR GS lunch group photo
City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability:
Continuing tradition, Ei facilitated an introductory lunch meeting in June 2015 for the ATR Team and in-coming City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability Stephanie Benfield. Several years earlier Ei orchestrated a similar introductory luncheon for then City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability Denise Quarles.
When the City of Atlanta was chosen as one of the 100 Resilient Cities pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, Stephanie was appointed to the Chief Resilience Officer position.
March 2017 lunch group photo
On March 8, 2017 Ei orchestrated a powerful meeting of Atlanta's sustainability leadership hosted by ATR. The overt meeting purpose was to introduce new City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability John Rutherford Seydel to ATR. In addition to John and Boyd from the City of Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz Stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins and Ray C. Anderson Foundation Executive Director John Lanier joined the meeting. It was an inspiring lunch filled with empowering conversation and amazing cuisine.
Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meetings
Each December 2011 through 2014, trade association and non-profit executives from the entire sustainable food & beverage packaging value chain met in Washington D.C. for a day of vibrant dialogue and sharing.
For the final three years, Global Green's D.C. office hosted the meeting. Ei oversaw meeting administration, moderated the meeting presentations and strategy session, and documented the powerful meeting dialogue in a ZWA Blog article.
F&B Value Chain Final Meeting
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
Mission Accomplished: the original meeting intention was to harness industry synergies among the complementary organizations. During the 2014 presentation, it was empowering to witness the many joint pilots | programs among meeting participants.
The ZWA Blog article, Sustainable F&B Packaging: moving from an emerging to a maturing industry, documents the final 2014 meeting.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS)
Ei connected with MBS General Manager Scott Jenkins upon his Spring 2014 arrival in Atlanta, three years prior to the stadium's summer 2017 opening. During his first months in Atlanta, Ei was instrumental in introducing Scott to Atlanta's sustainability community.
More recently, Ei introduced Scott's team to a local food waste collection option for the stadium. In addition, Scott attended the previously mentioned ATR-hosted City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability luncheon.
2014 NZWBC Plenary Panel:
Within weeks of his arrival, Scott served on the above mentioned NZWBC The Atlanta Zero Waste Story opening plenary panel orchestrated by Holly. The plenary panel was Scott's first presentation as MBS GM!
Scott during NZWBC panel Q&A
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
Atlanta Ei Partner Tours:
In June 2014 Scott joined the Atlanta Ei Partner Tours for several local tours and dinner where he connected with industry colleagues. At the GWCC tour, Scott educated the Ei Partners on the MBS and explored avenues for collaboration.
Lambda Alpha International:
At Holly's invitation Scott gave an empowering Sustainability: an economic driver presentation at the February 15, 2017 Lambda Alpha International (LAI) Atlanta Chapter luncheon meeting. LAI is a land economic honorary; Holly was inducted in 2013 and serves on the local chapter Board.
Scott with the Ei entourage
It was inspiring to learn the intricacies of how "MBS will be the Heart of Atlanta and home to the biggest championships in the United States." Throughout his presentation, Scott emphasized the economics grounding the MBS sustainability commitment.
The IMPACT Blog article, Sustainability: an economic driver, is an overview of Scott's presentation, which is available for download on the Ei LAI page.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)
In 2012 EMF CEO Andrew Morlet connected with Ei within weeks of joining the powerful organization. During the Circular Economy 100 (CE100) formation, Ei was instrumental in industry education and introductions. With robust synergies, the Ei | EMF connection remains strong.
First Annual CE100 Summit:
Ei Chair Scott Seydel represented Ei at the June 2013 First Annual CE100 Summit hosted in London. Prior to the summit, Scott met with Andrew and Dame Ellen MacArthur and formed a longstanding bond. The IMPACT Blog, A Revolutionary Evolution - going from a linear to circular economy, introduces the Circular Economy along with a CE100 Summit overview.
In November 2015 Scott joined the the EMF USA Board in preparation for the U.S. Circular Economy Program February 2016 launch.
During a 2015 eight-hour Atlanta Airport layover, Andrew and Holly connected for their first in-person encounter. Ensuring a productive visit, Holly scheduled a meeting with then Delta Director, Safety, Health, Environment Helen Howes.
A lovely dinner followed with the Georgia Tech Center for Sustainable Business Founding Managing Director Howard Connell and one his colleagues. Timing was perfect for the Andrew | Howard introduction as Georgia Tech was interested in the EMF Pioneer Universities Program.
In the early research phase for the scoping paper, Andrew requested Holly to assist Doug Walker, lead author and program manager, with education on the U.S. state of urban organic recycling. In addition to the education, Holly introduced Doug to Ei Strategic Ally Brenda Platt, Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) co-director, as an excellent resource via her Neighborhood Soils Rebuilding and community composting programs in-place.
Prior to publication, Holly reviewed the document draft and submitted content comments.
On March 28, 2017 EMF issued the Urban Biocycles scoping paper. It is a well-researched paper on the current state of global organic recycling with a focus on the economic opportunities using a Circular Economy approach for urban organics. The Urban Biocycles scoping paper sets a solid foundation for further research and development of urban organic recycling | manufacturing systems within a Circular Economy.
Ei | Holly and ILSR | Brenda are listed in the paper credits as Expert Input and Case Study Contributors.
Connectivity and collaboration are keys for success, especially when forging industry frontiers. In 2012, Ei introduced the power of the WE Consciousness in the ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport:
The "I" focus is replaced with the "WE" focus. The impact of our actions extends to the entire community and beyond; collective action accomplishes more profound results than singular effort. By working together, synergies are unlocked, unnecessary boundaries, including competitive barriers, disintegrate, and creative energies catapult possibilities into grounded realities.The Power of Connection is a valuable asset. Ei is honored to serve as the conduit between prominent industry friends and facilitate powerful introductions. When we work together, the possibilities are endless and solutions dissolve monumental barriers.
Carbon Crisis: simply a matter of balance
From the onset, the "carbon issue" caused confusion and often misinterpretation. How can carbon be bad when it is the Earth's building block? What is a carbon footprint? What are the differences between the varying carbon compounds and how are they generated? Is carbon the culprit for climate change?
It is time to simplify the carbon scenario and bring clarity to the confusion. By aligning with the perfect systems inherent within Nature, simple solutions emerge that bring the Earth's carbon cycles back into balance.
Carbon Footprint Background:
Introduced in 2007 by Anindita Mitra, CREA Affiliates founding principal, the term carbon footprint was first used as a measure of the carbon emission in the City of Longwood, Washington energy plan. A derivative of the ecological footprint, developed by Rees and Wackernagel in the 1990s, the carbon footprint measures the use of carbon and serves as an indicator of unsustainable energy use. (1)
In June 2009 Elemental Impact's (Ei) predecessor, the Green Foodservice Alliance, hosted a Carbon WHAT? seminar in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4. The seminar clarified the recently introduced carbon footprint and carbon credit via the following topics:
• How carbon impacts the environment.
• How carbon is generated.
• What is a carbon footprint?
• How to calculate a carbon footprint.
• What are carbon credits?
• How to generate carbon credits.
• How to purchase carbon credits (if needed).
A seminar transcript provided by the EPA is available on the Ei References & Materials page under the Other Sustainability Topics category.
The 2012 Simple Show two-minute Carbon Footprint video gives an excellent overview of the comprehensive nature of the carbon footprint calculation.
The Earth's Carbon Cycle
Although the carbon footprint is explained in many diverse sources, confusion remains about how carbon can be "bad;" it is the essence of Earth lifeforms. In simplistic terms, the Earth's carbon cycle is out of balance.
The Earth's carbon cycle maintains balance between five carbon pools:
Earth Carbon Pools
image courtesy of The Soil Story
Removal and burning of stored carbon from the fossil pool in the form of coal, natural gas and petroleum is the catalyst for the out-of-balance state. When burned as an energy source, fossil carbon is transferred into the atmosphere and ocean carbon pools. In addition, common commercial agriculture practices remove carbon from the soil as well as prevent carbon sequestering in amounts necessary to maintain balance.
To date, an estimated 800,000,000,000 tons of carbon is released from the soil and fossil pools into the atmosphere. A portion of the atmosphere carbon is absorbed by the oceans; the carbon dioxide reacts with sea water to produce acid, causing Ocean Acidification with severe implications.
A Simple Solution
An empowering four-minute video, The Soil Story states the problem and the solution are a matter of balance. Simply: there is too much carbon in the atmosphere and ocean pools. To restore balance, excess carbon must transfer to the fossil, biosphere and/or soil pools.
The video explains the Earth's carbon cycle in an easy-to-understand format where soil is the hero for regaining balance.
Plants serve as atmosphere carbon pumps via photosynthesis. The soil stores the "pumped carbon" as food for its incredible ecosystem, including a wide array of invertebrates and microorganisms.
Healthy, well-structured soil produces nutritious food and gains more carbon from plant decay. In addition, healthy soil filters and retains water - up to 40% more water than out-of-balance soil. A positive feedback loop within the carbon cycle restores balance.
photo courtesy of the
Marin Carbon Project
Regenerative agriculture is essential to restore the carbon cycle balance. Current soil tilling practices break the carbon cycle and harm the soil ecosystem. Thus, petroleum-based fertilizers are used to grow crops. Yet these crops are devoid of many nutrients provided by the soil ecosystem.
Rotating livestock grazing fields augments soil rebuilding. Manure worked into the soil by hooves plays a similar role to field-applied compost. Post-grazing period, the field replenishes itself with native plants. The cycle continues by the plants pumping carbon into the soil via strong root systems.
Ryland Englehart, Cafe Gratitude owner and Kiss the Ground co-founder, completes his video narration with the following powerful statement:
Regeneration of soil is the task of our generation.The video emphasizes the importance of reducing | stopping burning fossil fuels.
Soil Restoration | Carbon Sequestering
The U.C. Berkeley Cal Alumni Association California Magazine November 2014 article New Global Warming Remedy: Turning Rangelands into Carbon-Sucking Vacuums documents a carbon sequestering study at a prominent 540-acre west Marin County ranch in the San Francisco Bay area. Owned by John Wick and his wife Peggy Rathmann, Nicasio Native Grass Ranch was a perfect site to document grassland restoration coupled with carbon sequestering.
Wick and Rathmann contracted with rangeland ecologist and Carbon Cycle Director Jeff Creque, to embark on a grassland restoration project. With Creque at the helm, the project evolved into a well-researched soil restoration | carbon sequestering study at the ranch.
For the study, cattle were re-introduced to the ranch with rotating grazing patterns similar to the feeding patterns of the long-vanished elk herds. In addition, a single half-inch layer of compost was applied on numerous test plots.
In Wick's words, "The changes were dramatic.We had native grasses and wildflowers coming back, and native birds were returning. You could just see our grasslands functioning at a higher state.”
Creque confirms the success in more technical terms:
“By increasing soil carbon, you’re increasing soil fertility and water retention capacity. That results in more robust vegetation, which captures more and more carbon from the atmosphere. This carbon is stored underground in the roots, in residual dry matter (on the surface) and in enhanced populations of microorganisms in the soil.”
Testing confirmed the composted plots sequestered from one-half to three tons of carbon per hectare per year as a result of the single application. In Creque's words, "The revitalized rangelands essentially turn into landscape-scale vacuum cleaners, sucking prodigious quantities of carbon from the atmosphere."
photo courtesy of the Marin Carbon Project
Carbon dating tests confirmed most of the carbon was sequestered from the atmosphere; the compost served as a catalyst to re-ignite the soil carbon cycle.
The Nicasio Native Grass Ranch study further evolved into The Marin Carbon Project (MCP), co-founded by Wick & Creque. After a vigorous vetting process, the MCP Protocols were approved by the American Carbon Registry for voluntary carbon credits.
... and the article ends with an important caveat: Yes, it’s apparently a very good thing to turn all our kitchen slop into dark, rich compost and spread it on our rangelands. But we also have to stop incinerating the residues of dead dinosaurs.
Vast rangelands may serve as carbon sinks - a forest, ocean, or other natural environment viewed in terms of its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - and contribute to restoring balance within the carbon cycle. The Nicasio Native Grass Ranch study substantiates compost as a catalyst for carbon sink creation.
Is there an adequate quantity of compost for a half-inch application on the rangelands?
NO! Yet compost recipe ingredients are readily available. Food waste, a nitrogen ingredient in the compost manufacturing process, is an abundant, continually replenished resource generated in urban areas as well as at food processing facilities. Unfortunately, food waste is most often treated as trash, versus a valuable resource.
According to the EPA, 95% of discarded food waste is landfill destined. In landfills food waste produces methane gas, a Greenhouse Gas 20 - 25% more potent than carbon dioxide. Americans disposed of an estimated 38 million tons of food waste in 2014.
Food waste compost manufacturing faces two significant challenges: 1> limited state-permitted facilities and 2> contamination within the food waste streams collected. The U.S. Composting Council is committed to resolving industry challenges and building strong compost manufacturing infrastructure.
As the forerunner in the commercial collection of food waste for compost, Ei was home to the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), launched in 2009 and sold to the National Restaurant Association in 2012. One of the ZWZ participation criteria was the collection of food waste for compost.
Commercial food waste
from a restaurant
In 2015, Ei proclaimed post-consumer food waste collection for compost was the primary focus of the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Pilots (the Atlanta Airport, Georgia World Congress Center and Concord Mills).
To address food waste contamination, Ei announced the Macro Cost of Micro Contamination focus area at the 2016 National Zero Waste Business Conference. Single-use plastic packaging is a major culprit in food waste contamination, especially when fragmented into microplastics. In foodservice operations, Ei promotes the use of BPI-Certified Compostable products for single-use packaging.
In addition to rangelands, Ei is eager to explore creating urban carbon sinks. Common area lands along with corporate, government and university grounds are potential carbon sink sites. Other promising carbon sink sites are roadway system medians, shoulders and buffer zones. Several prominent Atlanta-based entities expressed enthusiasm to participate in carbon sequestering pilots using compost manufactured from their campus food waste.
Ei Partner Rick Lombardo
introducing the Macro Cost
of Micro Contamination
At the 2017 Word Economics Forum Annual Meeting, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) introduced an Urban Biocycle Economy concept paper that addresses nutrient cycles within urban areas. The EMF paper has potential to propel research and pilots related to urban carbon cycles. Formal release is slated for March 2017.
Carbon sequestering via carbon sink creation may serve as the catalyst to shift food waste from landfill destination to compost manufacturing. With strong emphasis on community and corporate carbon footprints, carbon sequestration is a powerful incentive to drive compost demand, which in turn drives supply creation.
Carbon crisis solutions are grounded in simple tactics: 1> align systems within Nature's proven cycles and 2> rely on basic supply | demand economics. Remember the carbon crisis is simply a matter of returning to balance!
(1) Wikipedia Carbon Footprint page.
NatureWorks publishes zero food waste case studies
With perfect timing for the November Annual Elemental Impact (Ei) Partner Meeting, Ei Partner NatureWorks published the RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction and Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case studies to showcase the 2015 Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys. The case studies are announced in the IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2016: Year of Recognition, within the powerful meeting recap.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 within the Serenbe Community. In addition, AITC Event Producer ideaLand secured a zero food waste commitment for 2015 RayDay hosted at Serenbe.Commercial back-of-the-house collection of food waste for compost best practices were established via the Zero Waste Zones, an Ei program launched in 2009 and sold in 2012 to the National Restaurant Association. In 2011 Ei launched the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) to address front-of-the-house food waste practices where the consumer is responsible for material disposition.Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport joined as the SFCI - Airport Pilot, followed by the Georgia Dome as the SFCI - Event Venue Pilot and Concord Mills, a Simon Mall in Charlotte, NC, as the SFCI - Shopping Mall Pilot.The Ei SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - was eager to work with RayDay and AITC management on establishing best food waste practices at an annual event. The following local government entities and companies supported SMAT with the AITC | RayDay food waste journeys:
An annual event zero food waste plan breaks down into three main categories, each equally important for effective execution:Food & Beverage (F&B) Serviceware:
- City of Atlanta, Mayor's Office of Sustainability
- ideaLand, AITC | RayDay Event Producer
- U.S. Environmental Protection Division, Region 4
- Inn at Serenbe | Serenbe Community, Event Host
Food Waste Collection:
- Compostable packaging – single-use F&B serviceware must be BPI Certified compostable; an exception is pre-packaged beverages in recyclable containers, such as bottled water, soft drinks and beer.
- Education – event F&B providers must be educated on the WHY, WHAT & HOW to serve in compostable packaging; includes support with purchasing unique serving items.
- On-site Monitoring – volunteers | event staff visit foodservice operators upon arrival at the event to observe any F&B serviceware or other items brought by the establishment that may contaminate the food waste stream.
Ei Chair Scott Seydel with the
RayDay Waste Ambassadors
- Waste | recycling bins – in the beginning, a three-tier bin is used: 1> Food Waste, 2> Recycling, 3> Landfill; at future events the system evolves into a two-tier system: 1> Food Waste, 2> Recycling.
- Clear signage – the bins must be supported by clear signage designating proper disposal; visuals are most helpful.
- Monitor attendee disposal – volunteers | event staff assist attendees with disposal of items into proper bins to prevent contamination.
NatureWorks included a modified zero food waste plan as best practices in the case studies.At both events Ei Partner Eco-Products stepped forward as a key in-kind event sponsor for BPI Certified compostable plates, flatware and beverage cups. In addition, Eco-Products played a vital role in education support and created clear signage for event food waste bins. Compostable bags were provided by Ei Partner NaturBag.
- Donation – ensure a plan is in-place for donation of leftover food in accordance with the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
- Compost – deliver remaining food waste, back & front-of-the-house, to a composting site operating within state food waste permit regulations.
- Animal feed – when compostable packaging is mixed with food waste it is unfit for animal consumption; food waste generated under the same roof as meat is often not permitted for animal feed pursuant to respective State Department of Agriculture regulations due to past disease outbreaks.
AITC compost pile complete
as the day segued into nightideaLand confirmed Serenbe was open to adding post-consumer food waste & compostable packaging to their farm waste compost pile. Ei and Ei Supporter Community Environmental Management secured a Letter of Interpretation from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division stating the event food waste falls into Category I of the permit regulations; thus, a formal composting permit is not required within the regulations.With on-site composting, the carbon footprint associated with food waste composting was reduced from over 100 miles to the nearest state-permitted facility down to zero!Ei contracted with Let Us Compost (LUC) to orchestrate the on-site food waste compost operations at AITC | RayDay along with post-event follow-up.
RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction
Ei Founder Holly Elmore
showing the food truck signage
photo courtesy Scott SeydelOn October 11, 2015 the Ray C. Anderson Foundation (RCAF) hosted the third annual RayDay in a lovely Serenbe country meadow. Over 1400 guests celebrated Ray's legacy, learned at the plethora of educational booths, and enjoyed excellent cuisine served by The Food Movement (TFM) food trucks.A perfect scenario came together for RayDay: great, dry weather, paid Waste Ambassadors and one caterer. The event achieved zero food waste, including TFM's prep scraps from their kitchen.In the case study RCAF Executive Director John Lanier confirms the foundation's commitment to "walk their sustainability talk" with the following quote:
"Waste is such a pervasive concept in our present day society, and efforts to reduce it should be advanced as often as possible. We at the Ray C. Anderson Foundation are particularly proud that we were able to achieve waste reduction success at our flagship annual event, RayDay."The ZWA Blog article, Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success, chronicles the RayDay impressive accomplishment.
Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction SuccessKnown as one of Atlanta’s most unforgettable food and wine tasting events, AITC is a fund-raiser for local non-profits and scholarships for women in the culinary profession. The November 8, 2015 AITC was the event's 15th Anniversary, perfect timing to embark on formal zero food waste practices.
While a perfect scenario came together for RayDay, AITC was riddled with extraordinary challenges on event day. A rainy event day, coupled with prior ten days straight of rain, greeted event organizers, participants and guests with tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the event. ... and there were 90+ chefs | restaurants participating at AITC!
Kristen preparingfood waste
for compost in pouring rain.
Thanks to SuperHero Kristen Baskin, LUC owner, 1800 pounds of clean food waste were included in the on-farm compost pile. Throughout the day, Kristen kept the volunteers efficient weighing food waste bags as they arrived at the compost area, cleansing the food waste of contaminants, and sorting flatware for grinding before added to the pile.
The ZWA Blog article, Zero Food Waste Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned, chronicles how success prevailed through beyond challenging conditions.
Thank you NatureWorks!Extensive pre-planning and education were key ingredients for RayDay | AITC post-consumer food waste collection for on-site composting success. SFCI Co-Chair Doug Kunnemann with NatureWorks took the leadership role with SMAT work on the Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys.
Doug presenting at the 2015
Annual Ei Partner MeetingA few months prior to the events, SMAT hosted a two-hour Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session for the AITC Sustainability Task Force; the session was a modification of the April Georgia World Congress Center-requested education seminar for Levy Restaurants. The ZWA Blog article, Compostable F&B Packaging: integral to zero waste programs and soil rebuilding, gives an in-depth overview of the session.Post-events, Doug led a 45-minute integrated presentation on the Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys at the 2015 Annual Ei Partner Meeting. At the January 2016 U.S. Composting Council Conference, Doug was the lead presenter on an Ei-hosted & NatureWorks-sponsored panel, Getting to Zero Waste: Composting at Special Events. The ZWA Blog article, 2016 USCC Conference: Soils for a Greener World, showcases the Ei panel; PPT presentations are available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.
In his below quote Doug emphasizes the importance of collective team effort to establish zero food waste practices at annual events:
Regardless of venue or festival size – a team effort will result in successful food and compostable food serviceware waste diversion. A collective effort led by Ei included the education of both venue service providers and attendee’s on the benefits of diverting food/compostable food serviceware waste streams from landfill to local - and in both cases on-site composting. Final comment - you don’t need a large public or private commercial composting facility to deliver successful outcomes as both these case studies illustrate – all it takes is a focused team!The RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction and Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case studies validate the important role the events played in crafting post-consumer food waste best practices for annual events. Integral to success is the use of BPI Certified compostable packaging for food and beverage service ware.
NatureWorks is a world leading biopolymers supplier and innovator with its Ingeo portfolio of naturally advanced materials made from renewable, abundant feedstocks with performance and economics that compete with oil-based intermediates, plastics, and fibers, and provide brand owners new cradle-to-cradle options after the use of their products.
Eco-Products cold cups made
with Ingeo... and NatureWorks is a Founding Ei Partner, providing loyal support since the Green Foodservice Alliance (Ei's predessor) days!A big thank you to Andy Cain for her excellent composition of the case studies from the plethora of Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys documentation.
Case study pdf documents are available for download on the respective Ei pages, Afternoon in the Country and RayDay within the Zero Food Waste Journeys section.
Thank you NatureWorks for publishing industry case studies that showcase what CAN be done when a powerful team works in unison. May others follow the well-documented path for zero food waste at annual events begun with RayDay | AITC.
Recycling: The Business Case
An article series: A Recycling or Contamination Crisis? Article #2In early November 2016, the ZWA Blog article, A Recycling or Contamination Crisis, an article series, published with acclaimed respect and empowering readership. Overall, the response to the article is a "Thank You" for clarifying the obvious, explaining the current recycling scenario, and invoking the Power of Consumer Demand to create solutions.
The article's opening paragraph sets the tone for the big hauler perspective and responsibility for the current scenario:
Over the past year numerous mainstream media articles presented a national recycling crisis. In John Tierney's October 2015 New York Times article The Reign of Recycling, Waste Management (WM) CEO David Steiner is quoted, "If you believe recycling is good for the planet and that we need to do more of it, then there’s a crisis to confront."
Published to support the December 8 U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) | Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) Recycling: The Business Case webinar, the article was featured in webinar promotion.
Susan V. Collins
photo courtesy of CRI
Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore moderated and co-presented the powerful Recycling: The Business Case webinar with Container Recycling Institute President Susan Collins. The webinar explained the current scenario, how we got here, and effective paths to recycling PROFIT centers.
Current Scenario:In her presentation, Susan opened with recycling's benefits beyond landfill diversion. According to UPSTREAM (formerly the Product Policy Institute) research, 44% of U.S. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions are generated from products and packaging. In addition to the GHG emissions, manufacturing virgin products is energy intensive, depletes the Earth's resources, and damages fragile local eco-systems. From Susan's presentation:
In total, about 2.3 million American homes could have all their energy needs met (heating & cooling, cooking, utilities, etc.) with the amount of energy required to replace the beverage containers wasted in 2010.Contributing to wasted beverage containers is the high contamination levels within single-stream recycling, often the only option available for municipalities and businesses. According to 2015 CRI research, on average 75% of recyclables collected in single-stream are recycled into new products; on average 25% of single-stream recycling is landfill destined due to contamination.
The following images from Susan's presentation clearly show the difference between glass separately collected via bottle bills (or other systems) and single-stream recycling glass:
Bottle Bill Collected Glass vs. Single-Stream Collected Glass
Many sustainability reports include collection stats versus actual recycled material stats. Thus, single-stream recycling inflates reported recycling rates and creates a false sense of accomplishment. In addition, high contamination rates understate the actual collection cost per ton.
A proven municipal successful recycling system is dual-stream recycling: fiber (paper, cardboard) is collected separate from containers (metal, plastic & glass).
It is important to follow the material and understand the final destination. WHY: 1> receive services paid for via hauling contracts and 2> reputation risk of false recycling reporting. For protection, Susan recommends material quality and actual recycling reporting provisions are included in hauler contracts.
Kansas City consumer glass collection
photo courtesy of Susan Collins
Susan concluded her impressive presentation with examples of successful municipal recycling systems in the U.S. and abroad. For the City of Los Angeles, the newly launched program requires better material reporting and recycling facilities must be certified. An overall program emphasis: higher quality materials create better jobs locally.
Recycling PROFIT CentersIn her presentation, Holly focused on recycling PROFIT centers supported by success stories. While Susan included municipal recycling examples, Holly's focus was the corporate | organization arena.
The Path to a Recycling Business Model slide set the stage for Holly's presentation:
Holly emphasized the list was not chronological and steps often intertwined.
- Organization Culture | Top Management Buy-In.
- Material Baseline Assessment | Local Available Infrastructure.
- Clear Program Communication & Training.
- Reward & Promote Successes.
- Take Baby steps, lots & lots of baby steps.
Organization Culture | Top Management Buy-InCorporate culture dictates acceptable and unacceptable behavior within daily operations. Ultimately, top management sets the overall corporate culture through policy, reward systems, and program support. Top management reports to the Board of Directors and shareholders and is the steward of the organization's bottom line. For top management's complete buy-in, a recycling program must improve the bottom-line or at the very least be cost-neutral.In companies with an empowering culture, the organization's zero waste commitment is included in employee hiring and training processes. A Green Team is established with the team leader in a decision-making position, or at least with direct access to a decision-maker. Green Team participation is written into the employee's job description - VERY important at performance review time!Successful Green Teams are comprised of members from across the organization's departments including operations, janitorial and administrative. The team meets on a regular basis and shares within their respective departments.Employees experience inefficiencies within daily operations and are often the best avenue for waste reduction and recycling improvement ideas. It is important to encourage, recognize, and reward employees who contribute suggestions for program enhancement.Supported by the organization's culture, employee perspectives shift from viewing operation by-products as "trash" to valuable material. In addition, clean material is perceived as a revenue generator while contaminated items are viewed as a business expense.WE Consciousness is key to program success! Across the organization, employees must work in unison towards clearly defined, common goals. The Green Team establishes protocol and practices included in employee training and communicated via signage through out the facility.... and WE Consciousness extends beyond the organization's boundaries. It is important to work as a team with suppliers, purveyors, waste | recycling haulers, and customers to minimize waste and maximize reuse and recycling.The WE Consciousness was introduced in the September 2012 ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste is a Team Sport. The May 2013 ZWA article, Zero Waste Success Requires WE Consciousness, chronicles the 2013 National Zero Waste Business Conference's impressive program.
Material Baseline Assessment | Program Parameters
Waste audit in-process
photo courtesy The Pitt NewsOne of the first action steps in crafting a recycling program is establishing the material baseline via a waste audit. Performed by the waste hauler or a third party contractor, an audit generally consists of spreading a waste compactor contents on a tarp to separate the recyclable material from the trash.It is important the Green Team attends the waste audit and documents it via video and still photos. If available, recruit top management to attend; they will see first-hand the cost of sending valuable material to the landfill. Remember: make the waste audit FUN to maximize effectiveness!The waste audit will identify the recycling "easy wins:" 1> highest value material and 2> largest quantity of material type.Source-separated CLEAN material is the foundation of a recycling PROFIT center! For smaller generators, dual-stream recycling (containers separated from fiber) may work well as long material does NOT go to a single-stream recycling MRF.A next step is to determine local end markets available for the material. In many cities, there are grass roots recycling companies who collect moderate amounts of source-separated material. Non-profits and government offices are an excellent resource for local recycling options.The following proven Program Parameters were presented:Total Material Management Approach
- Entire material stream evaluated in one cost | revenue center.
- Materials with solid end markets (e.g. aluminum, mixed paper, certain plastics) subsidize more challenging streams generated in operations such as food waste and glass.
-Important to track | report program financial, tonnage recycled and other successes.
Balers- Key to on-site material source separation.
- Mini-balers are perfect for small to moderate generators.
Clear Program Communication & TrainingFor success, clear concise communication supported by training is critical. Once the Green Team establishes the parties responsible for disposition, communication tools are crafted for the targeted audience. Internal signage may differ from signage designed for facility guests.At most organizations multi-lingual signage supported with images, possibly with product samples, reaps strong benefits for intended disposition. In general, signage placed at eye level is most effective.The following recycling bin best practices are well proven:
Ga Tech recycling center
photo courtesy Ga Tech
NOTE: melted ice from fountain soft drinks and other beverages is a BIG contaminant in recycling streams where plastics & paper are together. To prevent water contamination, collect beverage containers separate from fiber. Where practical, include a disposable option for ice.In general, higher volume material generation resides in the operations back-of-the-house. Once the material flow is determined, allocate a convenient space to create recycling centers for collection and baling. Clearly label large containers for their respective item collection. In addition, determine a space to store bales until sufficient quantity is accumulated to warrant a hauler pick-up.
- Always place trash & recycling bins together.
- Use bins with holes that match the material collected.
- Place signage at eye level.
- Use material images to convey proper sorting.
- Strategically place recycling centers in high traffic areas.
Back-of-the-house bin & signageFor administrative offices, develop a program that involves active participation. Georgia Institute of Technology devised a three-bin desk system where the tiny black bin was designated for trash. While janitorial staff collects the recycling bin contents, the employee takes their trash to the closest copy room for landfill disposal. With this system, the employee is aware of the quantity, frequency and type of trash generated.It is important to monitor recycling programs. Contamination notices are issued for "mistakes" and clean material is recognized.Whether third party contracted or in-house, the janitorial staff is a critical program component. In general, janitorial staff are responsible for recycling | trash bins content disposal. Using WE Consciousness, it is imperative to educate, nurture and reward the staff to ensure proper disposition. If third party contracted, ensure recycling program parameters are included in the janitorial agreement upon renewal.Clever, creative signage infiltrated with humor is most effective!
Reward & Promote SuccessesAs stated previously, it is important Green Team participation is written into formal position responsibilities and incorporated into performance review procedures. Internal recognition of Green Team membership and responsibilities through employee newsletters, memorandums or other effective methods garners fellow associate respect for members.
Scott Lutocka with Piazza
Produce AwardsRegular recycling lunch 'n learn sessions substantiate management's program commitment. In addition, the sessions are excellent times for employees to share ideas for fine-tuning the existing practices. When ideas segue into waste reduction or increased material recycling, reward the associate with recognition along with financial incentives (if appropriate.)In addition to internal program promotion, share recycling tonnage and financial stats via press releases or other publicity vehicles. Encourage Green Team members to participate in local, regional and national conferences to educate on challenges, lessons learned and successes. Apply for certifications and other awards that recognize the organization as a community leader. Beyond a huge employee morale boost, success stories inspire others to embark on their own recycling journey.Most importantly:Take Baby Stepslots & lots of baby steps!
Recycling Success CasesTo validate recycling PROFIT centers are a feasible destination, Holly featured several USZWBC member programs.
Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech)
The "AMAZING Cindy Jackson"
photo courtesy of Ga TechThanks to the "AMAZING Cindy Jackson," Ga Tech never succumbed to single-stream recycling, despite immense pressure from their waste hauler and university management. Out of tremendous respect, Holly refers to her good friend as AMAZING in introductions and everyone agrees.In fiscal year 2016, Ga Tech earned $60,000 on recyclable sales including cardboard, metals, office paper, plastics, glass, pallets, aluminum, and other less common items. The $60,000 does not take into account the cost-savings achieved by reduced landfill hauling and tipping charges. Overall, in 2016 Ga Tech recycled 3.7 million pounds of material, including 743,000 pounds of food waste collected for compost.As mentioned in the Clear Program Communication & Training section, in 2012 Ga Tech augmented their award-winning program with administrative office desk side recycling.
Earth Friendly Products (EFP)
EFP employee gardenImpressive: EFP's five U.S. plants are ZWFC at the platinum level!!! Under the direction of EFP Vice-President of Sustainability & Education Nadereh Afsharmanesh, employees work within a zero waste culture supported by top management. The results are incredible!Using a hands-on approach, Nadereh nurtures the culture via monthly employee lunches with educational topics that extend beyond recycling to health, nutrition and joyful living. In the back of the Garden Grove, CA plant, EFP created a lovely garden area for employees to enjoy at lunch and during breaks. The garden is complete with fresh herbs, beautiful flowers and a living wall.Employees share their ideas for further waste reduction and there is evidence throughout the plant:
- Reused plastic jugs earmarked for toilet paper cardboard cores are on bathroom counter tops.
- Small bins for staples and pens, pencils & markers staged for upcycling are in the office supply area.
- Polystyrene packing peanuts are given to the local UPS Store for reuse.
TP core collection binEFP's zero waste commitment extends to their supply chain who must complete a sustainability checklist and explain any negative responses. Nadereh visits suppliers and educates them on how to set-up successful recycling systems.Amidst soft commodity markets in 2015, EFP's recycling program earned a $21,600 profit. From 2011 - 2015, EFP earned a cumulative $318,000 profit on their recycling program, including $205,000 in revenue and $113,000 in reduced hauling costs.Inside Supply Management's (ISM) October 2016 cover story, Full Circle: Supply management can play a key role in the circular economy, working with suppliers to eliminate waste and drive financial value, features EFP's impressive recycling program and supplier relationships. The ZWA Blog article, Zero waste moves from "best" to standard operating practices, includes an ISM article recap along with commentary.
Sierra Nevada Brewery (SNB)In November 2013 SNB was awarded the FIRST Platinum ZWFC facility! The associated audit revealed SNB reused, re-purposed or recycled 99.8% of discards from operations. Key to SNB's success is material source-separation of cardboard, shrink wrap, glass, cans, bottles, paper, plastics, batteries, light tubes, computers, construction debris, and wood.
SNB clean plastic ready for baling
photo courtesy of SNBSNB Sustainability Manager Cheri Chastain emphasizes "closing the loop" with the brewery, on-site pub and estate agriculture. In September 2010 SNB invested in a Hot Rot, a New Zealand in-vessel composting system, for the pub food waste and brewery organic by-products. In turn, the Hot Rot compost is used within the estate agriculture to grow food served in the pub and hops | barley for the brewery.At SNB the recycling program is a strong profit center. In 2015, SNB recycled 5.9 million pounds of various materials (without spent grain) and earned $416,900 net profit, consisting of $41,800 in revenue, $33,000 in program costs and $408,100 in avoided costs.Piazza Produce (PP)Gold ZWFC PP earned $288,000 in recycling center profits during the soft 2015 commodity markets. As a USZWBC Board Member (now a GBCI Zero Waste Advisory Council member), PP Facility Manager Scott Lutocka shares his recycling wisdom across the nation at conferences and beyond. A famous phrase from Scott's presentations:
“There’s Ca$h in Your Tra$h!” and “You don’t know what you don’t know (about the value in your waste stream)!”
According to Scott, several keys to creating a recycling PROFIT Center include:
Scott Lutocka at baler
From program inception in 2006 through 2016, PP experienced total recycling, compost, & waste diversion savings of $1.75 Million Dollars!To download Susan and Holly's comprehensive Recycling: The Business Case PPT presentations, visit the Ei Speaking Engagements page.
- Clean source-separation of material.
- Teamwork across company department boundaries.
- Close working relationships with recycling partners.
SNB clean cardboard bales
photo courtesy SNBWM complains they are losing money on their self-invented single-stream recycling and there is a recycling crisis. Yet industry pioneers prove recycling PROFIT centers continue to thrive amidst the soft commodity markets. As reinforced by the above examples, several keys to success are a top management commitment at a foundation level, employee engagement across department boundaries, and source-separated, clean material ready for sale.Though they may still have contracts with the big haulers for the small amount of remaining waste, the pioneers work with an array of local and regional companies to collect their material bales (or otherwise contained). It is important to note, at this juncture, the big haulers are NOT part of the recipe for profitable recycling programs.Article #2 in the A Recycling or Contamination Crisis, ends with same empowering paragraph as Article #1:It is time for the corporate community to exercise their power of consumer demand when it comes to materials management and resource recovery. Once industry leaders break the single-stream cycle, the big haulers will follow with crafting an alternative, effective system. Simple Economics 101 may prove the best pathway to fixing a broken recycling system riddled with contamination.