Southeast Green - Business depends on the environment and the environment depends on business

Zero Waste in ACTION

an Elemental Impact on-line magazine
  1. Urban Agriculture: vital on many fronts
    On a crisp early spring day, Elemental Impact orchestrated a tour of Atlanta's robust urban agriculture (ag) for Fulton County and EPA Region 4. The overt tour purpose was to introduce Valerie Rawls, Fulton County senior policy advisor to Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Eaves, and Kim Charick, EPA physical scientist in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Division, to the local farmers | non-profits operating farms.

    On a deeper level, the tour educated Valerie, Kim and Ei founder Holly Elmore on the urban ag systems in-place, their connectivity (or lack thereof), the far-reaching implications of urban farms beyond providing fresh, seasonal produce to impoverished neighborhoods, and the valuable role compost plays on the farms. 

    Valerie is charged with crafting and executing a sustainable community development plan for Fulton County, the largest county in Georgia including downtown Atlanta. Urban agriculture, community gardens and food waste composting are integral to the plan as well as addressing the penal system (re-entry | recidivism) and the homeless population.

    Greenhouse @ Good Samaritan w/
    compost pile in foreground
    The Ei | EPA close working relationship is grounded in the 2009 Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launch where Stan Meiburg, the Acting Regional EPA Director, opened the program announcement press conference. More recently Ei is a sub-grantee under the EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte Grant to GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition

    The ZWA Blog article Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte introduces the grant; the Charlotte: A Land of Opportunities is an overview of the empowering February Charlotte Grant Team visit.

    Creating a solid, local composting infrastructure for food waste generated in homes and commercial foodservice operations is a strong EPA focus. Each farm visited had active compost piles and mentioned they could always use more compost for their soil. 

    On-farm or community garden compost is limited to produce, egg shells and farm debris. Proteins & fats are not permitted since pile temperatures may not kill pathogens.The potential varmint attraction from proteins is an issue in urban environments.

    Boyd at the Good
    Samaritan compost bins
    Pursuant to state regulations, commercial composting operations are required to reach specified temperatures for designated time frames to ensure pathogens are killed. Thus, the general rule for commercial composting: if it once lived, it can compost - relates to sea life, animals (including road kill), birds, reptiles and vegetation.

    While the EPA focus is on expanding food waste destination options, Ei is intent on creating strong end markets for compost. Urban ag is a developing end market as the farms work to rebuild the often abused soils. In addition, Department of Transportation road maintenance and Parks & Recreation erosion control represent two government end markets.

    Note sediment is the #1 water pollutant source; the U.S. spends approximately $44 billion dollars per year to clean top soil out of waterways. Healthy, well-structured soil with solid plant root systems, does not as easily run-off into waterways or blow away in storms. Compost is food for the soil's microbial community and key to rebuilding healthy soils. Thus, the government will save significant funds via a commitment to soil rebuilding.

    By identifying valuable compost end markets, many of the challenges with food waste composting destinations will dissipate due to simple supply | demand economics. It is important for city, county and state government agencies to "demand" compost for their operations and work with their counterparts in the permit | regulatory division on resolving the current lack of supply.

    With established deeper intentions, the group set out on a fun day touring urban ag, learning from the experts and making notes for future action points. Boyd Leake with Community Environmental joined the group and shared his vast wisdom from operating the Georgia State Prison recycling and composting programs for 18 years.

    Chris at Good
    Samaritan Farm
    First on the tour agenda was The Good Samaritan Farm operated by the Southeastern Horticultural Society (SHS) on a one-acre plot behind the Good Samaritan Health Center founded by Dr. Bill Warren. Part of Dr. Warren's vision was to create a FoodRx program by “prescribing” a farm share to patients with identified nutrition needs. The intent is to implement the FoodRx program with the 2015 farming season. Farmer Chris Theal, a SHS employee, runs the Good Samaritan Farm including its volunteer and educational events.

    Upon arrival, SHS Executive Director Caroline Leake educated on the SHS history and their urban farm projects. With roots dating back to mid-1930's, the SHS predecessor organization produced the original Atlanta Flower Show later evolving into the Southeast Flower Show. In 2008, the SHS was born out of the Southeast Flower Show as a non-profit planning to promote the knowledge, art and enjoyment of horticulture throughout the Southeastern U.S.

    Launched in 2010, the SHS Learning Gardens & Farms serve as outdoor classrooms that advocate environmental literacy. These classrooms promote healthy lifestyles through organic gardening and farming and teach people in local communities about good nutrition. Along with providing professional development for educators, the classrooms introduce teens and young adults to green jobs and careers in the environmental sector, and serve as locations to teach current sustainable techniques.

    In addition to the Good Samaritan Farm, SHS currently partners with the following gardens | farms:
    Next on the tour agenda was a visit to Urban Fresh, a community garden supported by the SHS. Located in a challenging area of town, Urban Fresh is a creative avenue to bring community together through gardening. Beyond the fresh food produced, camaraderie and self-esteem rebuilding are several of Urban Fresh's contributions to the community.

    Urban Fresh Community Garden
    Originally, Urban Fresh re-purposed plastic milk crates for their garden "plots."  Though effective, the system limited the type and quantity of produce planted. With the SHS's assistance, a new raised bed program is gearing up for its first resident gardeners. Several of the raised beds are higher for elder folks with challenges bending over. 

    In the next weeks a gravity-fed water catchment system is scheduled for installation. Once operational, the water catchment system will make Urban Fresh water self-sustaining, using no city or well water.

    Powerful mural on Urban Fresh
    back building
    Alejandro Delgado property owner & manager is on a mission with a vision for the run-down, closed apartment complex Urban Fresh uses for its garden beds. Though the buildings appear dilapidated, Alex confirms the structure is solid for rebuilding back into a vibrant community for elderly veterans and others outcast from society's mainstream. The back side of several buildings are the backdrop for amazing murals holding the promise of Alex's vision.

    Leaving Atlanta's Westide, the group converged on Truly Living Well (TLW), Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, where urban ag icon Rashid Nuri, TLW CEO & President and former Clinton Advisor on Agriculture, spent time educating the group. Per the website, TLW mission is:
    Natural urban agriculture combines the vitality of city life with the benefits of being close to nature, creating communities that are TRULY LIVING WELL.
    • We grow Food
    • We grow Community 
    • We grow People 
    TLW is truly an urban farm!
    In addition to growing abundant food within the historic Sweet Auburn district, Rashid is committed to education, including potential new farmers, enthusiastic citizens and community leaders. In addition to a robust raised bed farm, the TLW Wheat Street Gardens visited by the group is a gathering site for workshops, programs, tours and events geared towards sharing the community benefits of urban ag.

    At the Plastic GYRE Symposium hosted at the Center for Disease Control & Prevention last month, Rashid gave a passionate, empowering talk on the role urban agriculture plays in social justice. In his talk Rashid dispelled the term "food desert" as the residents are no farther from stores with healthy food than affluent neighborhoods; these individuals lack the means to travel to the stores. In addition to its direct health benefits, Rashid linked food grown within an urban environment to significantly reduced plastic packaging. 

    The ZWA Blog article, The Plastic GYRE Symposium, Artists, Scientists, Activists Respond, is an overview of the empowering event and features Rashid's session.

    Following a lovely lunch at the close-by Sweet Auburn Curb Market, the group traveled to their final destination, Metro Atlanta Urban Farm (MAUF), located on Main Street in College Park near the Atlanta Airport. MAUF CEO Bobby greeted the group and hosted an excellent walking tour of the five-acre farm. Per the website, the MAUF Vision | Mission are as follows:

    At the Metro Atlanta Urban Farm, our vision is to build strong and healthy communities through sustainable urban agriculture.

    The Mission of The Metro Atlanta Urban Farm is to reduce barriers to Metro Atlanta healthy living in urban communities by encouraging, promoting and supporting health education and sustainable high-quality low-cost agricultural production through gardening and farming training.

    MAUF five-acre farm
    In addition to the commercial farm, MAUF includes community garden plots offered to local residents for $10 per month. Gardeners may grow any legal crops yet are required to adhere to organic-style farming methods. MAUF staff is available for assistance upon request.

    Holly and Bobby know each from the early ZWZ days when Bobby assisted ZWZ Participants create on-site chef's gardens. At the time, Bobby served as the Fulton & Dekalb County ag extension agent, a position he held for nearly 30 years.

    Common themes emerged at each urban farm visit:
    • Community education on the invaluable role urban plays in healthy, vibrant communities.
    • Central gathering place for community events including volunteer programs.
    • Compost is integral to farming operations; each farm visited had an active compost pile used to rebuild and maintain the farm soil.
    With many new friends made, the group departed enthusiastic to embark on the tours' deeper intentions. A next step is a tour of a closed metro Atlanta government facility that may serve as an indoor food waste composting facility along with an on-site garden or farm, depending on available space.

    A farewell group shot @ MAUF
    The Ei FB album, 04-03-15 Atlanta Urban Ag Tours, is a pictorial recap of the monumental day.

    Rebuilding soils, urban and rural, is critical to building a secure food system based on local agriculture with community engagement. The current soils cannot sustain food production levels to feed the world's growing population. In addition, food grown is often void of necessary nutrients due to the soil's depleted state. A food crisis is on the brink of an explosion.

    As stated above, compost is food for the soil's microbial community and key to rebuilding soils to a healthy condition. Food waste collection for compost is essential to soil rebuilding yet there are often no local composting destinations. Simple economic principals of supply | demand may prove the equalizer that breaks through destination challenges.

    On the surface the urban ag tours were a fun day spent with new and long-time friends. Yet the undercurrent of imperative action was strong and it was thrilling to realize urban ag's vital role on fronts beyond food security and community engagement.
  2. Stellar conference program highlights the "Stars of Zero Waste"
    LASanitation logo resizedOn May 5 - 7, 2015 sustainability leaders from across industry boundaries will converge on the City of Los Angeles (LA) for the Fourth Annual National U.S Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) Conference,The Stars of Zero Waste. Announced at the 2014 USZWBC Conference hosted in Atlanta, the 2015 star-studded event is staged for grandeur. 

    In December, the ZWA Blog article, 2015 Zero Waste Conference: A Star-Studded Event, announced the conference along with the first-day prominent keynote speakers. LA chief sustainability officer Matt Peterson welcomes attendees to his fine city as the 2015 USZWBC Conference opening keynote speaker. Prior to joining LA, Matt was co-founder & president of Global Green USA for 19+ years. During Matt's Global Green tenure, the Coalition of Resource Recovery was launched first in New York City and later expanded to a national platform.

    Matt Peterson
    The timing is perfect for the Title Sponsor LA Sanitation to host the 2015 UZWBC Conference. With the Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan under development with a stated 90% zero waste commitment by 2030, LA is transitioning to a new waste and recycling system for all businesses and large apartment complexes. The goals of the new system - a franchise program called Zero Waste LA - include:
    • Higher Recycling (90% diversion from landfills by 2025) 
    • Fair Customer Rates 
    • Reduced Street Impacts & Cleaner Air
    • Superior Customer Service
    Following Matt's keynote presentation, LA director Infrastructure Services Greg Good moderates the Discover the Stars of Zero Waste LA plenary panel of LA key stakeholders. Panelists include: Enrique Zaldivar, LA Bureau of Sanitation director, David Piper, LA Unified School District director and Timothy Eng, Kaiser Permanente project manager.

    Sue giving welcoming remarks
    at 2014 conference
    Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO) co-founder, shares his company's pioneer role in environmentally sound operating policies as the first-day lunch keynote. BAMCO provides foodservice to corporations, universities, and museums in 32 states. Complementing its longstanding food-waste reduction efforts, BAMCO was an early partner of the Food Recovery Network and has three dozen cafés Food Recovery Certified.

    On the second conference day Sue Beets, USZWBC board president & SBM Management Services corporate sustainability manager, gives opening remarks. Eric Lombardi - EcoCycle International executive director - and Recycle Across America (RAA) executive director Michelle "Mitch" Hedlund follow as morning keynote co-presenters. With his 20+ year tenure at the helm of EcoCycle, Eric is an authority on creating comprehensive community-based programs and is often a keynote speaker and consultant on the social and technical aspects of creating a “Zero Waste - Or Darn Near” society. 

    Using her over 20 years of experience in marketing, communications and branding, serving Fortune 500 companies as well as small to mid-sized companies, Mitch founded RAA in 2010. RAA produces standardized recycling labels as a major step in alleviating consumer confusion, a leading cause of contamination in public and corporate facilities.  

    Charles in the midst of his keynote
    presentation at The GYRE Symposium
    A keynote discussion, International Discussion on Zero Waste, officially closes the conference's stellar program. Eric is joined by Richard (Rick) Anthony of Richard Anthony Associates, a consulting firm that focuses on Zero Waste planning, and Captain Charles Moore, Algalita Marine Research founder and discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In late March, Charles was the closing keynote presenter at The Plastic GYRE Symposium hosted in Atlanta. The ZWA Blog article, Plastic GYRE Symposium: Artists, Scientists and Activists Respond, gives an overview of Charles' empowering presentation.

    Source reduction and reuse of materials is at the foundation of successful zero waste programs. Though easy via a hindsight lens, determining how to reduce and reuse can be challenging, especially when the value chain is involved. Reuse Institute CEO MaryEllen Etienne moderates the Exploring Source Reduction and Reuse plenary panel. A powerhouse team from The Walt Disney Company, Hewlett Packard and IFCO share their respective journeys to successful programs.

    A barrier to achieving zero waste often revolves around hard-to-recycle items, especially if there is limited local infrastructure available. Challenging items include food waste, many types of packaging, unique material used within operations to name a few. Tom Wright of Sustainable Bizness moderates the Hard to Recycle Packaging plenary panel. Associates from the Carton Council, Upstream and Recycling Analytics & Titus MRF Services share their expertise on the panel.

    Scott with his certification &
    award at the 2014 conference
    Continuing on the hard-to-recycle theme is the Solutions for Organics Diversion breakout session moderated by Rick Anthony. Associates from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and EPA Region 5 join Piazza Produce facilities manager Scott Lutocka on the panel to present on overcoming challenges with one of the largest materials in waste streams nationwide. Achieving Gold USZWBC Facility Certification in 2014, Scott has solid experience in creative approaches to solutions for food waste generated at Piazza's produce distribution center and their foodservice customer operations.

    In response to industry requests for zero waste standardization and third party validation, the USZWBC launched the Zero Waste Businss Certification Program (ZWBCP) in March 2013. As the first zero waste certification program in the nation, the ZWBCP establishes protocol and defines parameters for zero waste claims. For example, incineration is often included in the term "landfill diversion" yet is specifically NOT a zero waste material destination within the ZWBCP.  

    The ZWA Blog article, Third Party Certification Edges Industry Towards a Zero Waste Economy, introduces the ZWBCP and honors the pioneers who earned the first certifications.

    Ann Thomas, Jared Blumenfeld and Lisa Hanf
    Cherie receiving the EPA 2010
    Green Business of the Year Award
    photo courtesy of EPA
    On the second day, Sierra Nevada sustainability manager Cheri Chastain moderates the USZWBC Certification panel. As the first Platinum Zero Waste Certified business, Sierra Nevada is an industry leader and Cherie is perfect to moderate the panel. Associates from Disneyland Resorts, Fetzer Vineyards and Raytheon Company present on their certification experiences and accomplishments.

    As zero waste moves from an emerging to a maturing industry, strong leadership is essential to ensure integrity is maintained. Albertsons|Vons manager refuse & recycling Curt Smith moderates the Leadership: Directing the Zero Waste Journey during the second day afternoon sessions. Executives from Kellogg Garden Products, Toyota Motor Sales and Ingersoll Rand share their role in guiding standard industry practices development.

    Intertwined within plenary keynotes and panels are a plethora of breakout sessions on an array of topics. Elemental Impact founder Holly Elmore moderates two breakout sessions: Source-Separation Maximizes Material Value and Zero Waste at Multi-Tenant Properties.

    Material source-separation at the generation site is essential to Recycling Integrity – maintaining maximum material value with minimal energy expended - and creating recycling profit centers. Industry veterans Tim Trefzer, Georgia World Congress Center Authority director of sustainability, Rick Lombardo, Natur-Tec director of business development - North America, and Nadereh Afsharmanesh, Earth Friendly Products director of sustainability, share how source-separation creates a scenario where ALL win: the environment, the community AND the corporate bottom line.

    Tim showing mixed paper that
    may be easily baled separately
    Challenges abound for zero waste programs at multi-tenant facilities, many grounded in tenant and service provider contract provisions. The ZWA Blog article, Contract provisions require necessary team work for zero waste success, introduces the role contract provisions play in creating a scenario conducive to successful zero waste programs. 

    The panel team includes three stakeholders in multi-tenant facilities: the owner | property manager, Keter Environmental Services chief operating officer Matt Hupp, service provider, SBM corporate sustainability manager Sue Beets, and legal counsel, Ei general counsel & partner at Thompson Hine Greg Chafee. 

    The Making Zero Waste Happen: Changing Behavior for Total Participation panel addresses a key component in zero waste programs: total participation from top management to the frontline employees. USZWBC zero waste associate Emily DeCremer moderates a prominent panel including associates from Frontline Industrial Consulting, REV and Action Research. Grounded in his leadership role bringing sixteen sites to “Mohawk Certified Zero Waste to Landfill, Frontline president KB Kleckner understands 99% of the time, financial benefits and sustainability benefits are mutually inclusive. For strong top management buy-in, the financial benefits of zero waste programs must be proven.

    The Ladies of Zero Waste:
    Emily & Stephanie at 2014 conference
    Continuing the Know Your Trash, up close & personal theme introduced at the 2013 USZWBC Conference by Scott Stephenson of Mitsubishi Electric America, the Getting Down and Dirty: A practical guide to Zero Waste audits panel educates on why waste audits are a critical step to zero waste success. Moderated by SBM associate sustainability manager Randy VanWinkle, panelists from Sierra Nevada, Go2Zero Strategies and Sandia National Laboratory share their experiences digging through their dumpsters.

    Collaboration is always a key ingredient for success. The Complement your Zero Waste Efforts with Additional Certifications panel, moderated by USZWBC vice-president Gary Liss, explores how the ZWBCP is complementary to other established sustainability certifications. U.S. Green Building Council, Cradle to Cradle and Nutiva associates share their expertise on the panel.

    Beyond the breakout sessions highlighted above, the conference offers a plethora of panels educating on a wide range of topics: importance of metrics, marketing zero waste success, role non-profits play to name a few. The USZWBC Conference Program page details the entire program including pre-conference activities.

    Infiltrated within the excellent program is ample networking time to meet fellow attendees | presenters, reunite with industry pals and visit the sponsor booths. Each conference day begins with a delicious breakfast buffet and the first day ends with a reception. A plated lunch is served each day in the plenary room. The conference is well-balanced with formal educational sessions and relaxed time.

    Bruce w/ 2014 Conference opening
    keynote Laura Turner Seydel
    For those who arrive a day early, there are substantial pre-conference activities including the morning Achieving Zero Waste at Colleges and Universities Workshop sponsored by CleanRiver Recycling Solutions. Within the program CleanRiver founder Bruce Buchan speaks on Zero Waste - The Three C's Approach. The ZWA Blog article, Evolution of the Three R's, introduces the Three C's - Culture, Communication, Collection, via a feature of Ricoh Electronics' presentation on the Five R's at the 2012 USZWBC Conference.

    Running concurrent in the morning is the Zero Waste 101 Workshop tailored for those embarking on the journey. The introductory workshop provides the basics for starting or evolving recycling programs. In the afternoon Loyola Marymount University Campus Sustainability, Comprehensive Recycling, Food Waste Diversion Tour is a walking tour of the impressive zero waste practices in action.

    An all-day ZWBA Scorecard Training 101 Course is intended for those interested in pursuing the professional Zero Waste Business Associate (ZWBA) Certification, though open to anyone interested in learning more about the ZWCP.

    The USZWBC Conference Program is designed for the seasoned zero waste veteran ready to evolve their program to next dimensions as well as the novice interested in learning how to create effective systems. In addition to the formal education, the industry connections are invaluable once the conference is a memory.

    The stars of zero waste shine bright in the conference program! Plan to attend the 2015 Conference confident that you will depart filled with zero waste wisdom, new industry friends and inspired to make a difference at your organization and beyond.
  3. Plastic GYRE Symposium: Artists, Scientists and Activists Respond
    On March 26 & 27 nationally renowned scientists, filmmakers, artists and activists converged on Atlanta for The Plastic GYRE Symposium: Artists, Scientists and Activists RespondHosted jointly by the Welch Foundation at Georgia State University (GSU), David J. Sencer Museum of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC), the Symposium was an effort to raise awareness and discourse on the global crisis of plastic pollution.

    Pamela Longobardi at podium
    Distinguished GSU Professor & Drifters Project founder Pamela Longobardi was the empowering force behind the Symposium. In June 2013, Pamela was Lead Artist in the Alaska Gyre Expedition, a project launched by the Alaska Sealife Center and the Anchorage Museum to assess the impact of debris washing onto Alaskan shores from the Pacific Ocean gyres.

    National Geographic (NG) adventure filmmaker, producer and director J.J. Kelly joined the gyre team to document the four-year in-the-making expedition. On August 21, 2013 the NG twenty-minute film GYRE: Creating Art from a Plastic Ocean was released on the monumental expedition.

    Subsequent to the expedition, Pamela worked collaboratively with Howard Ferren, the GYRE Project originator and Julie Decker, curator of the GYRE exhibition, to form the team of artists aboard the ship, who created art from the foraged plastic debris collected on the expedition. The subsequent exhibition, GYRE: The Plastic Ocean, which then expanded to scores of esteemed global artists working with plastic pollution, is on exhibit at the CDC Museum January 26 - June 19.

    When the CDC exhibit scheduled, Pamela spearheaded an amazing team to create The Plastic GYRE Symposium to coincide with the art exhibit. PPC co-founder, Dianna Cohen provided tremendous support on multiple levels for the empowering Symposium. In addition, Dianna's artwork is included in the GYRE: The Plastic Ocean exhibit.

    What is a gyre? Per Pam, "The Gyre is the scientific term for the ocean currents which now propel plastic pollution around the world." Wikipedia gives a more scientific gyre description:

    gyre in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currentsparticularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, which determine the circulation patterns from the wind curl (torque). The term gyre can be used to refer to any type of vortex in the air or the sea, even one that is man-made, but it is most commonly used in oceanography to refer to the major ocean systems. There are five most notable gyres:
    Scott Seydel at the podium
    The two-day Symposium included a stellar program that ran the gamut of educating on the horrific facts of the plastic pollution scenario to providing a good news blitz of positive action in-place to explaining the social justice (or injustice) surrounding the gyre & other plastic pollution impacts. Prominent industry experts traveled from across the nation to share their experience, research and call-to-action.

    Elemental Impact (Ei) Chair Scott Seydel presented on the Beyond Greenwash: Extended Producer Responsibility panel with a powerful, at times humorous, presentation that emphasized plastic's value in the global economy. Scott focused on the current recycling rates, end uses for the various plastics and how states with bottle bills enjoy significantly higher recycling rates.

    In his presentation on the Greenwash panel, John Lanier - the Ray C. Anderson Foundation director - encouraged the audience to move beyond sustainability and aspire to be restorative. Using examples from Interface's exemplary history to more recent endeavors, including a pilot where nets from a small Philippines fishing village were cleaned, processed and woven into new carpet tiles, John substantiated his impactful point. Note John's grandfather Ray Anderson founded Interface, the world's largest designer and maker of carpet tile, and was a leading pioneer in sustainable | restorative business practices.

    Laura Turner Seydel, Scott Seydel
    & Dianna Cohen between sessions
    Executive Director of Data & Strategy for the Algiers Charter School Association in New Orleans, LA Jane Patton gave an excellent presentation on the implications of plastics in school systems, especially in foodservice programs.  

    As the largest chartered school district in the state, Algiers serves meals to 4500 children twice per day, five days per week, 36 weeks per year and uses 1.6 million polystyrene trays and plastic forks per year. Jane emphasized her stats are from only one school district in the nation - the total polystyrene | plastic usage in schools is astronomical. 

    In her session, Jane spoke of the narrow perception related to "cost."  Administrators tend to focus on product cost without considering hard cost-savings of waste hauling reduction and soft costs associated with the health impact from plastic molecules infiltrating food served to students.

    The first day formal program finished with a screening of the NG film referred to above.

    Liz York announcing the
    CDC water-savings
    On the second day, the Symposium began with a Sustainability Call to Action by Pam and Dianna, followed by a press junket and a GYRE: The Plastic Ocean exhibition viewing. CDC Museum curator Louise Shaw did a superb job orchestrating the exhibit logistics and installation.

    CDC Associate Director for Quality and Sustainability Liz York welcomed attendees to the CDC as the start to the afternoon formal program. In her remarks, Liz announced the CDC reduced water consumption by 300% of the prior current average monthly usage - impressive!

    GreenLaw executive director Stephanie Benfield was slated to moderate the Social Justice panel. With perfect timing Stephanie was at the Capitol to lobbying against the "ban the ban" Georgia House Bill up for vote - the bill was defeated during the panel! Thanks to up-to-the-second updates, Dianna announced the the bill defeat within a minute of the vote. The audience was elated and gave a standing ovation.

    Environmental Working Group executive director Heather White stepped forward as the Social Justice panel moderator and infiltrated her presentation within commentary. Heather brought the plastic pollution scenario close to home. Research of toxins in new born babies was released as Heather embraced her first child - the stark reality propelled Heather into action, eventually leading to her current prestigious position.

    Passionate, PPC co-founder Lisa Boyle presented on the results of living in a throw-away society; cheap products are designed for one-time use and expensive products are designed for replacement. Lisa produced the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, Plastic Pollution and wrote the introduction. Several of the Symposium presenters contributed to the impressive documentation on plastic pollution from an environmental law perspective.

    Rashid Nuri at podium
    Former Clinton Advisor on Agriculture Rashid Nuri of Truly Living Well gave a passionate, empowering talk on the role urban agriculture plays in social justice and was the final panelist. In his talk Rashid dispelled the term "food desert" as the residents are no farther from stores with healthy food than affluent neighborhoods; these individuals lack the means to travel to the stores. In addition to its direct health benefits, Rashid linked food grown within an urban environment to significantly reduced plastic packaging.

    The Symposium's formal program closed with an eye-opening keynote presentation by Captain Charles Moore, Algalita Marine Research founder and discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Charles' presentation was grounded in a video documenting his research over the years; the graphic visuals depicted the magnitude of the plastic pollution within the oceans along with its implications.

    According to Charles, the tremendous plastic pollution volumes are beyond current capabilities for a massive clean-up. Charles recommends a focus on source reduction to prevent further build-up of the already out-of-control scenario. Per the Algalita website, the plastic reality is:

    • 280 million tons of plastic is produced around the world annually. An estimated 5.25 trillion plastic pieces weighing 268,940 tons pollute the global ocean.
    • That's at least 700 pieces for every living human being on the planet, or the equivalent to the weight of 24 billion empty single-use water bottles.
    • To date, reports show that at least 136 marine species have been impacted by plastic entanglement, and 177 marine species have ingested plastic.

    Beyond the overwhelming plastic pollution impact visuals, a serious threat to food safety is the micro-plastics in the flesh of sea life harvested for human consumption. Larger plastics often kill sea life through blockages in the digestive tract, entanglement and starvation. Micro-plastics consumed may fare through the digestive process into the species' flesh & other edible areas.

    The audience gives Charles Moore
    a standing ovation
    A seasoned, effective speaker Charles ended his somber, reality-based presentation on a high note with a lighthearted video of children respecting the earth and sharing the source-reduction message with a cheerful voice. The crowd responded with a standing ovation for Charles' powerful keynote presentation. The Symposium closed with a lovely reception and exhibition viewing.

    For a Symposium pictorial recap from Ei's perspective, visit the Ei FB album, The Plastic GYRE Symposium.

    The plastic pollution cannot be ignored and its impact extends beyond the oceans to our interior waterways and soils. Though solutions are not yet evident, immediate efforts to stop the tremendous annual added accumulation are a must for human and other species survival. 

    Collaborative effort among individuals, governments, research institutes, non-profits and private enterprise with a common goal of first reducing, later eliminating, plastic pollution is necessary. Enlightened solutions will emerge for what seems an insurmountable scenario. It is time to bring the possible out of the impossible! 


    The below lists links for the Symposium's first-day sessions at GSU:

  4. Remember: If it was easy, it would already be done!
    single-stream recycling delivered
    to a MRF for separation
    Within Elemental Impact's (Ei) Recycling Refinement platform a Total Materials Management Approach (TMMA) - evaluating the entire waste | recycling stream as one revenue / cost center - is used. The stated objective is true zero waste with a strong focus on ultimate material destination and the remaining "trash" within the stream. Materials with solid end markets (e.g. aluminum, mixed paper, certain plastics) subsidize more challenging streams generated in operations.
    Until recently zero waste measurement was quantified as diversion rates from the landfill without final destination consideration. Known for high levels of contamination, single-stream recycling - often the only recycling option available for the corporate community - results in a high percentage of recyclable items landfill destined. Thus, “true recycling rates” are frequently inflated with single-stream recycling programs.
    Note effective single-stream MRF – material recovery facilities – separation is limited by the contamination in the delivered material. Published reports substantiate curbside single-recycling programs often contain significant contaminates, which may then pollute the corporate recycling delivered to the MRF.

    First source-separated aluminum
    bale at Georgia Dome
    In September 2013, the ZWA Blog article, If it was easy, it would already be done, announced the  plastic film recycling template that segued into the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template (S-SMRT). With the Georgia Dome | Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), the Sustainable Food Court Initiative - Event Pilot, stepping forward as the template Lead Pioneer, Atlanta was designated for the city-wide S-SMRT pilot. 

    S-SMRT targets moderate material generators whose current recycling option is single-stream recycling. 

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

    Contamination is a Mistake!

    Andrew Lantz loading
    bales onto box truck
    The ZWA Blog article, Total Materials Management Approach, gives an in-depth overview of the approach along with a S-SMRT update as of the early December publication. 

    On December 17 the S-SMRT team arrived at the Ga Dome loading dock with an empty box truck to collect the baled aluminum and plastic PET bottles generated during the 2014 Falcons Season. Destination: the Atlanta Penitentiary, the S-SMRT recycling center, to re-bale the material into standard-sized bales.

    The trial run was seamless as the UNICOR - federal prison system employment arm - managers along with inmates greeted the team with enthusiasm. Pallets were weighed empty and then weighed again loaded with material bales; several individual mini-bales were weighed to estimate an average. Next the material was transported for compaction into standard-sized bales.

    loosely compacted first standard
    sized bale 
    At the trial, the only significant challenge was the Penitentiary baler produced a loosely compacted aluminum bale that lost bottles as moved and was approximately 50 pounds underweight. Compaction issues are easily remedied via: 1> adjusting the machine compaction setting, 2> repairing the machine or final remedy 3> purchasing a new machine. It was rewarding to know the main challenge was one with an easy solution.

    Other template challenges include shifts in Ei Partner staff and | or business model. Beyond Ei Partner associates flowing with empowering career choices, the designated hauler shifted their business model and will no longer serve at the template's core. Though a shock, the simplistic genius of S-SMRT is the hauler role merely requires a box truck, qualified drivers and a relationship grounded in trust with hauler management.

    At the Georgia Dome, labor sources and division of time to source-separate material proved a challenge during the first pilot year. Though frustrating, the entire S-SMRT Team is committed to long-term success. Pioneers know immediate disappointments are necessary to create a flexible foundation built to endure many renditions while evolving into a proven format.

    Tim shows the tremendous mixed
    paper volume potential 
    In the first year, source-separation was limited to aluminum and PET plastic bottles. Next year the intent is to add the significant amount of mixed paper from event programs, marketing material and other sources. In addition, GWCC director of sustainability Tim Trefzer intends to explore including GWCC convention and event material in the source-separation process. As the nation's fourth largest convention center, evolving material management practices is a monumental task, one with significant impact.

    By the Atlanta Falcons 2015 Season at the Georgia Dome the goal is to recruit additional Lead Pioneers within the downtown convention district. Route density is key for the hauler's financial success. 

    The Ei FB album, Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template, building a city-wide network, is a pictorial recap of the template from its plastic film recycling inception to current work-in-progress.

    Simplicity is the common thread throughout the S-SMRT. New operating practices are low tech in nature with a mini-baler in general the only necessary purchase. Additional labor is required to source-separate and bale material on-site; thus, "green jobs" are created with the overall bottom line improved - a multiple win!

    Though simple, the S-SMRT is NOT easy. Yet Remember: If it was easy, it would already be done!
  5. Charlotte: A Land of Opportunties
    A proactive city, Charlotte stands strong as a sustainability leader, especially in waste reduction. As Mecklenburg County Government (MCG) environmental manager, waste reduction, Laurette Hall is at the helm of Charlotte recycling successes; Laurette is a visionary who quietly, effectively implements her recycling plan for the county while forging lasting relationships.

    CMS food waste collection for
    compost effective system
    The City of Charlotte is within Mecklenburg County; the city and county work closely together on community services, including materials management. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) - 164 schools and 145,000 enrolled students - is a prime example of the city and county working in unison for citizen benefit.

    Dating back to 2011, Elemental Impact developed strong Charlotte relationships. Jake Wilson, MCG senior environmental manager, was named the February 2011 IMPACTOR of the month and honored in The IMPACT Blog article, A Man of Controversy, A Man of Action.

    Concord Mills, a Simon mall in metro Charlotte, serves as the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Shopping Mall Pilot and was the catalyst for Elemental Impact's work in the Charlotte area. Ei Partner HMSHost, Concord Mills food court concessionaire and the Charlotte Douglas International Airport foodservice operator, was integral to Ei's solid sustainability foundation in Charlotte.

    one of the first CM donation collections
    photo courtesy of HMSHost
    Beginning in 2011, the SFCI Team worked closely with HMSHost and Simon on creating back-of-the-house (BOH) food waste collection for compost, food donation and plastic film recycling programs at Concord Mills. The ZWA Blog article, ACTION: Theme for the SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, is an overview of the programs.

    When Charlotte hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the city | county used the convention as an opportunity to expand existing recycling practices for the metro area. Facilities such as the Charlotte Convention Center (CCC) and the Carolina Panthers Stadium implemented food waste collection for compost as the city prepared for the convention. BOH food waste collection is now standard operating practice at the facilities.

    In partnership with Charlotte-based ReCommunity Recycling, festive, well-designed recycling containers were strategically placed throughout the downtown corridor. Keeping with recycling best practices, each bin is paired with a trash container. ReCommunity operates the county-owned MRF - materials recovery facility for single-stream recycling.

    Charlotte successes were highlighted at the 2012 Charlotte Ei Partner Tours hosted by Simon | HMSHost. Laurette and Jake attended the first day of presentations and tours of Concord Mills' impressive recycling programs. The IMPACT Blog article, Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, is a tours overview.

    downtown recycling bin
    In fall 2013 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 funded a Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC Grant to GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). To maximize its impact, the grant was extended for an additional year along with funding. Ei is a grant sub-grantee. The ZWA Blog article, Scaling up Composting in Charlotte, NC, details the grant goal, objectives and tasks along with listing partners | sub-grantees.

    "Scaling Up" was used in the grant name as Charlotte has a solid food waste composting program compliments of Earth Farms, a state-permitted facility. The grant intends to serve as a catalyst to increase food waste collection for compost throughout the metro Charlotte area. The Ei FB album, Ei Partner Tours - Day 2, recounts an Earth Farms tour.

    Earth Week 2014 marked the first official EPA Grant Team visit to the Queen City for three action-packed days. With a plethora of back-to-back meetings and tours scheduled, the team recruited participants for the EPA Grant program. The ZWA Blog article, Charlotte Focuses on Food Waste with EPA Support, is an overview of the monumental visit.

    Knights Stadium
    The Ei Team returned to Charlotte in July and overlapped the grant with Ei initiatives. From Ei's perspective, the trip was exploratory in nature to determine if the tremendous Ei | Charlotte | MCG synergies warranted investment in formal programs, partnerships and | or other initiatives. The Charlotte Knights hosted a meeting at their stadium to introduce Ei initiatives and the EPA Grant.

    During the visit, SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - was formed to support the Grant and other Ei work. The ZWA Blog article, Ei Charlotte Visit: Busy, Productive & Fun!, is a recap of the powerful visit.

    Validating the strong Ei | MCG relationship, Laurette attended the November 2014 Annual Ei Partner Meeting in Atlanta. Laurette presented on the extensive synergies & potentials and learned about Ei initiatives beyond Charlotte and materials management. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution, gives an overview of the meeting along with the history of events that built the substantial foundation in-place.

    The Grant | Ei Team converged on Charlotte the week of February 2 for a series of meetings and tours at the major sports facilities, the convention center and local schools. SPC senior manager Anne Bedarf was supported in meetings with SMAT members: Sarah Martell of Innovia Films, Rick Lombardo of NaturBag, Tim Goodman of NatureWorks, and Sarah Martinez of Eco-Products.

    Laurette, Eric & Kim after the
    City of Charlotte meeting
    For the February 2015 Charlotte visit, Ei founder Holly Elmore and Kim Charick of the EPA arrived a day early for Water Use | Toxicity and other Ei-specific meetings. Rob Phocas, City of Charlotte energy & sustainability manager, was first on the meeting itinerary. Though focused on Airborne Kitchen Grease, a proactive approach to a costly cooking by-product, the meeting was a perfect opportunity to update Rob on the EPA Grant status.

    JR Stewart of Filtrexx treated Ei to a lovely lunch at McCormick & Schmick's downtown location to educate on the Garden Soxx, perfect for community & school gardens. With the strong food waste collection for composting at CMS, the Garden Soxx may prove useful as an educational tool to directly connect food waste to compost to garden produce.

    A lovely dinner at Rooster's downtown location hosted by Eric & Betsy Dyer, local Grease Lock Filter distributors, was a perfect segue into the EPA Grant meetings the following morning.

    The Knights were first on the meeting itinerary as a follow-up to the July meeting and subsequent conference calls. After an overview session including General Manager Erik Hassy and Executive Chef Joseph Marx of Ovations, the stadiums foodservice operator, Stadium Director of Operations Mark McKinnon led the group on a BOH tour to better understand the physical parameters for recycling logistics. Grant partners Sandra Clinton of UNC Charlotte and Jim Lanier with Earth Farms joined the Knights meeting. As the food waste hauler | destination, Jim attended most of the meetings.

    Knights meeting group photo
    The loading dock included ample space for food waste collection and source-separation of high value recyclable material. It was an inspiring visit and rewarding to witness the zero waste "team spirit" evident between stadium facilities and foodservice operations. With plenty of action points documented, the group said farewell to new friends.

    Next on the day's itinerary was an introductory meeting with the CCC. As mentioned above, the CCC is a veteran to BOH food waste collection for composting and eager to take their program to next dimensions. CCC Food Services Operations Manager Steve Gorham hosted the meeting with CCC Assistant Director of Facility Services Roger Rochelle and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) Procurement Manager Jeff Doerr attending.

    CCC meeting
    A primary discussion point was the role legal provisions play in zero waste success, whether with foodservice subcontractors or waste | recycling haulers. The ZWA Blog article, Contract provisions require team work necessary for zero waste success, documents the important role contract provisions play in creating an effective stage for food waste collection and source-separated material recycling.

    Continuing with the common theme of saying farewell to new friends, the group collected business cards with promises of follow-up within an array of action points and information requested.

    The final meeting of the day was at the Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, a NC charter school for the highly gifted scholar. Without a formal lunch program, the academy has unique challenges | opportunities not experienced by CMS-operated schools. With strong parental involvement, the school may excel in amazing recycling efforts with parent | student consciousness shifts.

    Common within Ei travels, dinners serve as a relaxed venue to recap the powerful activities along with strategies on how to maximize potentials. The King's Kitchen was the perfect venue for dinner: 100% of proceeds are donated to the homeless and competent staff are those often considered "unemployable."

    The final day began with a productive meeting and tour of the Charlotte Hornets Arena hosted by Andrew Chisholm, manager of arena & event services. With Mike Wann, Levy Restaurants (Levy) assistant director of operations,and Bill Becker, CRVA arena director of support services, in attendance, the necessary trilogy - stadium management, facilities management and foodservice operations - were present at the meeting.

    After introductions and grant overview, the group toured the stadium front and BOH operations. It was exciting to witness the potential for refining the arena's current recycling practices, especially food waste collection for compost. Levy is the foodservice operator for Ei Supporter Georgia World Congress Center Authority, a founding Zero Waste Zones participant. A Levy manager recently transferred from the Georgia Dome to the arena; the Dome is the SFCI Event Venue Pilot with solid food waste donation and collection for compost practices.

    Added bonus: a standard size baler is located near the waste | recycling loading dock area. It is nice to know equipment is in-place to source-separate cardboard, aluminum and other valuable material.

    Kim w/ compost garden sign
    During lunch, the team visited the Chantilly Montessori School as an example of the CMS impressive food waste collection for compost program. It was rewarding to witness the four and five year old children learn to sort their food and pour liquid from the beverage carton prior to recycling.The committed staff is integral to the school's success.

    In addition, the school has a compost area complete with a tumbler, rain barrel collection, and raised bed gardens. Per the wooden sign, the NO to grass & weeds shows the school is careful to prevent weed seeds & pesticides | herbicides from contaminating the compost. The YES includes leaves, fruits & vegetables. 

    The final EPA Grant Team meeting was with the Carolina Panthers hosted by Scott Paul, director of stadium operations, and attended by Delaware North Executive Chef John Morey and Operations Manager Jeff Kelly. In addition to an established BOH food waste collection program, the Panthers have solid recycling practices where cardboard is baled on-site. Over the past season, the Panthers recycled a total of 76.63 tons of materials, including 25.56 tons of source-separated aluminum. The food waste program diverted an additional 6.65 tons of material from the landfill. IMPRESSIVE!

    Panther game-day tailgate recycling
    photo courtesy of Jake
    Jake oversees the Panther tailgate recycling program, a collaboration of many organizations | individuals: volunteers, City of Charlotte Solid Waste for game day collection, the Parking Lot Consortium for engaging the lot attendants, City Center Partners for their stewardship and media outreach, Bojangles sponsorship of bags & award gift cards, and ESPN 730 for sponsorship and support. The 2012 ZWA Blog article, Winning Panthers Recycling Season, recaps the collaboration necessary for a successful tailgate recycling program.

    The 2014 | 2015 season broke records with 45.35 tons recycled at the home games, a 23% increase over last season's 36.76 tons recycled. Ditto on IMPRESSIVE!

    At the Panthers' meeting, the focus was on Recycling Refinement, moving beyond landfill diversion, and how the Grant Team and SMAT may assist the stadium edge closer to zero waste. Front-of-the-house food waste collection, with first steps in the suites, was the meeting focal point. An action item is scheduling a call with industry leaders experienced in bringing a stadium to zero waste.

    SUCCESS: the Knights, Hornets, Panthers and the CCC gave a thumbs up on joining the grant program.  Anne will follow-up over the next weeks to complete the paperwork and discuss next steps. For a list of current Grant participants and to join the program, visit the SPC Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte website page.

    downtown Charlotte
    The Ei Team intends to return to Charlotte midsummer for follow-up meetings on the city-wide Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template (S-SMRT). Atlanta serves as the pilot city and Charlotte is a potential template replication pilot city. The ZWA Blog article, Total Materials Management Approach, gives an update on the pilot and explains the approach.

    As the S-SRMT took a side seat in the February meetings, the Grant will take the side seat in the summer meetings. The S-SRMT is an avenue for Ei to continue support to Grant participants beyond its expiration date.

    The Ei FB album, Charlotte Visit: EPA Grant & Beyond, is a pictorial recap of the excellent visit.

    After a team wrap-up, the group dispersed excited to segue the powerful discussions into action. Laurette summarized the scenario with perfection: Charlotte is a Land of Opportunities!
  6. Food Waste Recovery: build it and they will come?? ...

    In August 2012, the National Resources Defense Council released an Issue Paper, Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40% of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill, researched and written by Dana Gunders. The paper served as a wake-up call to reassess the nation's food waste practices from the following standpoints: redirection of edible food to a hungry population, purchasing practices causing waste and food waste destinations.

    According to the EPA Reducing Wasted Food Basics page:
    More than 96 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills. In 2011, we landfilled more than 36 million tons of food waste. 
    Beyond the methane gas produced by food in landfills (20%+ more potent than carbon generated from car emissions and other sources), a high percentage of the 36 million tons of food waste is nutritious, edible food. Note the 36 million tons is food waste generated in commercial operations (food production, grocery stores, healthcare and the hospitality | entertainment industry including dining establishments) and personal consumer | residential food purchases.

    Until recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Food Recovery Hierarchy was the standard for preferred food waste destination options.

    As organizations like the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) address how to redirect food waste from landfills to productive uses, the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy is reviewed for local application. In 2014, the ILSR published an updated Hierarchy for Reducing & Recycling Food Scraps and Other Organic Discards:

    The ILSR hierarchy includes the following updates to the EPA version:
    1. Title is expanded as follows: reducing replaces recovery and recycling & scraps are added along with other organic discards.
    2. EPA second tier Feed Hungry People renamed Edible Food Rescue.
    3. EPA third tier Feed Animals is eliminated.
    4. ILSR third tier is Residential Backyard Composting.
    5. EPA fourth tier Industrial Uses is moved to one level above bottom tier Landfill & Incineration and renamed Mechanical Biological Mixed Waste Treatment; anaerobic digestion is included in ILSR fifth tier. 
    6. ILSR expanded Composting to a higher level into two categories: Small-scale Decentralized Composting and Centralized Composting or Anaerobic Digestion.
    7. Bottom tier Landfill & Incineration remained consistent.
    Brenda presenting at the
    F&B Pkging Mtg
    In her presentation at the Fourth Annual Food & Beverage Sustainable Packaging Meeting hosted by Elemental Impact at Global Green's Washington D.C. offices, ILSR Co-Director Brenda Platt included the updated hierarchy in her presentation. Additionally, Brenda announced the publication of two important industry resources: 
    Brenda emphasized the important role grass roots composting systems play in food waste recovery. Working with the Washington D.C. Department of Parks & Recreation, the ILSR and ECO City Farms offer the Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders training program, a community composter train-the-trainer program with a community service component. 

    Over 1,000 New York City citizens completed the Master Composting Program. According to Brendathese Master Composters serve as community activists who encourage fellow residents to embark on neighborhood composting solutions for food waste and rebuilding the soilGrass roots efforts, grounded in neighborhood activism, create the culture where public policy, supported by community leaders and private enterprise, may segue to macro solutions for food waste.

    The ZWA Blog article, Sustainable F&G Packaging: moving from an emerging to a maturing industry, is an overview of the meeting with a recap of the powerful presentations.

    Bringing the focus local is critical to food waste recovery and food security for the nation's under-served populations. With capacity challenges for commercial food waste composting destinations, community garden and other local options may fill the gap while government officials and private enterprise wrestle with regulations, permits and at-times public resistance to state-permitted regional composting or anaerobic digestion facilities.

    The ILSR updated food recovery hierarchy aligns with the necessary local participation to reduce the 40% of the food produced wasted and 96% of food waste destined for landfill.

    Is a grass roots food waste revolution underway? What is the role of social enterprise in creating viable solutions for the entire population, including those currently under-served? 

    Green Streets - a grass roots recycling social enterprise grounded in San Francisco - recently visited Atlanta for Citizen Film's Green Streets documentary screenings, community discussions and meetings. The ZWA Blog article, Green Streets, grass roots social enterprise, is a recap of the powerful Atlanta visit.

    Green Streets empowers by creating jobs, cleaning-up housing projects and bringing dignity to an imprisoned population. Can the master composter training program teamed with community garden development augment the Green Streets template?

    So many questions, so much potential, yet who is willing to step to the plate with necessary resources, community support and wisdom to guide the creation of an effective food waste recovery template? Do we have a "Field of Dreams?" the foundation is built ... build it and they will come ...
  7. Green Streets: grass roots social enterprise
    Green Streets film cover
    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.

    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.

    Green Streets employees
    sorting @ apt. complex
    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. 

    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.

    Green Streets on
    the streets
    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.

    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
    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.

    ABFF president Penny McPhee
    w/ Sophie @ screening
    Thanks 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 StreetsUrban 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-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 - First Step Staffing and Next Step Staffing - 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: 

    Green Streets team with
    the Novelis folks
    Many new connections were made among the local roundtable participants with commitments to meet in the next weeks to continue the conversation.

    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. 

    Green Streets folks with
    Scott Jenkins on field
    With 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:
    • Welcome Green Streets!
    • Happy Birthday Tyrone!
    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.

    Tyrone with his birthday sign
    What 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!
  8. Sustainable F&B Packaging: moving from an emerging to a maturing industry
    On December 11 industry leaders converged on Global Green's Washington D.C. office for the Fourth Annual Sustainable Food & Beverage (F&B) Packaging Value Chain Meeting. The one-day meeting addresses the challenges | obstacles to sustainable F&B packaging.

    Ei Chair Scott Seydel with
    Paul Walker of Global Green
    Elemental Impact (Ei) orchestrates the powerful annual meeting. Invites are extended to the trade association and non-profit executives who operate within the F&B packaging value chain. 

    A BIG THANK YOU to Global Green for hosting the meeting in their shared office space. It was an honor Paul Walker who heads the D.C. office was in town and joined the meeting.

    Each year the meeting discussions exemplify the shifts and growth in an evolving industry. The ZWA Blog article, Tackling the Challenges | Barriers to Sustainable Packaging, is an overview of the 2013 meeting while Second Annual F&B Packaging Meeting, recaps the 2012 meeting. For a synopsis of the inaugural 2011 meeting, visit the ZWA Blog article, Sustainable Foodservice Packaging Meeting.

    Anchoring the value chain organizations are the following participating trade associations:

    Scott during welcoming remarks
    Numerous non-profits who work in arenas impacting food & beverage packaging attended the meeting:
    Many meeting participants joined Ei Chair Scott Seydel for a pre-meeting dinner at GS certified Beacon Bar & Grill. Great food and lively, fun dinner conversation set the stage for the powerful meeting the following day.

    In the morning, each organization presented on their mission, stakeholders, 2014 activities and finished with planned 2015 projects. The meeting agenda, PPT presentations and attendee list are available for download on the Ei Meetings & Events page. 

    It was intriguing to witness the accomplishments over the past year. The 2013 morning presentations were summarized as follows:
    Lack of consistency and confusion within the value chain was a consistent challenge interwoven within presentations. To create common ground several organizations are in various development stages for packaging standards, tool kits and other educational mediums. These documents are designed to assist the entire value chain - from manufacturers to foodservice operators to recycling and composting facilities - with decision making that aligns with emerging best sustainable packaging practices. 
    During the morning presentation, 2014 accomplishments included a plethora of action taken or in-process relating to tool kits and educational platforms:

    Foodservice Packaging Institute
    Lynn Dyer with FPI
    • Foodservice Packaging Recovery Toolkit - organized by sectors: communities, MRF (material recovery facilities) and end markets; includes an interactive map of end markets and case studies of successful foodservice packaging recovery.
    • Foam Recycling Coalition - formed in 2014 to establish and fund proactive, multi-year grant programs geared to drive foam recovery & generate success stories; call for grant applications in early 2015 with grant announcements slated for spring 2015. 
    • Recycling & Composting Toolkit for foodservice operators slated for 2015 in partnership with the NRA.
    • Paper Recovery Alliance | Plastics Recovery Group formed in late 2011 continue as the working groups behind FPI tool kit development, educational webinars and industry alliances for joint projects.
    GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition
    • SPC Foodservice Packaging Industry Leadership Committee, launched in 2013, is working on a Design Guide that connects design with recovery. A supporting workshop is scheduled at SUSTPACK 2015.
    • How2Recycle (H2R): Clear. Consistent. Concise, recycling labels that make sensea voluntary, standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public; collaborating with BPI on incorporating composting into H2R label; consumer testing RFP (request for proposal) slated for release: McDonald's, Kellogg's, Wegmans & Honest Tea use the H2R labels on consumer packaging.
    Brie Welzer with Green Seal
    Green Seal
    • Restaurant & Food Service Standard (GS-55) requirements address the significant impacts of food services: sustainably-sourced food (options are local and environmentally preferable), waste minimization, use of environmentally-preferable products, and conservation of energy and water. Launched in 2014 with 10 restaurants certified. 2015 Goal: become more visible & increase publicity on certified restaurants.
    • Food Service Packaging Standard (GS-35) - establishes environmental requirements for food-service food packaging, which includes single-use containers for packaging or carry-out of products from restaurants and other retail food service establishments.
    • Greening Food & Beverage Services - a Green Seal Guide to Transforming the Industry; published in 2011 and continues as a valuable industry tool.
    Institute for Local Self-Reliance
    Brenda Platt with ILSR
    National Restaurant Association
    • NRA Sustainability Report, Shedding Light on Sustainability, the NRA's first-ever sustainability report focuses on environmentally-stable trends and initiatives within the restaurant industry. The report presents the industry’s efforts to reduce waste and conserve resources through practices including composting, recycling, energy and water efficiency, and food donations. A second report is slated for February 2015 publication.
    • Recycling & Composting Toolkit for foodservice operators slated for 2015 in partnership with the FPI.
    • Composting & Food Donation Toolkit slated for 2015.
    • Restaurant Litter Reduction Project with FPI & Keep America Beautiful underway.
    Sustainable Biomaterial Collaborative
    • Guidelines for Sustainable Bioplastics provide a road map for the development and continuing improvement of biobased plastics throughout their lifecycle; The Guidelines reflect the current collective wisdom of a wide range of organizations who address the potential benefits and challenges of biobased plastics.
    • BioSpecs for Foodservice WareEnvironmentally Preferable Specifications for Compostable Biobased Food Service Ware, define the criteria for manufacturers to determine the sustainability of their compostable foodservice ware; includes a sample bid document that purchasers may use when going to bid for compostable foodservice ware.
    The preceeding list exhibits the significant industry strides in developing consistent packaging standards, clear labeling, and resources to diffuse confusion when shifting food & beverage packaging to sustainable options.

    Cary Oshins with USCC
    The Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF) - the philantropic arm of the USCC - is a catalyst for advancement of composting technologies, practices, and beneficial uses that support resource conservation and economic and environmental sustainability. Within their mission, the CCREF positively impacts communities locally and globally by:
    • Fostering scientific research opportunities
    • Increasing awareness and educating the public
    • Advancing the stature and practices of the composting industry
    In her presentation, ILSR co-director Brenda Platt emphasized the important role grass roots composting systems play in food waste recovery. Working with the Washington D.C. Department of Parks & Recreation, the ILSR and ECO City Farms offer the Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders training program, a community composter train-the-trainer program with a community service component.

    Over 1,000 New York City citzens completed the Master Composting Program. According to Brenda, these Master Composters serve as community activists encouraging fellow residents to embark on neighborhood composting solutions for food waste and rebuilding the soil. Grass roots efforts, grounded in neighborhood activism, create the culture where public policy, supported by community leaders and private enterprise, may segue to macro solutions for food waste.

    Anne Bedarf & Matt de la Houssaye
    during the afternoon break
    In her presentation, Anne Bedarf with the SPC gave an update on the EPA Grant Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC. The ZWA Blog article, Scaling up composting in Charlotte, details the grant goal, objectives, tasks and team members. Ei is honored to serve as subgrantee on the grant.

    Anne outlined three grant outcomes:
    1. Improve Waste Diversion & Infrastructure
    2. Food & Packaging Waste Characterization
    3. Lessons Learned & Transferability Report
    An early lesson learned is packaging is a second step in food waste diversion programs. Grant program participants include Central Piedmont Community College, Carolina Place, IKEA and the YMCA.  

    Ei founder Holly Elmore updated on the SFCI - Atlanta Airport implementation of the compostable packaging provision in the recent concessionaire contracts. The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport's Leadership Role in Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging, includes a history of the contract provision along with an overview of the October SFCI Vendor Fair.

    Scott using a "recyclable"
    tripod to record presentations
    On the West Coast, CoRR brings food scrap recovery systems to multi-family buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area, and beyond. When tenants were presented with the bin and bag kits, nearly all showed a strong desire to participate in the program. Education on use of the compost end product is incorporated into the pilot. Piloting Food Scrap Composting in San Francisco Bay Area Apartment Buildings is an excellent short video of the in-progress pilots. 

    During the labeling discussion, BPI executive director Steve Mojo mentioned a prominent compostable packaging manufacturerer received a hefty fine due to its certified compostable label. The packaging was sold in an area without a composting site within 30 miles. Thus, clear labeling for product end use is contingent upon local legislation and destinations available. 

    BPI, USCC and FPI are jointly working on legislation for labeling of compostable products. The SPC is working on measuring access to composting facilities to check consistency with Federal Trade Commission Guidelines.

    In addition, BPI and USCC are working together on potential revisions to the ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials - Standards at the foundation of the BPI compostable product certification criteria. With advancement in packaging technology and anaerobic digestion (AD) coming forth as a post-consumer food waste destination, it is time to review the standards with regards to industry evolution.

    Chris Weiss with DCEN was the local hero and perfect host for the group in Global Green's shared office space. Lively discussion followed Chris' presentation on the status of local D.C. initiatives and public policy.

    Patrick Serfass with ABC
    With perfect timing, the ABC joined the meeting group to participate in evolving industry discussions. ABC Patrick Serfass executive director gave an introductory presentaiton with an overview of ABC's mission and work-in-progress. Synergies abounded and collaborative seeds were planted during breaks and intermingled within the afternoon strategy session.

    After a lovely lunch catered by Whole Foods Market, the afternoon strategy session began with a discussion on the group's focus and objectives. For the 2014 meeting, the focus was on increasing organics recycling in the commercial | institutional foodservice sector (includes outdoor festivals and food trucks). Curbside (residential) and retail (grocery store) organics recycling were relegated to future meetings.

    The NRA teams with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute in the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA). Targeted at retail grocery stores, the FWRA focuses on food waste reduction, donation and recycling. When the meeting focus expands to retail grocery, the NRA will invite the appropriate FWRA associates to join the group at the annual meeting.

    Elissa Elan with NRA
    during strategy session
    Interwoven throughout conversations were the industry resources available for the foodservice operator via task forces, toolkits and documented case studies. In addition to those included above in the morning presentation outline, the following resources are available on-line:
    Business case and end markets were included as one discussion topic; strong end markets for compost and biogas are the drivers to create a sustainable value chain where all parties make a reasonable profit. 

    In 2014, Maryland passed HB878 & SB814by December 30, 2014, the State Highway Administration (SHA) is required to establish a specification for the acquisition and use of compost and compost-based products for:
    • erosion & sediment control
    • post-construction stormwater management
    A SHA report is due to the State Assembly by December 1, 2015.

    Driving policy at the state level is key to creating strong end markets. In addition to the SHA there are many other state-run agencies | divisions that benefit from compost use. Colleges | universities, parks & recreation, and state government centers are several examples.

    Challenges abound in multi-tenant facilties where the foodservice operator does not control the waste | recycling contracts. In these scenarios, the tenant often pays for the organics collection yet does not benefit from the reduced landfill cost-savings. Ei's Sustainable Food Court Initiative was created in early 2011 to address the challenges associated with multi-tenant facilities.

    Often organics recycling programs cost more than landfill tipping fees. Post-consumer food waste recycling programs may include packaging shift costs and upgraded consumer recycling centers with new signage.  

    Holly Elmore with Ei
    In Ei's Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template (S-SMRT), a Total Materials Management Approach (TMMA) is used where materials with solid end markets (e.g. aluminum, mixed paper, certain plastics) subsidize more challenging streams generated in operations (e.g. food waste). The ZWA Blog article, Total Materials Management Approach, introduces TMMA and gives an in-depth S-SMRT overview.

    Processing capacity emerged as the biggest industry challenge at this juncture. Without local or regional organics recycling destinations, there is little incentive for foodservice operators to convert food and beverage packaging to sustainable options. 

    As Brenda emphasized in her morning presentation, the Master Composter Program is a grass roots approach to building community, even neighborhood, composting destinations that bridge gaps. The master composters are educated residents who drive a public consciousness shift towards the value of organics recycling for rebuilding healthy soil.

    The majority of yard debris composting sites do not accept food waste. An educational campaign encouraging these facilities to accept food waste may collectively increase current capacity by a significant amount.

    Barriers to increasing organics recycling capacity include:
    • Permitting, in some states permits take an average of 18 months
    • Access to land, especially in the Northeast
    • Demand for organics recycling programs
    • Community acceptance of organic recycling facilities
    • Available financing
    Biogas specific barriers include:
    • Low cost financing
    • Interconnection of gas and electricity
    • Long-term feedstock contracts
    Pre-meeting group at
    Beacon Bar & Grill
    Product labeling was introduced during Anne's morning presentation and included as a strategy session topic. Even with the significant label strides over the past year, especially with the SPC H2R label program, there is frustration and confusion with developing industry standards. How granular is appropriate for labels - should labels be on the product or only the transport packaging? 

    As mentioned earlier one manufacturer was fined for labeling a BPI certified product compostable due to state regulations. Thus, public policy and state regulations are key to developing consistent label standards. Can national labels work with varying state regulations?

    Education is key to organics recycling success.The group defined the following audiences for educational materials:
    • Composters
    • Foodservice operators | brand owners
    • Distributors
    • Packagers | manufacturers
    • Packaging designers
    • Purchasing associates
    • Marketing | sales departments
    • Legal teams
    • Government officials
    2015 Meeting Group Photo
    see FB album for names
    False compostability claims are abundant under the auspices of oxodegradable, biodegradable and omnidegradable. Within educational materials, it is important to include a section on how to identify compostable products accepted by the organics recycling destination. The ZWA Blog article, Third Party Certification Edges Industry Towards a Zero Waste Economy, identifies BPI certification as the nation's accepted standard for compostable products.

    Contamination was the final topic addressed in the vibrant strategy session. Woven throughout the many topics were solutions for contamination ranging from education to labeling to industry standards. A close relationship between the food waste hauler and operator is essential to creating a clean stream. The hauler must take responsibility for the stream collected and work in partnership with the operator on creating in-house practices for contaminant-free material.

    As with all successful meetings, action points were summarized as part of the closure. In 2014 the group convened for the first time mid-year via a two-hour call; in 2015 a 90-minute group call will facilitate communication throughout the year. The referenced toolkits and other industry resources are loaded onto the Ei Reference Materials page for a common research focal point. Public-access documents are available for download on the page.

    The Ei FB album, Fourth Annual Sustainable F&B Packaging Value Chain Meeting, is a pictorial recap of the powerful meeting.

    In the past four years, Sustainable Food & Beverage Packaging transformed from an emerging to a maturing industry. Clarity comes forth from prior years confusion in the form of a plethora of industry toolkits, webinars and resources. Standards are developing along with the necessary structure to mature into success. 

    The Annual Sustainable Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain Meeting is critical to the common industry voice and abundant collaboration among the key participating organizations. Stay tuned as the industry evolves from maturing to mature ...
  9. Total Materials Management Approach
    Within Elemental Impact's (Ei) Recycling Refinementplatform, a Total Materials Management Approach - evaluating the entire materials stream in one cost / revenue center- is used. The stated objective is true zero waste with a strong focus on ultimate material destination and the remaining "trash" within the stream. Materials with solid end markets (e.g. aluminum, mixed paper, certain plastics) subsidize more challenging streams generated in operations.

    Ei Chair Scott Seydel @ MRF
    Until recently zero waste measurement was quantified as diversion rates from the landfill without final destination consideration. Known for high levels of contamination, single-stream recycling - often the only recycling option available for the corporate community - results in a high percentage of recyclable items landfill destined. Thus, “true recycling rates” are often inflated with single-stream recycling programs.

    Note effective single-stream MRF – material recovery facilities – separation is limited by the contamination in the delivered material. Published reports substantiate curbside single-recycling programs often contain significant contaminates, which may then contaminate the corporate recycling delivered to the MRF.

    The Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template (S-SMRT) targets moderate material generators whose current recycling option is single-stream recycling. Grounded in on-site material source-separation and baling, the S-SMRT is developing a city-wide material recovery template with Atlanta serving as the pilot city.

    When evaluating recycling programs, organizations generally prepare a business case or cost-benefit analysis to ensure there is a reasonable ROI – return on investment – for the particular material stream. Hard-to-recycle items or those with little to no ROI are landfill destined without further consideration. 

    S-SMRT epitomizes a common Ei phrase:
    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 simplistic terms, S-SMRT encompasses the Total Material Management Approach with the following steps:

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

    Contamination is a Mistake!

    Ei Partner M-PASS Environmental serves as the S-SMRT hauler and intends to create a turnkey option for the next tier of template pioneers. With M-PASS associates baling the material there is strong control over the quality of material sent to the recycling center.

    S-SMRT is an evolutionary process. The 2011 Atlanta Airport milk jug recycling pilot, initiated by Ei Partner HMSHost, served as the early template catalyst. The ZWA Blog article, Milk Jugs Recycled at the Atlanta Airport, gave an overview of the S-SMRT first step.

    Louis Herrera educating Matt
    Hupp on plastic film @ CM
    In 2012, the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) - Shopping Mall Pilot at Concord Mills launched the first shopping mall plastic film recycling pilot; the second step in the template foundation. Ei Partner Louis Herrera of Hilex Poly was the visionary and plastic film educator during the pilot development. The ZWA Blog article, ACTION: Theme for the SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, announced the plastic film recycling pilot.

    A third significant template step was the Fresh Point ATL (FPA) plastic film recycling pilot. In the ZWA Blog article, Plastic Film Recycling: A New Frontier, the plastic film recycling history, facts and the FPA pilot were detailed. Ei's first directed video, Ei Plastic Film Recycling Pilot at FreshPoint ATL, debuted in the ZWA Blog article, Plastic Film Recycling Template Video Published.

    When the Georgia World Congress Center joined the S-SMRT in spring 2014, the template immediately expanded beyond plastic film to total materials - a HUGE fourth step in template development. 

    The June Atlanta Ei Partner Tours were designed as a two-day experiential strategy session for further template development. Local end market destinations Novelis and Pratt Industries hosted the first tours day. Ei Partner Novelis - the world's largest aluminum manufacturer - has an aluminum recycling plant less than 100 miles from Atlanta.

    Ei Partners ready to tour
    the Novelis recycling plant
    On the second day tours Tim Trefzer, GWCC director of sustainability, welcomed the Ei Partners to the GWCC for a presentation of successes to date, including the 2013 "Greenest" Final Four hosted at the Georgia Dome. A back-of-house tour of recycling practices in-place followed the formal presentation. 

    Michael Cheyne, Atlanta Airport director of asset management and sustainability, and Scott Jenkins, New Falcons Stadium general manager, joined the lunch hosted by NatureWorks and gave invigorating updates. Note the Atlanta Airport serves as the SFCI - Airport Pilot and the Georgia Dome is the SFCI - Event Venue Pilot.

    The IMPACT Blog article, Atlanta Ei Partner Tours, chronicles the powerful tours.

    Novelis is the Atlanta Falcons recycling partner and key to S-SMRT success. Due to contamination levels at the local MRF aluminum generated at the Georgia Dome (30,000+ aluminum beer bottles at a Falcons home game) does not meet Novelis aluminum quality standards. With their ambitious 80% recycled content goal, Novelis is "hungry" for clean aluminum and a strong S-SMRT partner.

    The VERY first aluminum
    baled at the GWCC
    With clean material addressed, the volume is achieved through expanding template pioneers to a second tier, followed by additional tiers. Cindy Jackson, Georgia Tech recycling & waste director, attended the Atlanta Ei Partner Tours and is ready for the template business case. 

    Ei Partner Keter Environmental Services holds the waste & recycling contracts for three Class A Atlanta malls. The intent is for the three malls to join the S-SMRT as template pioneers in early 2015.

    Invitations to additional template pioneers - all prominent industry leaders - are slated for early 2015.

    For a S-SMRT work-in-progress overview, visit the following ZWA Blog articles:

    Ei Team @ GA Dome to
    scout material @ a Falcons game
    The S-SMRT website page lists the stellar Ei Team comprised of Lead Pioneers, Infrastructure and End Market Partners.

    With an initial focus on the high value materials - aluminum, mixed paper and certain plastics, the S-SMRT is destined to generate profit for participates. These profits are designated to cover costs associated with challenging material streams such as food waste.

    Synergistic in timing, the SFCI 2014 | 2015 stated focus is post-consumer food waste. The ZWA Blog article, SFCI targets post-consumer food waste, announces the focus.

    Back-of-the-house (pre-consumer) food waste industry practices were perfected by early zero waste pioneers. Front-of-the-house (post-consumer) food waste remains a recycling frontier for two main reasons: 1> necessary shift in consumer-facing packaging to create clean food waste streams and 2> consumer responsibility for food waste disposal. 

    M-PASS Lorraine White
    "picking the bowl" for food waste
    S-SMRT profit is earmarked to cover the expense of implementing a post-consumer food waste collection program at pioneer facilities with foodservice operations. Anticipated program costs include shifting to compostable food & beverage packaging, purchasing or modifying existing collection bins, recycling station signage, and an employee training system.

    Once food waste is addressed, the game plan is to evaluate remaining trash and work within the supply chain for solutions. Supply chain engagement is critical to achieving true zero waste. The ZWA Blog article, Supply Chain Critical to Zero Waste Success, introduces the supply chain role in successful recycling programs along with solid examples.

    A Total Materials Management Approach to recycling programs is a journey well on its path. Yet challenges abound for the Ei Team to unravel into success. Stay tuned for tales from the adventure!
  10. Green Streets Comes to Atlanta!
    Grass roots programs are imperative to mobilizing societal shifts. Green Streets is the perfect grass roots initiative to catapult urban consciousness into a new realm; a realm where valuable material and human lives regain dignity, purpose and prosper.

    Tyrone Mullins
    Founded in San Francisco, Green Streets is a documentary of a young man who said YES to an inner calling for street action; it was a matter of personal survival. Yet personal survival corresponds with humanity's survival when the Earth's finite resources are concerned.

    An inspirational Citizen Film documentary, Green Streets captures what is accomplished when a powerful individual answers his heart's calling.

    Green Streets 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.

    Citizen Film is a not-for-profit production company dedicated to crafting documentaries with care and dignity. Through collaboration with cultural institutions, community organizations and independent producers, Citizen Film creates films and online media that foster active engagement in cultural and civic life.

    Thanks to their visionary spirit, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation brings Green Streets to Atlanta as the first in a series of film screenings. A thought-provoking conversation panel moderated by Sophie Constantinou, Citizen Film co-founder and director of photography, follows the film. The inaugural screening is instrumental for Green Streets and subsequent films. 

    The screening announcement has powerful copy:

    Green Streets, a documentary work-in-progress
    Can inner-city entrepreneurship rekindle the American Dream?
    A cinematic celebration of urban innovation

    Elemental Impact (Ei) is honored to co-present the Atlanta January 14 screening along with Green Streets, Urban Strategies, Citizen Film and the Fledgling Fund.

    There are excellent synergies for Green Streets-style grass roots programs to team with the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template. Post-screening an article will chronicle how Green Streets may find a vibrant life within Atlanta's entrepreneurial landscape.

    In the meantime, Ei is excited to welcome the Citizen Film crew to Atlanta! ... and an early May San Francisco visit is in the works. Stay tuned as synergies are percolating!!! 

    Post publication note:  See the Green Streets: grass roots social enterprise article for an overview of the powerful Atlanta visit.

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