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2016 USCC Conference: Soils for a Greener World
In late January industry professionals traveled from across the nation to the 24th Annual U.S. Composting Council (USCC) Conference - Soils for a Greener World - hosted at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel in Jacksonville, FL. Though a treacherous winter storm kept several speakers and award recipients snow bound in the Northeast, the conference was well attended by those eager to participate in the excellent program.
Pre-conference activities included a wide array of half and full-day workshops ranging from Aerated Static Pile Composting - Applications and Advancements to Best Practices in Community Composting Workshop along with the Annual meeting of the Compostable Plastics Task Force. The day ended with a Grand Opening Reception in the exhibit hall.
The two-day conference program included opening and closing plenary sessions along with a wide array of concurrent sessions throughout each day. Networking is an important conference component. In addition to the opening reception, the program included 45-minute morning & afternoon networking breaks in the exhibit hall and a lunch was provided in the hall on the first day.
With opening keynote speaker Mathy Stanislaus, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator - Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, snowbound in Washington D.C., closing keynote speaker Mitch Kessler of Kessler Consulting shifted to opening keynote.
An excellent speaker, Mitch used humor to make important points in his The Critical Role of Organics: Where Are We Heading? presentation. In addition, Joe Lamp'l, Star of "Growing a Greener World" gave a superb, entertaining plenary presentation including points on how to build the compost story.
In the afternoon, Elemental Impact (Ei) hosted a well attended 90-minute panel presentation, Getting to Zero Waste: Composting at Special Events, sponsored by Ei Partner NatureWorks. Moderated by Ei Founder Holly Elmore, the panel showcased the Zero Food Waste Journeys at two prominent Atlanta annual events, Afternoon in the Country (AITC) and RayDay. Both events were hosted by the Inn at Serenbe within the idyllic Serenbe Community, where nature, passion, creativity and community are valued.
Sustainable Food Court Initiative Co-Chair Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks took the session leadership role with an Ei overview and an introduction to the Zero Food Waste Journeys supported by the SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team.
Ei Partner Ken Fraser with EcoProducts followed with event details, focusing on the extensive pre-planning necessary for success. Beyond site visits, strategy sessions and meetings, SMAT hosted a two-hour Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session emphasizing the critical role packaging plays in post-consumer food waste composting.
Doug came back to the podium for the event synopses. With beautiful weather, paid Waste Ambassadors and one caterer, the 2015 RayDay event in early October was literally zero food waste via on-site food waste composting at Serenbe. The caterer brought the prep food waste to the event, closing the loop on zero food waste. Due to extensive pre-planning there were minimal lessons learned in the nearly perfect event conditions.
On the other hand, AITC was riddled with extraordinary challenges on early November event day. A rainy day, coupled with prior ten days straight of rain, greeted event organizers, participants and guests with tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the event.
Of the 20 committed volunteers, only four showed up ready-to-work in the extreme conditions. And work they did! Cardboard waste | recycling bins disintegrated into the mud. The farm tractor promised at 11:00 a.m. was finally delivered at 4:00 p.m. as the event closed. Note the tractor was necessary for the compost pile construction. ... and there were 90+ chefs | restaurants participating at AITC!
Ken @ podium
Next at the podium was Kristen Baskin, Let Us Compost (LUC) owner, who orchestrated the on-site event food waste composting at Serenbe. In her presentation, Kristen gave an overview of the successful on-site composting practices at both events.
Throughout the events, Kristen kept event staff | volunteers efficient weighing food waste bags as they arrived at the compost area, cleansing the food waste of contaminants and sorting compostable flatware for grinding prior to adding to the compost pile. LUC prepared an impressive 2015 AITC video of the on-site food waste composting practices.
The Zero Waste in ACTION (ZWA) Blog article Zero Food Waste, Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned, gives an in-depth overview of the AITC zero food waste journey; the ZWZ Blog article, Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success, chronicles the RayDay zero food waste success. The Ei FB albums, Afternoon in the Country, a zero food waste journey and 2015 RayDay, are event pictorial recounts.
The Ei Team after the panel
As the final panelist, City of Atlanta Zero Waste Manager Boyd Leake spoke on the city policy implications from the zero food waste success at the annual events. In addition, Boyd played an integral role in the Zero Food Waste Journeys under his Community Environmental Management umbrella.
SMAT members Rick Lombardo of NaturBag and Sarah Martell with Innovia Films, who participated in the journeys via product donation, education session presentations and event support, joined the panel audience.
Before seguing into Q&A, Doug announced a formal NatureWorks Zero Food Waste Journeys Global Case Study is in process with an anticipated spring release - EXCITING!
Ei Partners were prominent at the conference via exhibit hall booths, as Board Members (USCC: Sarah Martinez with EcoProducts | BPI: Vineet Dalal with NaturTec), panel presenters and meeting with good industry friends.
The NaturBag | NaturTec Team
@ their conference booth
A conference highlight was Sublime Soil Founder Dean Lavallee's presentation on his impressive vermiculture systems for Park Avenue BBQ & Grille food waste. Dean owns the 28 year strong 8-store restaurant concept. It was inspiring to witness a restaurateur's creative initiative for waste reduction | elimination in the nation's second largest industry.
On the final conference day, the afternoon plenary session opened with the Annual US Composting Council Awards Ceremony; USCC Executive Director Frank Franciosi served as the Master of Ceremonies. Industry icon Dr. Rufus Chaney with the U.S. Department of Agriculture was a focal point from numerous perspectives.
BioCycle Magazine Editor Nora Goldstein presented the Jerome Goldstein Lifetime Award, the Composting Council’s highest recognition, to Dr. Chaney. The highest honor is named on behalf of Nora's father. Dr. K.C. Das with the University of Georgia Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering received the 2015 Rufus Chaney Award for his extensive industry accomplishments over the past decades. USCC Board Member Dr. Sally Brown with the University of Washington studied under Dr. Chaney and requested a photo with her mentor.
Dr. Chaney congratulates Dr. Das
With Mathy still snowbound in D.C., Cheryl Coleman with the EPA pinch hit as the closing plenary keynote for the Composting Council Conference - she was stellar!
Post-conference the USCC hosted the annual Equipment Show & Demonstrations, the largest “live” equipment demonstrations for the composting and wood recycling industry in the U.S.
The Ei FB album, 2016 U.S. Composting Council Conference, gives a conference pictorial recap from Ei's perspective.
Conference attendees departed educated on new technologies, inspired by industry success and eager to follow-up with new friends.
2016 Zero Waste Conference: "Tuning in" to Zero Waste!
On June 1 - 4, 2016 sustainability leaders from across industry boundaries will converge on Austin, Texas for the Fifth Annual National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) hosted by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC). With the "Tuning in" to Zero Waste" theme, the conference program showcases how zero waste companies and communities top the charts in dimensions beyond landfill diversion.
The Fifth Annual NZWBC is the culmination of four powerful conferences beginning with the inaugural 2012 event hosted in Costa Mesa, CA. Moving to the Midwest, the Second Annual NZWBC - Creating Value Through Zero Waste - in Cincinnati, OH was amazing. It took three ZWA Blogs to document the incredible program: Know Your Trash Up-Close & Personal, Zero Waste Success Requires WE Consciousness, & Zero Waste is a Team Sport, a powerful USZWBC conference panel.
Next was the 2014 NZWBC hosted in Elemental Impact's hometown Atlanta, GA with a stellar program keeping with the Creating Value Through Zero Waste tagline. The ZWA Blog article USZWBC Conference Theme: Zero Waste Evolution emphasizes the plenary sessions along with the annual conference evolution; the Atlanta Shines as Zero Waste Conference Host City article is an in-depth synopsis on Ei Partners' and Strategic Allies' role in the conference program.
At the 2015 NZWBC in Los Angeles, the Stars of Zero Waste shined! The ZWA Blog article Business NOT as usual: fine-tuning the zero waste journey chronicles the conference's impressive plenary sessions while the Zero Waste Makes Good Business Sense features the conference breakout sessions along with Ei’s strong conference participation.
Building on the strong conference foundation, the Fifth Annual NZWBC program expands beyond the practicalities of zero waste within individual businesses and the local community to its global implications. Keynote presenter U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator - Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Mathy Stanislaus will "tune into" zero waste's role within the circular economy. In addition, Mathy will address how zero waste programs address climate action plans.
A chemical engineer and environmental lawyer with over 25 years of experience in the environmental field in the private and public sectors, Mathy was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by U.S. Senate in June 2009. Leading the effort to advance the transition to circular economy through life-cycle based sustainable materials management approach, Mathy represented the U.S. at the Group of Seven (G7) Summit that led to G7's declaration to take actions to advance resources efficiency | sustainable resources management. Mathy oversees an annual $1.3 billion operating budget and approximately 2,600 full-time employees.
It is a true honor for Mathy to educate on how zero waste integrates within global platforms beyond sound material management practices.
Austin takes zero waste seriously and is a perfect city to host the milestone Fifth Anniversary NZWBC. In late 2011, the Austin City Council unanimously approved adoption of the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan. A culmination of two years of research, stakeholder engagement and community input, the Master Plan sets the stage for the Department’s programs and services for the next 30 years and beyond.
The aim is to reach the City Council’s goal of Zero Waste by 2040, which means keeping at least 90 percent of discarded materials out of the landfill. The Master Plan outlines aggressive milestones to ensure that goal is achieved on time, if not sooner.
NZWBC 4-Yr Club in 2015
Will all be in the 5-Yr Club?!
City of Austin Waste Senior Waste Diversion Planner Teresa Chapman moderates the conference opening plenary panel featuring industry and civic executives taking a leadership role in Austin's zero waste journey.
Additional plenary panels include: Food - Love it ... but don't waste it!, USZWBC Certification and Establishing Diversion Metrics. Complementing the keynote presentations. each conference day has two plenary panel discussions supported by two breakout sessions, filled with a multitude of panels available for attendees.Ei Founder Holly Elmore is slated to moderate two breakout sessions: Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease Initiative, taking zero waste beyond materials management and Post-Consumer Food Waste: Compostable Packaging Plays a Vital Role for Clean Streams & SUCCESS.
In addition to the stellar program, pre and post-conference activities include the ZWBA Scorecard 101 Professional Training Course, Zero Waste 101 Workshop, Achieving Zero Waste at Colleges & Universities Workshop, and tours of local landmarks dedicated to zero waste. Scheduled tours to date include University of Texas at Austin and Organics by Gosh.
Stated conference goals are:
- Helping businesses achieve zero waste to both help the environment and their bottom line.
- Teaching businesses waste reduction methods from the leaders in the field including industry specialists and experts from zero waste businesses that have achieved more than 90% diversion.
- Corporate sustainability managers and facility managers looking to cut costs through greener practices.
- Small and mid-sized business managers looking to improve waste reduction practices.
- State and local government employees who help businesses reduce waste and get to zero waste.
- Environmental consulting firms that want to learn about the latest successes in zero waste and certification.
Holly & Industry Pals @ '15 NZWBC
Photo courtesy of Scott LutockaFor the third consecutive year, Ei serves as the Official NZWBC Media Partner. In addition, Ei is the USZWBC promotional partner. The USZWBC Press Room page includes a list of UZWBC-oriented ZWA Blog articles.Registration is open for the 2016 NZWBC with early bird rates available through January 15. For those interested in conference sponsorship, the Sponsorship page details options available. Upon request, tailored sponsor packages are considered.Join colleagues in Austin for the 2016 NZWBC Conference "Tuning in" to Zero Waste" and catch the beat of a World Without Waste!
SMAT: the possible emerges from the impossible!
The Elemental Impact (Ei) task force SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - was busy in 2015 educating, advising and sharing their industry expertise to pioneers forging new Recycling Refinement frontiers. When Industry Experts and Industry Pioneers team together, the possible emerges from the impossible!
As Ei Industry Experts, SMAT members commit their resources, time and expertise to support Ei endeavors. The following lists SMAT members:
- Ken Fraser | Sarah Martinez, Eco-Products
- JD Villegas, Glasdon
- Sarah Martell, Innovia Films
- Rick Lombardo, Natur-Tec | NaturBag
- Grant Braasch, NatureWorks
- Kim Charick, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 4
Ei’s role centered on powerful Charlotte government and private enterprise connections, commercial food waste program experience, grant work documentation via blog articles & FB albums, and coordination of grant team visits.
The ZWA Blog article, Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC, gives an overview of grant objectives, tasks and goal.
During the two-year grant period - October 2013 to September 2015 - Ei orchestrated five Charlotte visits filled with powerful meetings, site visits | tours along with productive dinners where the magic flowed into action plans. The Ei Charlotte Visits page documents the important visits.
The SMAT was the backbone of Ei’s grant contributions via their in-depth industry expertise.
At the October 2015 SPC Advance conference Ei Founder Holly Elmore moderated the Scaling Up Composting in North America: Presentation and Working Session featuring the EPA Grant results | successes. A substantial discussion of food waste recovery options, challenges and successes followed. The ZWA Blog article, Sustainability: an industry defining itself, is a SPC Advance recap with the grant session featured.
SMAT working session in Charlotte
L to R: Rick, Kim, Sarah & Ken
In addition to the EPA Grant, the SMAT provides the food & beverage (F&B) packaging support for the Sustainable Food Court Initiative, co-chaired by Ei Chair Scott Seydel and Doug Kunnemann with NatureWorks. The following SFCI Pilots address the unique challenges in their respective food court categories:
- SFCI Airport Pilot – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- SFCI Event Venue Pilot – Georgia Dome
- SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot – Concord Mills
At the present juncture, SMAT recommends single-use F&B packaging is BPI Certified Compostable to avoid contamination in the food waste stream. The exception is pre-packaged beverages, such as soft drinks, water and beer.
Ready to expand their recycling practices to the next dimension, Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer requested the SMAT to prepare a comprehensive Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session for Levy Restaurants' downtown campus. Foodservice operations are contracted with Levy at the GWCC, Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, Phillips Arena and the under-construction Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Under Doug’s direction, SMAT crafted a powerful two-hour session that included ample time for Q&A and discussion throughout the presentations. On April 8, 2015 the SMAT members converged on Atlanta for the Levy education session.
Doug & Tim after education session
The ZWA Blog article, Compostable F&B Packaging: integral to zero waste programs and soil rebuilding, is an overview of the session and the important role packaging plays in zero waste programs; the Ei FB album, 04-08-15 Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session, gives a pictorial recap. An abbreviated session PPT is available for download on the Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session page. The education session was instrumental in the Zero Food Waste Journeys, another powerful SMAT endeavor.
On June 15, 2015, Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Atlanta Chapter (LDEI) agreed to partner with Ei on a zero food waste journey at their prominent fundraiser Afternoon in the Country (AITC) hosted by the Inn at Serenbe within the Serenbe community. The 2015 AITC was the event's 15th Anniversary, perfect timing to embark on a zero food waste journey!
The ZWA Blog article, Afternoon in the Country embarks on zero food waste journey, announces the AITC zero food waste journey.
In addition, AITC Event Producer ideaLand secured a zero food waste commitment for 2015 RayDay. On October 11 the Ray C. Anderson Foundation (RCAF) hosted the third annual RayDay in a lovely Serenbe country meadow. Over 1400 guests celebrated Ray's legacy, learned at the plethora of educational booths and enjoyed excellent cuisine served by The Food Movement (TFM) food trucks.
Ken educating @ RayDay
The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Food Waste Heroes: the journey continues …, updates on the extensive pre-event planning accomplished to set the stage for event day success.
On August 20, the SMAT hosted a two-hour Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session for the AITC | RayDay Team; the session was a modification of the April GWCC session.
For details on the event specific successes, challenges and lessons learned visit the respective AITC and RayDay pages.
The Sustainability for the Foodservice Industry Course is scheduled for beta testing in early 2016 by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), the umbrella organization of world chef societies. When finalized the course will be available to global culinary schools and potentially chef societies, such as the American Culinary Federation.
The WACS sustainability course is designed to embed the importance of sustainability within daily practices, whether in a kitchen, home, business environment or public area, along with establishing the ability to critically think and solve problems.There is no one answer to most sustainability challenges and solutions are driven by local infrastructure available.
Kendall College Vice-President, School of Culinary Arts Chef Chris Koetke orchestrated the sustainability course curriculum on behalf of WACS and invited Ei to provide the Waste | Recycling course material. … and the answer was a big YES!
The SMAT went to work on crafting a 50+ page PPT presentation complete with photos | visuals, instructor notes, and a glossary of industry terms. With impeccable timing, Ei Intern Jarrett Cohen came on-board for the administrative aspects of the curriculum development.
Following Chris’ guidance, the Waste | Recycling flowed from the broad, big picture viewpoint to the foodservice industry’s tremendous waste generation to the environmental impact and ended with the chef’s leadership role | responsibilities.
For the “In Summary” slide the following three points were made:
- Materials have value; Trash has cost.
- Zero waste practices make good business sense.
- Sustainability provide a competitive edge on many levels.
The ZWA Blog article, Sustainability: a matter of thinking critically & solving problems in an adaptive manner, introduces the Sustainability for the Foodservice Industry Course with a focus on the Waste | Recycling Curriculum. An abbreviated Waste | Recycling Course is available for download on the World Chefs Waste | Recycling Curriculum page.
The SMAT @ CNN Center
In addition, Rick Lombardo presented on SMAT accomplishments at the 2015 National Zero Waste Business Conference on the Source Separation Maximizes Material Value panel moderated by Holly.
At the 2015 Annual Ei Partner Meeting Rick gave an impressive presentation on SMAT accomplishments. Rick’s SMAT PPT presentation is downloadable on the Annual Ei Partner Meeting page. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2015: Year of ACTION, is an overview of the Annual Ei Partner Meeting featuring SMAT work throughout the afternoon presentations.
The SMAT work with Ei Industry Pioneers follows the Ei mantra:Ei is a creator, an incubator.Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.Ei brings the possible out of impossible.Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.With the Year of ACTION coming to a close, the Sustainable Materials ACTION Team is excited to enter the Year of Accomplishments! Stay tuned ...
Transport Packaging: shifting from trash to valuable material
petro-wax cardboard box
destined for the landfillAs businesses move down the zero waste path, audits of remaining "trash" often reveal packaging is the main component of items destined for the landfill. For the food industry, petrowax-coated cardboard boxes for produce (fruits and vegetables) and protein (meats, seafood & poultry) are a significant contributor to a foodservice operator | grocery store's waste hauling charges.During recycling, OCC (old corrugated cardboard) is shredded, mixed in a water slurry, and processed into new paper through the recovery of recycled fibers. In the water-fiber mixture the petrowax agglomerates, clogging screens and other processing equipment; the result is decreased fiber recovery. Petrowax-coated boxes are a contaminant in OCC recycling.
With a strong commodity market, operators who bale OCC on-site often create a recycling profit center with OCC revenue more than offsetting the additional labor. On the other hand, petrowax-coated cardboard goes in the trash dumpster costing the operator waste hauling charges.
petrowaxed asparagus boxes
@ Piazza ProduceGlobal Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) is currently surveying the corrugated cardboard industry to update the cost-savings and benefits related to the use of wax alternatives. Early survey calculations demonstrate over 1 million tons of petrowax-coated cardboard are currently going to U.S. landfills, costing about $50 million annually in hauling and landfill tipping fees. The equivalent recycling value is around $135 million for a net industry benefit of an estimated $185 million annually.
The CoRR Wholesale Packaging page details CoRR's impressive petrowax-free box research and successful pilots.Ei Industry Expert ChemolCompany developed coating alternatives derived from natural, sustainable raw materials (vegetable oils and animal fats.) The alternative coating provides similar water resistance and wet strength characteristics to petrowax coatings.Petrowax alternative coatings are cost-neutral to box manufacturers. The same equipment with little or no modification is used for the coating process.OCC recyclability is certified by the Fibre Box Association (FBA) who requires each box manufacturer pass a rigorous fiber recovery protocol. Boxes with Chemol’s petrowax-free alternative coating pass the FBA OCC recyclability certification.
CoRR's Lily Kelly @ podiumIn 2012 Ei began work on petrowax-free boxes. The May 2012 Zero Waste in ACTION article, Waxed Cardboard = Landfill Destiny = $$ Lost, is the second most popular blog article with nearly 5,000 views. The article features the National Restaurant Association Show education session Challenging the Value-Chain to Transform Transport Packaging: Eco-Friendly, Wallet-Friendly Solutions orchestrated by Ei Chair Scott Seydel.As a first step to understanding on-farm packaging practices, the Ei Team visited two South Georgia farms with on-site slaughter houses and packing operations. ZWA Blog post, Consumer Demand: A Powerful Voice to Affect Change, gives an overview of the farm tours and Ei's foray into Product Stewardship. As the title indicates, Ei intends to work with Industry Pioneers to invoke the powerful consumer demand to affect shifts in box coating practices.In August 2013 a portion of the Indy Zero Waste Tours was dedicated to petrowax-free box education. Industry Pioneer Ted’s Montana Grill (TMG) joined the tour of Piazza Produce followed by the education session. The Ei FB album, 08-13 Indy Zero Waste Tours, gives a pictorial recap of the Indy tours. Paula Owens w/ TMG during
Piazza Produce tourThe Ei PetroWax-Free Box Initiative was announced at the 2015 Annual Partner Meeting. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2015: Year of ACTION, recaps the meeting; PPT presentations are available on the Annual Ei Partner Meetings page. Chemol President Fred Wellons will take the initiative leadership role.First action steps are forming the Industry Pioneer Team, including foodservice operators, grocery stores, and produce | protein distributors. Next Ei will recruit box manufacturers to serve as the initiative Industry Experts.Industry Pioneers hold the key for transport packaging evolution. By using their power of consumer demand and working on common goals with their supply chain, Industry Pioneers will craft scenarios where businesses and the environment benefit. Petrowax-free boxes are an easy win for shifting transport packaging from trash to valuable material.
Proactive Approach + Simple Solutions = BIG Toxic Chemical-Laden Water Savings
In the commercial sector, cooling towers are prevalent in large facilities such as airports, distribution centers, office towers, convention centers, hotels, data centers and power plants. The cooling towers use a tremendous volume of water and the “blowdown process” releases toxic chemical-laden water directly into the sewers.
Cooling tower on a college campus
Per the Cooling Technology Institute, a cooling tower is a heat rejection device which extracts waste heat to the atmosphere through the cooling of a water stream to a lower temperature. The type of heat rejection in a cooling tower is termed "evaporative" in that it allows a small portion of the water being cooled to evaporate into a moving air stream to provide significant cooling to the rest of that water stream.
Cooling tower water must be treated to prevent scale, corrosion, and bio-fouling. Standard industry practices use toxic chemicals to treat the cooling tower water. Due to evaporation, the chemical balance becomes too concentrated and the remaining water is released into the sewer system via the “blowdown” process.
“Blowdown” can be 10% – 35% of the total tower water consumed. The cost of "blowdown" water and associated sewer charges can be significant. In addition, the released water is filled with toxic chemical agents.
The Water Conservation Technology International system uses "nature's way" by removing all of the hardness in source water. Eliminating hardness prevents scale. As the water cycles up, sodium silicate naturally forms and the high pH creates a biostatic condition in the tower water. Sodium silicate reacts with metal surfaces to form a protective barrier against corrosion. In a biostatic condition, bacteria and pathogens cannot propagate.
RESULTS: no scale build-up along with effective control of corrosion and biological growth. Thus, the use of chemical additives and "blowdown" are eliminated, tremendous water is saved and water laden with toxic chemical additives is no longer released into the sewer system.
Introduced in 2004, WCTI has a proven track record with prominent clients including Apple, Verizon, Microsoft, Boeing and Universal Studios. The ROI (return on investment) generally runs between six months to two years.
In May 2013 the Elemental Impact (Ei) Team visited the Tampa Verizon Data Center for a tour of their WCTI installation. It was an impressive tour and important to witness the WCTI system in action. The Ei FB album, Tour re: WCTI System @ Tampa Verizon Data Services, is a tour pictorial recap.
At the 2015 Annual Ei Partner Meeting, Ei Supporter Jim Harrell with Renaissance Technology presented on the WCTI system. The Partners were in awe of the tremendous water | toxic chemical-savings available with an easy ROI. In his final slides, Jim announced the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative with an anticipated mid-2016 launch.
Jim on right with Joe Salpietra,
Chair Ei AKG Initiative
Via an Ei introduction, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) – the busiest airport in the world - is in the WCTI assessment process for the 2017 FY Budget, beginning July 1, 2016. If installed, ATL is staged to save an estimated 7 - 10 million gallons of water annually. The intent is for ATL to serve as a Lead Pioneer in the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative along with formal City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability support.The Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative joins the Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG) Initiative as recently announced Water Use | Toxicity Platform initiatives. The genius in the patented technology used in the respective initiatives is its simplicity.
Both technologies use a proactive approach to reduce water consumption where the "spent water" released into sewer systems or other waterways is laden with toxic chemicals. In addition, the initiatives make good business sense from a corporate and community perspective.In the ZWA Blog post, Zero WATER Waste: more than a goal, a necessity, the foundation for Ei’s Water Use | Toxicity Platform is established. The ZWA Blog article, Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease Initiative Announced, gives an in-depth overview of AKG and its implications."Nature Knows Best" rings true in the Water Use | Toxicity Platform where simple solutions result in tremendous savings in toxic chemical-laden water usage.
Sustainability: a matter of thinking critically & solving problems in an adaptive manner
The World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), the umbrella organization of world chef societies, developed a Sustainability for the Foodservice Industry Course, which is ready for beta testing in early 2016. When finalized the course will be available to global culinary schools and potentially chef societies, such as the American Culinary Federation.In many countries chefs are leaders with the ability to influence the general population in an empowering manner. Culinary students are future leaders within an industry that has a profound impact on the Earth’s resources. In the United States, the foodservice | hospitality sector is the second largest private sector employer.At the core of sustainability is the ability to think critically and solve complex problems in an adaptive manner.The WACS sustainability course is designed to embed the importance of sustainability within daily practices, whether in a kitchen, home, business environment or public area, along with establishing the ability to critically think and solve problems. There is no one answer to most sustainability challenges and solutions are driven by local infrastructure available.Within the course, sustainability is broken down into four categories – food, water, energy and water – in seven two-hour classes. The following is the class outline:
Kendall College Vice-President, School of Culinary Arts Chef Chris Koetke, orchestrated the sustainability course curriculum on behalf of WACS and invited Elemental Impact to provide the Waste course material. … and the answer was a big YES!
- Looking at the big picture: Why sustainability matters to the world and to foodservice.
- Food Part I: Agriculture – growing in dirt
- Food Part II: Animal husbandry
- Food Part III: Seafood
Holly & The Chris Triad
Moyer, Newman, KoetkeEi met Chris when he presented on the 2011 National Restaurant Show education session The Compost Hero Returns with the HOW moderated by Ei Founder Holly Elmore. The following is a quote from the ZWA Blog article, Compost, The Quiet Hero at 2011 NRA Show:
The star of the session, Chris Koetke with Kendall College, educated on the specifics of HOW organics collection works within foodservice operations. A true pioneer, Kendall College is in their fifth year with an organics collection program.The Ei SMAT – Sustainable Materials ACTION Team – went to work on crafting a 50+ page PPT presentation complete with photos | visuals, instructor notes, and a glossary of industry terms. With impeccable timing, Ei Intern Jarrett Cohen came on-board for the administrative aspects of the curriculum development.Following Chris’ guidance, the Waste | Recycling (Ei added recycling to the title) flowed from the broad, big picture viewpoint to the foodservice industry’s tremendous waste generation to the environmental impact and ended with the chef’s leadership role | responsibilities.In the big picture portion, Ei emphasized waste is inevitable. When waste is viewed as trash, it is landfill destined; when it is viewed as a valuable material the waste is donated | reused, recycled or upcycled. Throughout the presentation, the business perspective is emphasized and how respecting material improves the bottom line.
Affairs to Remember
front-of-the-house event decorThe “My What a Big Pantry You Have!” and “the Waste FRONTier” sections focus on the tremendous volume of various materials used in back-of-the-house and front-of-house, respectively, operations. Next packaging is addressed in the “Box it Right” and “Make it Compostable” sections.
Within the “Where does it all go?” slides the Three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – are addressed with an emphasis on donation of excess food. In addition, source-separated and single-stream recycling are presented in a pros | cons format.
In “Contamination: an expensive trip to the landfill” the focus is on food waste, one of the biggest contaminants in recycling streams. When it decomposes in landfills food waste produces methane gas, a GHG (greenhouse gas) 20 – 25 times more potent than naturally occurring carbon.
Retaining the food waste focus, the “Where Oh Where is our Soil?” section educates on the deteriorated state of our soils and how food waste composting is a solution for soil rebuilding. “Beyond Landfill Destination” details the four main destinations for food waste, other than landfill.
The “Chefs are Leaders …” uses Jamie Oliver, champion of better food in schools, as the powerful role chefs play in their new SuperStar status.
“Zero Waste” defines the emerging industry standard and emphasizes the importance of third certifications, such as the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council Business Facility Certification.
The “Business Perspective” slide is the perfect segue to Ei Partner NatureWorks case studies that ground “Success Stories.” NatureWorks provides four documented examples of waste diversion, zero waste events, waste reduction and landfill diversion at global venues.For the “In Summary” slide the following three points are made:
Each slide includes detailed instructor notes along with links to supporting documentation for the information presented.Kudos to the World Association of Chefs Societies for stepping to the plate and providing a comprehensive introduction to sustainability within the foodservice industry. It is important our future leaders develop the skills of critical thinking and problem solving, especially in the sustainability realm.
- Materials have value; Trash has cost.
- Zero waste practices make good business sense.
- Sustainability provides a competitive edge on many levels.
Zero Food Waste Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned
In June 2015, Elemental Impact and the Les Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI) Atlanta Chapter agreed to partner on a zero waste food journey for their prestigious Afternoon in the Country (AITC) fundraising event. Event Producer Sue Anne Morgan, ideaLand owner, was excited to learn how to orchestrate zero food waste events along with keys for success. The ZWA Blog article, Afternoon in the Country embarks on a zero food waste journey, announces the Ei | LDEI partnership for zero food waste at AITC.
Known as one of Atlanta’s most unforgettable food and wine-tasting events, AITC is a fund-raiser for local non-profits and scholarships for women in the culinary profession. The November 8, 2015 AITC is the event's 15th Anniversary, perfect timing to embark on formal zero food waste practices.
Hosted by the Inn at Serenbe within the Serenbe Community, the AITC is held in an idyllic setting where nature, passion, creativity and community are valued. With over 1800 guests tasting delicious food samples served by over 90 prominent restaurants, hotels and caterers, there is a significant amount of food waste generated at the event. In the past, food waste was landfill-destined.
Inn @ Serenbe
The zero food waste Ei | AITC partnership aligns with the Ei Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) focus. In mid-2014, SFCI Co-Chairs Scott Seydel and Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks proclaimed:
The primary SFCI focus is post-consumer food waste collection.Two challenges are prominent in post-consumer food waste programs: 1> food & beverage (F&B) packaging and 2> consumer responsibility for food waste disposition.
The Ei task force SMAT – Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - provides SFCI support for food & beverage packaging. At the present juncture, SMAT recommends all single-use F&B packaging is BPI Certified compostable to avoid contamination in the food waste stream.
Challenges abound at food courts for implementing effective material management systems:
Scott with the RayDay
three-bin waste|recycling system
- Common property waste and recycling contracts for the entire property.
- Landlord | tenant relationships with contractual legal restrictions and obligations.
- Franchisee | franchisor relationships with contractual legal restrictions and obligations.
- Consumer disposition and separation of food waste, recycling and trash.
- Third party products brought into the food court not purchased from the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) or retail outlets.
- Food may be prepared in a commissary or off-site kitchen and transported to the QSR with minimal on-site preparation.
- Multiple packaging items used in the front and back-of-house by QSR’s and the landlord or property manager.
- Contracted custodial services by the landlord or property manager.
- In addition, each food court category has its own unique challenges.
In addition to many of the overall food court challenges listed above, annual events experience the following unique challenges:
- Annual event – by their very nature, it is difficult to shift event practices on a one-time per year basis.
- Fundraising-oriented – many annual events are fundraisers for a non-profit and | or cause with a primary focus on raising money versus sustainable practices.
- Volunteers – many annual events are produced by a committee of volunteers who change each year.
- Compostable packaging – single-use F&B serviceware must be BPI Certified compostable; an exception is pre-packaged beverages in recyclable containers, such as bottled water.
- Education – event foodservice providers must be educated on the WHY, WHAT & HOW to serve F&B in compostable packaging; includes support with purchasing unique serving items.
- On-site Monitoring – volunteers | event staff visit foodservice operators upon arrival at event to observe any F&B serving or other items provided by the establishment that may contaminate the food waste stream.
- Waste | recycling bins – in the beginning, a three-tier bin is used: 1> Food Waste, 2> Recycling, 3> Landfill; at future events the system evolves into a two-tier system: 1> Food Waste, 2> Recycling.
- Clear signage – the bins must be supported by clear signage designating proper disposal; visuals are most helpful.
- Monitor attendee disposal – volunteers | event staff assist attendees with disposal of items into proper bins to prevent contamination.
Working under the guidance of Doug and Ei Founder Holly Elmore, SMAT members moved into action mode to craft a working pre, during and post-event plan. It was empowering to witness the teamwork in-place necessary for success.
- Donation – ensure a plan is in-place for donation of leftover food in accordance with the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
- Compost – deliver remaining food waste, back & front-of-the-house, to a composting site operating within state food waste permit regulations.
- Animal feed – when compostable packaging is mixed with food waste it is not fit for animal consumption; food waste generated under the same roof as meat is often not permitted for animal feed pursuant to respective State Department of Agriculture regulations due to past disease outbreaks.
Ei Partner Eco-Products stepped forward as a key in-kind event sponsor for BPI Certified compostable plates, flatware and beverage cups. In addition, Ken Fraser with Eco-Products played a vital role in education support and created clear signage for event food waste bins. Compostable bags were provided by Ei Partner NaturBag thanks to Rick Lombardo's team spirit.
F&B Compostable Pkg
Education SessionOn August 20, the SMAT hosted a two-hour Compostable F&B Packaging Education Session for the AITC Sustainability Task Force; the session was a modification of the April Georgia World Congress Center-requested education seminar for Levy Restaurants. The ZWA Blog article, Compostable F&B Packaging: integral to zero waste programs and soil rebuilding, gives an in-depth overview of the session.
Establishing an excess food donation program was an action point from the education session. Second Helpings stepped to the plate as the excess food donation team member. Myron Smith with Second Helpings agreed to educate AITC attendees on the importance of food donation and collect the excess food for delivery to local shelters.
Myron @ AITCIn the meantime, Sue Anne confirmed Serenbe was open to adding post-consumer food waste & compostable packaging to their farm waste compost pile. Holly & Boyd Leake with Community Environmental Management secured a Letter of Interpretation from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division stating the AITC food waste falls into Category I of the permit regulations; thus, a formal composting permit is not required within the regulations.With on-site composting, the carbon footprint associated with food waste composting was reduced from over 100 miles to the nearest state-permitted facility down to zero! The intent is to set-up on-site food waste composting for Serenbe's many weddings and other smaller events hosted throughout the year. In addition, the Serenbe community has several restaurants, including one within the Inn @ Serenbe.
Ei contracted with Ei Supporter Let Us Compost to orchestrate the on-site food waste compost operations at AITC along with post-event follow-up. A Serenbe site inspection was essential to understand the site circumstances and develop a rapport with the farm personnel.
Serenbe site visitThe ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Food Waste Heroes: the journey continues ..., details the extensive planning implemented in the months leading up to the AITC event day.
As the Event Producer for RayDay hosted at Serenbe, Sue Anne secured the zero food waste commitment from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. With the team in-place, Ei quickly pulled together an effective plan for the third annual RayDay. It was a perfect opportunity to test the AITC zero food waste plan.
On October 11 over 1400 guests celebrated Ray's legacy, learned at the plethora of educational booths and enjoyed excellent cuisine served by The Food Movement (TFM) food trucks. Key note: TFM was the sole foodservice operator via their fleet of food trucks. Prior to the event, Sue Anne & Holly met with TFM owner and secured complete support for the RayDay zero food waste. EcoProducts provided the compostable food serviceware; beverages were served in a reusable keepsake cup.
Ken arrived early to RayDay and met with each food truck manager to go over the use of compostable packaging at the event. In addition, Ken placed laminated signs for the packaging on each truck to educate the event guests.
Holly next to sign
photo courtesy of Scott
With 1200 pounds of food waste composted on-site , RayDay was zero food waste! TFM brought their prep waste to the event, closing the food waste loop. Thanks to the Waste Ambassadors (paid event staff) monitoring the three-bin waste | recycling centers placed throughout the event site, the food waste delivered to the compost site was CLEAN. The only contaminants were two latex gloves.
Added Bonus: Ei Chair Scott Seydel attended the event as a guest! The ZWA Blog article, Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success, recaps the RayDay zero food waste success.
The following are several lessons learned at RayDay:
- Only grind the compostable forks for the pile; it is time-consuming and not necessary to grind the plates.
- Coordinate with event staff to bring food waste throughout the event, versus the majority of bags arriving to the compost area as the event closes.
- Weigh the food waste bags upon arrival at the compost area, versus estimating the weight based on prior experience.
While a perfect scenario came together for RayDay: great, dry weather, paid Waste Ambassadors and one caterer, AITC was riddled with extraordinary challenges on event day. A rainy event day, coupled with prior ten days straight of rain, greeted event organizers, participants and guests with tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the event.
Muddy seating area @ AITC
photo courtesy of DougOf the 20 committed volunteers, only four showed up ready-to-work in the extreme conditions. And work they did! Cardboard waste | recycling bins disintegrated into the mud. The farm tractor promised at 11:00 a.m. was finally delivered at 4:00 p.m. as the event closed. Note the tractor was necessary for the compost pile construction. ... and there were 90+ chefs | restaurants participating at AITC!The Ei Team - Doug, his lovely wife Rebecca, Kim, Ken, Holly, Boyd and Sarah Martell with Innovia Films - rolled up their sleeves to pinch hit within the challenges and created success amidst abundant lessons learned.
Thanks to SuperHero Kristen Baskin, LUC owner, along with her associate Corey Helms, 1800 pounds of clean food waste was included in the on-farm compost pile. Throughout the day, Kristen kept the volunteers efficient weighing food waste bags as they arrived at the compost area, cleansing the food waste of contaminants and sorting flatware for grinding before added to the pile. Boyd was instrumental to building the compost pile, using his extensive composting experience.
Superhero Kristen finishing
the compost pile construction
At AITC there was approximately 90 pounds of contaminants delivered to the compost area within the food waste bags. Most related to non-compostable F&B serviceware brought to the event by the chefs and beverage companies.
Rainy, muddy conditions played a valuable role for showcasing lessons learned necessary to build a solid, effective zero food waste template for annual events. The majority of lessons learned relate to stronger communication ranging from waste | recycling signage to Waste Ambassador training to the event compostable F&B packaging policy.
Many of the restaurants were not aware of the compostable F&B packaging requirement; most were happy to switch once compostable packaging was delivered to their table. A handful of restaurants brought prepared condiments in plastic containers causing contamination in the food waste. Several beverage companies brought branded plastic cups while the liquor stations used plastic shot glasses.
Condiment container contaminants
Post-event there was a significant amount of food waste left on seating tables and restaurant stations sent to the landfill by the clean-up crew. At future events, the Waste Ambassadors can easily scour the event for the food waste sitting on tables before the clean-up crew breaks down the area.
Thanks to the two tents along with several lights in the compost area staging, the food waste cleansing was effective in the rainy, muddy conditions. LUC brought a total of three tarps to AITC, versus one to RayDay; three tarps were necessary for efficiency in the rain and delayed compost pile creation.
Although it was scheduled for an 11:00 a.m. arrival, the tractor necessary for building the compost pile did not arrive until the event ended at 4:00 p.m. After repeated requests, the Serenbe farm hand finally brought a wheel barrow to pinch hit with the pile building at 3:30 p.m. The LUC crew was resourceful, creative and cheerful throughout the challenging process. ... and the compost pile was complete before dark (barely)!
Stellar teamwork coupled with strong pre-planning brought impressive success amidst the profound challenges at the 2015 AITC.
Final compost pile with
tree branch garnish
The Ei FB album, Afternoon in the Country, a zero food waste journey, is a pictorial recap of the pre-event planning along with the event day challenges and successes.
RayDay and AITC zero food waste journeys are the topic of an Ei panel at the 24th Annual U.S. Composting Council Conference hosted in Jacksonville, FL on January 25 - 28.
In addition, NatureWorks intends to document a formal zero food waste case study on the event successes, challenges and lessons learned. Ei plans to craft an Annual Event Zero Food Waste Template consisting of pre, during and post-event best practices.
... and so the journey continues!
Alternative Energy: creating solutions or potential disasters?
National Geographic Channel invited the Zero Waste in ACTION Blog to join a virtual discussion on the exciting progress in the field of alternative energy. The conversation ties into the upcoming new episode, "Breakthrough: Energy on the Edge" premiering Sunday, December 6, at 9 pm ET on the National Geographic Channel.
The discussion is centered on the following question:
Do you think that by tapping into the new alternative energy sources we can reverse most of the damage we have done to our environment?As The IMPACT Blog was also invited to join the discussion, Elemental Impact used a point-counterpoint approach to answering the question on alternative energy.
After watching the excellent documentary on alternative energy or "new ways to spin the wheel", Ei was most impressed with the tremendous strides in energy technology along with the significant investments in pilot programs.
From a zero waste perspective, Ei has strong concerns on the life cycle of these new technologies, especially with disposal of by-products and worn out equipment.
At the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project (CDSEP), a 110 megawatt net solar thermal power project located about 190 miles northwest of Las Vegas,17,500 heliostat mirrors collect and focus the sun's thermal energy to heat molten salt flowing through an approximately 540-foot (160 m) tall solar power tower. According to their website, the solar plant has a 30+ year operating life.
photo credit: solarreserve.com
The plant produces roughly 20% of the electricity generated by a typical coal plant. How many of the solar plants are required to play a significant role in replacing current power plants? At a cost of approximately $1 billion, are the plants cost-effective?
What will happen to 17,500 heliostat mirrors at the end of their 30+ year life, a minuscule moment in the Earth's life? Do the mirrors contain hazardous materials? What type of labor would be required to dismantle the mirrors for reuse | recycle options?
In August, the CDSEP applied for a five-year permit to discharge up to 0.5 million gallons per day of industrial process wastewater to three double-lined evaporation ponds. Where does the CDSEP pull the water from in the middle of the dessert? Is it depleting vital aquifers in an area nearing (or in) a water crisis?
... and then there are the migratory birds combusted in-flight. On-line videos show the birds turning bright white in the plant's solar flux before literally disintegrating in mid-air. There are concerns the evaporation ponds will attract water and other fowl who may experience similar spontaneous deaths.
With many of the new alternative energy technologies it appears the companies work within an "energy tunnel," without concern for their broader and long-term environmental impact.
Of particular concern is the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), a geothermal project established in the year 2000 by a consortium of the National Energy Authority of Iceland (Orkustofnun)(OS) and four of Iceland's leading energy companies, with the aim to improve the economics of geothermal energy production. The IDDP inserts cold water into a deep well near molten rock, which produces hot steam over 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
photo credit: thinkgeoenergy.com
In 2009 the IDDP unintentionally drilled into the magna reserve causing a thermal explosion. Is there reason for concern the IDDP drilling and thermal wells could instigate earthquakes, thermal explosions and | or other geologic phenomena?
At the National Ignition Facility, a large laser-based inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research device, scientists are working to create a mini-Sun that will provide a continuous, self-perpetuating energy source. What are the dangers associated with a mini-Sun made using fusion technology? As stated in the documentary:
Matter is being heated past the point physics knows how it will behave.It is imperative alternative energy scientists | companies break out of the "energy tunnel" and focus on the broader humanitarian, environmental and economic impact of their emerging technologies. There is no one answer to the pending energy crisis. Lifestyle choices and human population play a vital role in crafting a solution mosaic.
Thank you National Geographic Channel for producing Breakthrough: Energy on the Edge documentary and opening the virtual discussion.
... and the IMPACT Blog article, Alternative Energy: embracing the creative spirit, gives the counterpoint.
Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success
On October 11 the Ray C. Anderson Foundation (RCAF) hosted the third annual RayDay in a lovely Serenbe country meadow. Over 1400 guests celebrated Ray's legacy, learned at the plethora of educational booths and enjoyed excellent cuisine served by The Food Movement (TFM) food trucks.
Thanks to Event Producer Sue Anne Morgan of ideaLand's sustainability commitment, RayDay was a zero food waste event!
TFM trucks at RayDay
photo courtesy of TFM
Approximately 1200 pounds of food waste was source-separated for on-site composting at Serenbe. The first-time success was flawless due to collaboration by the necessary parties: RCAF, ideaLand, Serenbe, TFM and non-profit Elemental Impact (Ei).
As the founder of the Zero Waste Zones launched in 2009, Ei is a seasoned zero waste veteran and orchestrated the seamless plan. The first step was to secure the RCAF buy-in, which was an immediate YES! Serenbe was another easy YES; zero food waste means lower landfill tipping fees, provides compost for farm operations, and aligns with the Serenbe community lifestyle. ideaLand selected TFM to cater RayDay based on their sustainability standards; again, another YES almost before the question was asked!
With the complete food waste chain on-board for zero food waste, Ei went into action mode to set the stage for success. First on the agenda was to ensure only reusable or BPI Certified Compostable food & beverage packaging was used at the event.
Ei Founder Holly Elmore
@ food truck sign
photo courtesy Scott Seydel
Ei Partner Eco-Products stepped to the plate as an event sponsor providing the food plates and flatware. In addition, Natur-Tec® Sustainable Biobased Materials provided compostable bin liners to ensure no waste was generated while achieving zero food waste. RayDay gifts attendees with a reuseable beverage container as an event take-away.
To permit on-site food waste composting at Serenbe, Ei secured a Letter of Interpretation from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division stating the farm operations were classified as Category One within the state composting regulations. Thus, a state permit was not required as long as the compost remains on the farm.
Although they had piles for farm waste, eggs shells and other vegetation, Serenbe was new to proteins, fats and compostable packaging mixing into their compost pile. Ei Supporter Let Us Compost (LUC) took the helm for creating a master plan to compost food waste on-site for the many catered events at the lovely Inn at Serenbe. The compost recipe is modified based upon the amount of compostable products versus wet food waste generated at an event.
TFM brought their prep food waste to RayDay to ensure the event was zero food waste from start to finish. Any remaining food meeting the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was donated to Second Helpings.
TFM prep food waste - not much
for a 1400- person event!
Prior to the event start, Ken Fraser with Eco-Products visited the TFM trucks to educate on the compostable packaging. Ken printed signage for each truck to educate the guests on compostable packaging.
Key to RayDay zero food waste success were the Waste Ambassadors. Contracted by ideaLand, the Waste Ambassadors monitored each tri-bin waste station to assist guests with separating items for disposal. ... and the plan worked! There was minimal contamination in the food waste | compostable packaging brought to the compost area. Per LUC Owner Kristen Baskin the only contamination was two latex gloves worn by the Waste Ambassadors.
In addition, the Waste Ambassadors assisted with separating the compostable packaging for grinding prior to its compost pile destination. LUC brought a truckload of wood chips to use as a carbon source in the compost recipe. Hindsight proved Serenbe has ample woody debris from their everyday operations.
Subsequent to RayDay, the Ei Team will visit Serenbe to turn the pile to incorporate air into the decomposition process and confirm proper temperatures. LUC will educate the Serenbe staff on how to properly monitor the food waste compost pile. Best practices ensure pathogens are killed and excellent food for the soil microbial community is the end product.
Ei Chair Scott Seydel enjoyed RayDay with family and friends. While at the event, Scott visited the compost operations and was thrilled with Kristen's education on zero food waste- in-action.
As documentation is essential to creating a replicable template, the Ei FB album 2015 RayDay is a pictorial recount of the zero food waste journey.
The Ei Team at the food waste
Lessons learned from RayDay's success are the foundation for Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Atlanta Chapter (LEDI ATL) 15th Annual Afternoon in the Country's (AITC) zero food waste journey. Hosted at Serenbe on Sunday, November 8, AITC is a more complicated event with 90 chefs serving food versus one caterer at RayDay.
The ZWA Blog article, Afternoon in the Country embarks on zero food waste journey, announces Ei | LEDI ATL partnership along with the AITC zero food waste commitment. For details on the action plan, visit the ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Food Waste Heroes: the journey continues.
RayDay validates simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success.
Key steps to zero waste success
For those embarking on the zero waste journey the path to success is well worn and filled with exceptional support. National organizations like the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) mentor companies new to the journey with webinars, training sessions and conferences. The USZWBC Annual National Zero Waste Conference is a perfect venue to learn from industry veterans via the powerful program.
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency is committed to Sustainable Materials Management (SMM). Through their Waste Wise and Food Recovery Challenge programs, the EPA offers webinars, tool kits and resources to those serious about waste reduction. The ZWA Blog article, Sustainability: an industry defining itself - a recap of the 2015 SPC Advance Conference - gives an overview of the EPA SMM Strategic Plan FY 2017 - FY 2022 under development.
At a local level most states have government agencies | departments and non-profit organizations dedicated to waste reduction support. In addition, county | city governments often offer tools based on the local infrastructure available. Google searches are an easy way to identify available resources.
With the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) 2009 launch at an acclaimed press conference, Elemental Impact learned steps to zero waste success. These steps flow into two main categories: Collaboration is key to success and Take baby steps, lots & lots of baby steps.
Collaboration is key to success:
The ZWZ launch was the culmination of federal, state & local government, trade associations, non-profits and the private sector working together in unison on a common mission. Each player was critical to the ultimate success.
From the government, the EPA, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sustainability Division and the City of Atlanta represented the federal, state and local supporting resources. The Green Foodservice Alliance | Georgia Restaurant Association,and later the National Restaurant Association, were the backbone trade associations who rallied their members. Atlanta Recycles | Georgia Recycling Coalition provided industry expertise to those entering the zero waste frontier.
Collaborative ZWZ Team at
Buckhead Zone May 2009 Launch
In addition, ZWZ Participants worked together to document lessons learned and encouraged their colleagues to join the important movement. The Hyatt Regency Atlanta opened their back-of-the-house operations to fellow hotel operators for source-separating food collection for composting education. It was inspiring to witness the camaraderie among competitors with respect to perfecting zero waste practices. Resulting quotes: This is EASY, a no-brainer, why would you not separate food waste for compost collection?
Recommendation: Connect with seasoned zero waste veterans to seek their advice on getting started, supplier recommendations and lessons learned. In general, these pioneers are happy to share with you and serve as mentors. In addition, connect with government, trade association and non-profit available resources dedicated to waste reduction and food recovery efforts.
Take baby steps, lots & lots of baby steps:
Embarking on a zero waste journey may appear daunting, filled with tremendous operational and behavior change. By breaking the journey into baby steps, the overwhelming energy dissipates in accomplishment. Here is a proven baby step pattern:
In addition to the above steps, the following practices are often cornerstones in successful programs:The original zero waste frontier is conquered with multitudes of impressive successful programs. For those embarking on the journey, there is a well-worn path to follow where often the most biggest challenge is CHANGE!
- Secure top management buy-in - best to also secure Board of Directors support who are responsible to the organization's shareholders.
- Identify a "Green Team" from across departments led by a passionate individual in a decision making capacity; for non-management team members, ensure zero waste support is written into job review criteria so they are recognized, versus penalized, for their participation.
- Perform a waste audit | material characterization study to set the current baseline; in addition to material type, identify the department source; important for crafting a game plan as well as establishing success metrics.
- Quantify value of material in waste stream along with the current disposal cost.
- Understand the local recycling markets and haulers available for the material.
- Identify "easy win" areas, whether a material type, specific loading dock area (if multiple areas) or another category; prioritize the "easy wins" & give responsibility to team members for action plan development.
Effective signage at
Earth Friendly Products
- Determine incentives for employee engagement including their suggestions and input.
- Develop an implementation plan filled with "baby steps" over specified periods of time; include success metrics along with rewards.
- Document the business reasons for implementation; include tangible (cost-savings | revenue generation) and intangible (employee morale | marketing opportunities).
- Incorporate an internal zero waste plan communication strategy including fun, effective signage throughout the facility.
- Present the well-documented plan to top management for approval.
- Begin implementation process, documenting progress along with rewarding success and reminders for compliance.
- Review progress on monthly or other specific basis and adjust plan accordingly.
- Communicate success & goals internally and externally (if benefits company).
- Top management participates in a waste audit and sees firsthand valuable resources the company pays to landfill; often results in new practices eliminating purchases (switch from disposable to reusable coffee cups) and reducing use (install paper product dispensers); an effective tool to keep top management focused on zero waste success.
- Formal employee engagement program seeking suggestions for improved zero waste practices; often production line employees experience wasteful practices not seen by management.
- Zero waste evolves into the corporate culture; zero waste culture is incorporated within the new hire interview and training process; signage is placed throughout the facility to emphasize the importance in daily activities.
- Fun, lighthearted communication for a serious message.
- Continuing employee education re: at work and personal zero waste practices along with opportunity for employee feedback.
While they are happy to share and mentor on basic material management practices, the pioneers are forging evolving zero waste frontiers. With no distinct destination, true zero waste continues to redefine itself. ... and so the journey continues with pioneers seguing into industry heroes.