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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ei 2016: A Year of Recognition

Ei Partners traveled from across the
nation for intimate, powerful meeting.
On Thursday, November 17 Elemental Impact Partners, Friends, SupportersStrategic Allies and Advisory Council Members traveled from across the nation to attend the Annual Ei Partner Meeting. It was a powerful day filled with education, updates, camaraderie along with great food and wine. Thank you HLB Gross Collins for hosting the meeting and reception.

Ei Chair Scott Seydel welcomed the Ei Family with a reminder the meeting follows the Chatham House Rule. After introductions, Ei Founder Holly Elmore gave the annual Ei Year in Review presentation. In her opening slide, Holly summarized the past and current years as follows:
2012: Year of Accomplishments | Completions - in late 2012 the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) were sold to the National Restaurant Association catapulting Ei into a major metamorphosis.The ZWA Blog article, The NRA Acquires ZWZ, announces the monumental acquisition.
2013: Year of Transitions | Introductions - until fall 2013 Ei flowed within the metamorphosis stage. As the year drew to a close, the three-platforms approach emerged. The IMPACT Blog, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduced the three platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity. The IMPACT Blog article, Another Year, Another Annual Ei Partner Meeting, recaps the formation of the new Ei three-platform approach for pilots and initiatives.
2014: Year of Foundations | Evolutions - in 2014 the platforms were grounded with initiative launches and supporting taglines. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution, provides a summary of the platform foundations. 
2015: Year of ACTION - in 2015 Ei lived up to its tagline: Sustainability in ACTION! The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2015: A Year of ACTION, summarizes the empowering year.
2016: Year of Recognition - in 2016 Ei's important work was recognized in published industry case studies and Ei-hosted national conference panels. In addition, the Ei Blogs' following significantly increased and Holly was recognized as a respected journalist.
In her Year in Review presentation, Holly gave a synopsis of Ei recognition including a powerful speaking circuit at universities and national conferences:

Colleges | Universities:
Holly speaking @ Ga Tech
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
Ei-Hosted Panels @ Industry Conferences:
2016 U.S. Composting Council Conference
2016 National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC)
Ei Team at USCC Conference
Industry Webinar:
U.S. Zero Waste Business Council:

  • Recycling: The Business Case co-presented by Ei Founder Holly Elmore & Container Recycling Institute President Susan Collins in December, 2016.
The ZWA Blog article, A Recycling or Contamination Crisis? an article series, was published to coincide with the Recycling: The Business Case webinar promotion. Important to the industry, the article garnered 800 views since its November 6 publication, a mere two plus weeks!

Intended article series topics include:
  • Waste Prevention – working within the value chain.
  • WE Consciousness | Culture – working together is key | top management buy-in is essential to creating a zero waste culture.
  • Hauler | Generator Responsibility - working together, hauler & customer craft recycling programs that generate clean streams and make solid business sense.
  • Clear Communication - educating employers and guests on proper placement for material and trash.
  • Local Infrastructure - working with grass roots recycling companies on flexible programs unique to the local end market.
Case studies validate accomplishments and serve as templates | encouragement for related organizations to follow suit. The week of the Annual Ei Partner Meeting, three Ei-related case studies were published: RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction, Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success, and a Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls.

Ei Partner NatureWorks published the RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction and Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case studies to showcase the 2015 Ei Zero Food Waste Journeys. Thanks to SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - leadership, 2015 RayDay achieved zero food waste, including the caterer's food prep scraps. The ZWA Blog article, Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success, chronicles the RayDay accomplishment in alignment with the case study. 

The Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case study highlights waste reduction at the 2015 Les Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI) Atlanta Chapter’s prominent annual fundraiser Afternoon in the Country (AITC). Rainy, muddy event conditions showcased lessons learned necessary to build a solid, effective zero food waste template for annual events. The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned, supports the case study with event details.

Tonya Randell with Moore Recycling Associates attended the annual meeting to announce the Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls release. Prepared by Ei on behalf of W.R.A.P. - Wrap Recycling Action Program, the case study chronicles the Charlotte plastic film recycling programs pioneered within the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) - Shopping Mall Pilot

CM GM Ray Soporowski w/
his Orwak baler
Concord Mills (CM) launched their plastic film recycling program in August 2012 and SouthPark Mall a month later. Louis Herrera with Ei Partner Novolex (then Hilex Poly) was instrumental to crafting the mall plastic film recycling template. Ei Partner Orwak worked closely with CM General Manager Ray Soporowski on the on-site plastic film baling process.

For the case study ROI (return on investment) analysis, 2015 calendar year program stats were used. Tonya brought several hard copies of the case study published three days earlier.

Ei's pioneering role in commercial plastic film recycling is chronicled on the the Plastic Film Recycling website page. The Ei FB album, Source-Separated Materials Recycling: building a city-wide network, is a pictorial recap of the work-in-progress. Note the Plastic Film Recycling Template expanded to the Source-Separated Material Recycling Template.

In addition to the case study, Tonya presented on the WRAP successes and programs under development. Initiated by members of the American Chemistry Council's Flexible Film Recycling Group in partnership with GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition and The Association of Plastic Recyclers, W.R.A.P.'s purpose is to reinvigorate plastic film recycling. The goal is to double recycling to 2 billion tons by 2020.

Within her Year in Review presentation, Holly welcomed two new Ei Strategic Allies: Recycle Across America and Second Helpings - Atlanta (SHA). The IMPACT Blog article, Ei Welcomes New Strategic Allies, includes an introduction to the organizations.

After lunch SHA Executive Director Joe Labriola gave a passionate presentation on SHA's impressive impact; SHA connects Atlanta's excess food with the city's hungry population. Joe began his presentation with the long-standing Ei | SHA partnership, dating back to 2009. As he closed the session, Joe included a slide on SHA's impact:
  • 125 pick-ups | deliveries per week.
  • 146,000 pounds of food rescued in October 2016, twice the amount rescued in October 2015.
  • 1,109,000 pounds of food rescued in 2016, a 62% increase over 2015
  • 5.700,000 pounds of food rescued since SHA was established in 2004.
Joe Labriola speaking at meeting
In Joe's words:

It took us 15 months to rescue 100,000 pounds of food. We’re doing that now every 25 days.

The new Ei website launch was prominent within Holly's Year in Review.  With an entirely new format, the website home page is re-designed to include Holly's photos as the navigation base. Many new pages | sections are added to document Ei initiatives and work-in-progress. A prominent new section is Mission Accomplished, a collage of Ei endeavors considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished:
In April 2016 the IMPACT Blog article, Ei: New Website, New Era!, announced the new website launch.

Within the Ei: Respected Media presentation section, Holly began with the escalating status of the Ei Blogs. Below are the quick overview blog stats:

The IMPACT Blog:
  • 95,000 pageviews
  • 120 published articles
  • Average 792 pageviews per article
  • Most popular article: Ei New Mission Statement (12/12) 2,845 views
The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog:

The ZWA Blog article, Ei Blogs: respected media & valuable industry resources, celebrates strong readership, acknowledges teamwork necessary to build the solid foundation, and details interesting reader analytics.

National trade associations are vehicles to educate the corporate community on the zero waste business value. In October two prominent industry trade associations - the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) - published front-cover zero waste articles in their October hard copy magazines.

For the ISM cover article, Full Circle, Supply management can play a key role in the circular economy, working with suppliers to eliminate waste and drive financial value, Holly served as an industry resource for the author. As a "thank you" the article ended with a prominent quote by Holly.

The NWPCA Pallet Central September | October issue cover article, Zero Waste Makes Good Business & Environmental Sense, was written by Holly on behalf of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC). With three industry magazine-published articles, a new website page Ei-Published Articles was created.

For details on the national trade association articles, visit the ZWA Blog article, Zero waste moves from "best" to standard operating practices.

Holly's Fingertip Press moved from respected media to recognized journalist with the following invitation:
In early November the U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22 preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.
Since 2012 the USZWBC | Ei relationship evolved into a strong partnership, grounded in media, communication and education. The following is a brief synopsis of the evolution:
  • 2012 – Holly presented @ inaugural conference. 
  • 2013 – First Ei-hosted conference panel: Zero Waste is a Team Sport.
  • 2014 – Ei named conference media partner…. and more!
  • 2015 – Ei named USZWBC media partner.
  • 2016 – Ei wrote magazine cover article on behalf of USZWBC.
Stephanie Barger speaking at meeting
In the afternoon, USZWBC Founder & Former Executive Director Stephanie Barger gave an empowering update. Beginning with a focus on the USZWBC substantial certification and education program development, Stephanie followed with a focus on the strong Ei | USZWBC partnership. 

In her closing remarks, Stephanie discussed the USZWBC and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) joining forces along with its industry implications. Effective November 1, Stephanie is the USGBC National Zero Waste Director.

The ZWA Blog article, USGBC Empowers Zero Waste Industry: USGBC & USZWBC join forces, announces the monumental event.

Holly ended the Yr in Review presentation with an Ei: Global Reach section. In 2014 Holly was inducted into Lambda Alpha International (LAI), a global land economics honorary, and this year was appointed to the International Public Relations & Communications Committee. At the Fall 2016 Toronto Land Economics Weekend (LEW), Holly represented the Atlanta Chapter at the semi-annual LAI Executive Committee meetings.

Scott Seydel during his EMF update
The IMPACT Blog article, Toronto: crafting a livable city amidst staggering population shifts and growth, is a Toronto LEW overview with commentary on the powerful presentations and tours throughout the weekend. A LAI emphasis on livable cities flows with Ei focus areas.

Earlier in the fall, Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) CEO Andrew Morlet requested Ei support for the Biocycle Economy concept paper under development. The nutrient cycle within cities is integral to the Biocycle Economy. In addition, the paper addresses release of toxins into the environment, augmenting the Ei synergies.

In the afternoon, Scott gave an impromptu EMF update on their profound work within the Circular Economy and beyond. Scott serves on the EMF USA Board.

Boyd Leake speaking at meeting
City of Atlanta, Mayor's Office of Sustainability Senior Policy Adviser Boyd Leake opened the formal presentations for the meeting. In his overview, Boyd educated on the City's four initiative areas: 1> electric vehicles, 2> recycling, 3> urban agriculture and 4> municipal. Additionally, Boyd updated on the City's recent Rockefeller Foundation Grant and Stephanie Benfied's appointment to Chief Resilience Officer.

Following Boyd, Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer updated on the pending Georgia Dome decommissioning, Solar Arrays, the Energy-Saving Performance Contract and the potential new GWCC campus hotel. Tim's opening slide was a reminder of the GWCC | Ei longstanding partnership, beginning with the 2009 ZWZ Launch press conference. Due to the Georgia Dome's slated March 2017 decommissioning, the SFCI - Event Venue Pilot will shift to the GWCC.

Tim reported the following impressive savings from October 2015 to September 2016 under the Energy-Saving Performance Contract:
  •  $983,849 of energy costs saved.
  •  $173,167 Georgia Power rebates.
  •  5,583,710 kWh of electricity saved.
  •  16,312,384 gallons of water saved.
  •  536,666 pounds (268 tons) of construction waste recycled.
David Paull during his presentation
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
The morning session ended with a impressive presentation by Compost Wheels (CW) Founder & Chief Composting Officer David Paull. It was empowering to understand David's passion for rebuilding our soils, educating the youth, and creating a solid community-based food waste collection for compost system. Via a recent partnership with King of Crops farm, CW expanded their residential food waste collection business model to include the commercial sector.

Prior to lunch, Holly gifted attendees with sweet 'n savory bags filled with delectable homemade treats. An added bonus is a photo print from Holly's nature photography portfolio.

One of the Annual Ei Partner Meeting highlights is the excellent lunch filled with plenty of vegetarian options. As in the past, Chef Donald Stone "wowed" the partners with the amazing feast!

After lunch Donald switched chef jackets to his role as Georgia State University (GSU) PantherDining Executive Chef for a presentation on their exceptional sustainability commitment. Beginning with the downtown campus stats, Donald established GSU as a major contributor to Atlanta's economic vitality: 
Chef Donald Stone speaking
  • 34,000 undergraduate and graduate students
  • 2,000 staff and faculty
  • 8 schools and colleges offering
  • 61 buildings, spanning 71.79 acres
  • 3 dining halls, serving over 10,000 meals a day
PantherDining incorporates food waste prevention best practices within their daily operations: trayless dining with reusable serviceware, food served to students (vs. self-serve), condiment pump stations, individual napkin dispensers, and small batch production. To monitor and improve their food waste, PantherDining uses the LeanPath food waste smart meter system.

Biannually PantherDining hosts Plate Waste Parties to raise student awareness of post-consumer waste. Excess food meeting the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act is collected by student-driven Panther Food Recovery Network for donation to local agencies. Kitchen scraps and post-consumer food waste are collected for commercial compost.

Healthy dining is a top PantherDining priority with a dietitian on staff at each dining hall. In addition to Meatless Mondays, 20% of food offerings are vegan and 68% are vegetarian. When practical, PantherDining purchases from local businesses.

Wasabi arugula 
IMPRESSIVE: the PantherDining Freight Farm is an enclosed vertical farm system free of pesticides| herbicides with a 365-day growing system. The equivalent of an one-acre farm, the 256 growing towers produced 450 heads of lettuce in the first eight-week harvest. In October, Donald hosted Boyd & Holly on a PantherDining tour; the Freight Farm was the tour star!  At the meeting Donald shared samples of the Freight Farms greens - the wasabi arugula is beyond awesome!

It was empowering to learn the history of Ted's Montana Grill's (TMG) role pioneering sustainable best practices in the restaurant industry. The journey began with the Green Restaurant Revolution 2008 launch by Co-Founders Ted Turner and George McKerrow. TMG Sustainability & Purchasing Manager Paula Owens gave an excellent overview of TMG sustainability practices ranging from source reduction to small batch production to energy and water conservation.

Paula Owens during her presentation
Paula works closely with their supply chain to minimize transport package, ensure integrity within production processes, and purchase locally where feasible. In addition to their internal water conservation, TMG supports the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset a portion of their annual water usage. By funding water restoration certificates to restore their unavoidable water footprint, TMG helped restore over 12 million gallons of water in the Colorado River Basin over the past five years.

In her closing remarks, Paula mentioned TMG is evaluating an Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG) Initiative pilot in two of their metro Atlanta restaurants.

Since Ei Sustainer Jordan Salpietra of Grease Lock Filters (GLF) was unable to attend the meeting, Holly stepped into her "Jordan persona" for the Ei AKG Initiative update. A powerful year, GLF is in the midst of national installations of their proactive AKG system at Walmart | Sam's Club, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy's, McDonald's and more.

Though they are high profile and important for the initiative, national chains are only 10% of the U.S. restaurant industry; regional chains are 20% and single-operators comprise 70% of the restaurant industry. To service the single-operators and small chains, GLF developed an e-commerce site for filter on-line ordering and shipping. In first quarter 2017, the site is slated for roll-out within the Ei AKG City-Wide Template, which was announced at the 2015 Ei Annual Partner Meeting.  

Jim Harrell speaking at meeting
Another Water Use | Toxicity program, the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative, gained significant momentum in the second half of the year. Renaissance Technology President Jim Harrell presented on the initiative premise | history along with two prominent case studies at Polk State College and the Tampa Data Center.

In the fall, the Ei Team met with the Mercedes Benz Stadium engineering department and TRANE on behalf of the GWCC. TRANE corporate is vetting the underlying WCTI technology for future guaranteed energy performance contracts. On November 14 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the SFCI - Airport Pilot and the busiest airport in the world!, issued a cooling tower RFP. The Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative was one of several organizations included in the RFP.

Holly donned a Michigan State hat as she stepped into her Ei Partner Rick Lombardo of NaturTec persona. Rick co-presented the 2016 NZWBC Macro Cost of Micro Contamination panel with Lia Colabella of Five Gyres Institute and was disappointed to miss the annual meeting.

Rick Lombardo & Lia Colabella
The NZWBC Macro Cost of Micro Contamination panel was a huge success! A prominent attendee confided in Holly "this was the BEST conference panel - I learned so much and I appreciate gaining visibility to such important issues!"

Micro level contamination yields tremendous hidden costs to communities, the environment and food chain systems. Though often not seen by the human eye, fragmented microplastic pieces are poison to our soils | water microbial communities as well as to fish, mammals, birds and most all life forms. 

Rick's presentation focused on the micro contamination in compost when petroleum-based plastics, versus certified-compostable plastics, are used for foodservice packaging and food waste bags. The fragmentation process results in tiny plastic pieces that may slip through the screening process into finished compost. Within the presentation, Rick explains the difference between bio-degradation and decomposition: TIME! 

For decomposition, complete assimilation within 180 days must occur in an industrial compost environment. There is no time constraint for complete assimilation within the bio-degradation definition. "Green washed" petroleum-based products with misleading to false claims are abundant. Thus, it is important for foodserivce operators to ensure products are BPI-certified compostable.

The ZWA Blog article, The Macro Cost of Micro Contamination, is an in-depth recap of the powerful NZWBC panel.

Greg Chafee speaking at meeting
Ei General Counsel Greg Chafee with Thompson Hine closed the formal presentations with interesting anecdotes from his renewable energy clients. What a great slide of Greg's work escapades:
A Life of Adventure….!
  • Moose Hunting at Minus 20 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Passing the Peace Pipe in a Teepee
  • Driving a Rail Locomotive Across a Collapsing Bridge
  • Rappelling Down a Wind Turbine
In addition, Greg wove a closing synopsis of the empowering presentations throughout the day. Scott and Holly gave meeting closing comments.

The wine reception following the formal meeting was an excellent time for Partners to chat in a relaxed atmosphere and continue discussions started during the meeting. Partners were treated to Holly's homemade gravlax with mustard dill sauce and her goat cheese cheesecake with grape compote. Chef Donald completed the reception with his excellent cheese & light hors d'oeuvres platters.

Group dinner @ Portofino
photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
Following tradition, the meeting festivities ended with a lovely dinner at Portofino. Superb food and wine brought forth the magic intertwined within the powerful presentations and dialogue throughout the day.

A big THANK YOU to University of Georgia seniors Samantha Eberhard & Mason Towe for helping out with the meeting administration. 

The Ei FB album, 2016 Ei Annual Meeting, is a pictorial recap of the monumental day. PPT presentations are soon available for download on the Annual Ei Partner Meetings page.

With the Year of Recognition coming to a close, the Ei Team is excited to move into expanded dimensions of impact! Stay tuned ...


  1. Fantastic meeting, Holly! Awesome to hear from everyone and learn about the 'green' projects they're working was invigorating! Looking forward to another great year of partnership!

    1. Thank you so much for attending the Annual Ei Partner meeting again this year. The Ei Family is powerful, diverse and leaders within the sustainability frontier. It was great to hear your update on Affairs to Remember's strong sustainability commitment along with new adventures!