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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ann Arbor Ei Partner Tours

Elemental Impact Partner BASF hosted the Ann Arbor Ei Partner Tours in early August. Fellow partners were treated to two action-packed tour days filled with camaraderie, fun and experiential learning. Time will reveal the business seeds planted among partners.

Indy Ei Partner Tours group
For the past two years Ei Partners welcomed Ei Partners, Strategic Allies, and Advisory Council members to their cities for two-days to share first-hand their business practices and expertise. The first tours were hosted by Heritage Interactive Services in Indianapolis, IN.  As documented in the IMPACT Blog post, Ei Partner Tours Launch in Indy, Interactive set a high standard for others to follow.

The second Ei Partner Tours was held in New York City days after Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard. A small group continued with the tours of Global Enviro's on-site food waste digester installation and EcoLogic Solutions' Brooklyn operations. The IMPACT Blog post, NYC Ei Partner Tours, is a tours overview and the Zero Waste in ACTION Blog post, Food Waste: Too Valuable for the Landfill, is a recap of Global Enviro's installation along with commentary.

In March 2013, HMSHost and Simon Property Group hosted their fellow partners to the Charlotte Ei Partner Tours at Concord Mills, a Simon mall where HMSHost operates the food court operations. Concord Mills is the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Shopping Mall Pilot. The IMPACT Blog post, Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, is a tours overview and the ZWA Blog post, Bring the Possible out of Impossible, details the many successful Charlotte programs.

Traveling in comfort
photo courtesy of Scott Lutocka
Chris Bradlee of BASF was the ultimate host for his fellow partners. For those who arrived the day prior, Chris arranged for a round of golf on the hotel's nine hole course followed by a lively dinner. The pre-tours activities set a fantastic tone for the two following action packed days.

Ensuring his guests traveled in comfort, Chris arranged for a mini-bus to transport folks to the various tour sites. The tours began at the BASF corporate offices with Ei founder welcoming the group along with an Ei update. Chris gave an impressive overview of BASF: The world's leading chemical company with 2012 sales €72.1 billion, 380 production facilities, and 110,000 employees.

The first tour was at the Wyandotte TPU plant, one of the 380 productions facilities. It was intriguing to learn how the plastic pellets are made, the foundation of so many products. Ei integrates within BASF mainly in their biopolymers division - the Ei Partners loved learning first-hand about the diversity within BASF's manufacturing portfolio.

Tour group on Detroit  River
dock @ Portofino's
After the tour, Chris treated the partners to a lovely lunch a few miles down the Detroit River at Portofino's on the River. Though the rain prohibited al fresco dining, the group enjoyed the casual time to explore respective synergies among their organizations. With three roving photographers - Ei Chair Scott Seydel, Ei founder Holly Elmore and Scott Lutocka of Piazza Produce, the river provided ample opportunity to capture the tour energy.

Next on the agenda was the Big House at Michigan State University where Alison Richardson with the Waste Reduction & Recycling Department greeted the group. With 100,000 plus fans filling the stadium on game day, the opportunities and challenges are abundant. Thank you Alison for your patience with the inquisitive group and sharing the current recycling practices at the Big House.

Scott sprinting thru the gate
Oops, the tour almost lost one of the roving photographers within the locked stadium. Luckily, Scott Lutocka is in shape to sprint through the closing gates to cheers!

For a pictorial recap of the Tours Day 1, visit the Ei FB album, Ann Arbor Ei Partners Tours - Day One.

Chris followed Ei tradition by ensuring the group dined in local fashion at one of Ann Arbors eclectic spots. Half the group opted for a practical early evening while the other half enjoyed late night beer, coffee and dessert.

The second day was an early departure for the Ann Arbor RecCommunities MRF - materials recovery facility.  It was inspiring to witness the true community spirit at the MRF. Within the conference room, there was fun evidence the facility doubled as a recycling education vehicle for Ann Arbor's youth and residents.

An artful perspective of
baled aluminum cans
After an impressive Recommunities presentation on the overall company and their Ann Arbor facility, the partners separated into two groups for the MRF tour. As seasoned MRF visitors, the ReCommuntiies facilities impressed the group with its separation process into "clean" material, especially with the glass fragments.

.... but wait, it seemed half the group were MRF Virgins!  How could this happen? Even Zero Waste Warrior Scott Lutocka was on his inaugural MRF tour! A first MRF tour is an eye-opening experience of how much energy is expended to sort single-stream into baled valuable material ready for sale in the commodity market.

The Ei FB album, Ann Arbor Ei Partner Tours - Day Two, includes a pictorial recap of the impressive Recommunities MRF tour.

Rain followed the group keeping the We Care Organics tour confined within the bus. One of the managers came onto the bus to educate on the composting program successes and challenges and answer questions.

Due to the weather the tour adjourned a tad early with most folks departing Ann Arbor around noon. It was an impressive and educational two days with many fertile seeds planted among Ei Partners for further exploration.

Tour host & hero
Chris Bradlee with BASF
At the invitation of Ei Advisory Council member Steve Mojo, Biodegradble Products Institute executive director, NSF International joined the group on the second day to understand the role compostable packaging plays in successful zero waste

Thank you Ei Partners BASF, Chemol, CleanRiver Recycling Solutions, Ellis Fibre, Heritage Interactive Services, Hilix Poly, Piazza Produce and Tomra | Orwak for attending the tours and validating their importance to future business interactions and programs.

Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis

From inception through late 2012 Elemental Impact’s action focus was zero waste-oriented through the Zero Waste Zones and the SustainableFood Court Initiative.  In September 2012 the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ and took over program stewardship. 

The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog post, National Restaurant  Association Purchases Zero Waste Zones, announces the monumental acquisition. Ei was propelled into an amazing metamorphosis filled with opportunity and promise for tremendous impact. 

First on the agenda was evolution of the Ei mission statement and focus beyond zero waste. The IMPACT Blog post, New Mission Statement | New Directions, announces the new Ei mission statement:
To work with industry leaders to create best operating practices where the entire value-chain benefits, including corporate bottom lines and the environment.  Through education and collaboration, establish the best practices as standard practices.
Committed to effective action, Ei projects create easy-to-implement templates that make good business sense. Within the new mission statement, Ei takes action in the following focus areas:

Product Stewardship:
Under Product Stewardship Ei works with corporate consumers to activate their Power of Demand to effect changes in packaging and other behaviors. The ZWA Blog post, Consumer Demand: A Powerful Voice to Effect Change, marks Ei's first steps in Product Stewardship along with an overview of several farm tours.

alternative coated cardboard
educational examples
The inaugural Product Stewardship initiative is replacing paraffin-based waxed cardboard with alternative coatings. As documented in the ZWA Blog post, Waxed Cardboard = Landfill Destiny = $$ Lost, waxed cardboard is "trash", costing the foodservice operator landfill hauling and tipping charges. Alternative coated boxes offer a cost-effective solution for produce | protein transport that are recyclable or compostable. 

In August, Ei took the first action steps in the alternative coated box initiative at Piazza Produce during the Indy Zero Waste Tours. The Ei FB album, 08-13 Indy Zero Waste Tours, gives the pictorial recap of the pre-tour meetings on waxed cardboard education. Chemol renewed their Ei Friend status to participate in the alternative coated box initiative. 

Recycling Refinement:
Over the years Ei grew from a “zero waste cheerleader” to working with zero waste veterans on refining their recycling practices. With Recycling Refinement, Recycling Integrity maintaining maximum material value with minimum energy expended – flowed as a new focus area with an emphasis on source-separation at the material generation site. The ZWA Blog post, Source-Separation Key to Maximum Recycling Profits, gives specific examples of improved recycling profits when material is separated and baled on-site.

Ei Strategic Ally Container Recycling Institute's Understanding Economic and Environmental Impacts of Single-Stream Collection Systems white paper documents how single-stream systems achieve their goal of increasing "diversion rates" yet result in decreased actual recycling due to contamination. 

To reflect the SFCI center stage focus within Recycling Integrity, the What We Do website page was rewritten along with a new page for each of the three SFCI Pilots:
In mid-2012 the SFCI Atlanta Airport Pilot entered a holding pattern when the new airport concessions contract went into effect over an 18 month period. Ei Partner HMSHost opened the International Terminal concessions under the new contract in May, 2012. The SFCI Team agreed to wait until the International Terminal was open a full year before addressing recycling refinement within operations, 

The ZWA Blog post, SFCI Atlanta Airport: ACTION Resumes!, documents the Pilot's return to action mode via a SFCI Team tour of the International Terminal. During the holding period, Republic Services was awarded the airport's waste and recycling contract. Republic hauls the single-stream recycling collected to the nearby Pratt Industries MRF - material recovery facility. With team spirit, Republic joined the Ei Supporter program and is enthusiastic to work with the SFCI Team on refining the airport's recycling practices.

Ei Partner Myles Cohen of Pratt
Recycling with Ei Chair Scott Seydel
Recycling Integrity demands organizations to understand the final destination, including the journey along the way, of material generated during operations. Ei orchestrated a series of tours for Michael Cheyne - Atlanta Airport director of asset management & sustainability, to the Pratt MRF and other potential destinations. The ZWA Blog post, "Seeing is Believing" - the magic of tours, documents the SFCI-hosted tours.

Pratt Industries joined the Ei Partner Program to share their expertise, resources and time on the SFCI Pilots along with other initiatives in the development stages. At their North American headquarters campus in Conyers, GA, Pratt is building an amazing recycling complex to support their recent contract with the City of Conyers and other surrounding communities. First Generation Energy joined the Ei Friend Program in honor of their close Pratt relationship and long-time Ei friendship.

Substantiating Ei's important work, 2013 Ei Partner renewals were strong among the SFCI Team including BASF, CleanRiver Recycling SolutionsHeritage Bag, Heritage Interactive Services, NatureWorks, and Orwak.

Orwak balers are the work horses
for plastic film recycling 
Atlanta serves as the pilot city for development of a metro-wide plastic film recycling template. Intrinsic in the template is collection, consolidation and market infrastructure creation for moderate plastic film generators. Ei Friends M-Pass and Hilex Poly renewed their status to work closely with Orwak on creating the plastic film recycling template.

Thanks to Ei's powerful relationship with Ei Strategic Ally the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, Atlanta is the host city for the 2014 USZWBC Annual Conference. The ZWA Blog, Atlanta: Host City for 2014 USZWBC Conference, announces the conference along with Ei's conference partner role.  

Early Atlanta zero waste pioneers are eager to stay involved in Ei initiatives and are joining the Ei Supporter program. Charter ZWZ Participants Affairs to Remember and Fresh Point are the most recent to re-commit to Ei since the NRA ZWZ purchase.

Water Use | Toxicity:
Ei took first steps in the Water Use | Toxicity focus area via publication of the ZWA Blog post, Zero WATER Waste: more than a goal, a necessity, in May 2013.  The post laid the foundation for Ei orchestrating a Grease Lock Filter Restaurant Pilot by an independent engineer.  

Ei Partner Ellis Fibre manufactures a patented, disposable grease filter that is placed in front of the kitchen exhaust system baffle filters. EF's Grease Lock Filters collect 90% plus of the airborne kitchen grease particulates before entering the exhaust system. By eliminating grease build-up in the system, the nightly baffle filter cleaning is generally reduced to weekly; the number of third party contracted kitchen exhaust system cleanings are significantly reduced.  

GREASE Team @ ATL Airpot
The ZWA Blog post, GREASE: a frontier filled with economic & environmental promise, announces the report release that documents the water | labor | toxic chemical and cost savings achieved by each pilot restaurant.

Ei Task Force GREASE -  Grease Recycling & Energy Alternative Solutions for the Environment - returns to action mode with an expanded grease definition to include the following three types generated in foodservice operations:
  • Spent Grease - used grease from fryers, often referred to as yellow grease
  • F.O.G - Fats, Oils & Grease - grease collected from grease traps, often referred to as brown grease
  • Kitchen Hood Grease - airborne grease accumulated in the exhaust system from kitchen operations
The ZWA Blog post, GREASE: Activating the Zero Waste Evolution,  announces GREASE reactivation via a meeting with the SFCI - Atlanta Airport team. At the meeting, the airport took the first steps in assessing the types, quantities and current destinations of grease generated at the airport concessionaire operations.

Ei emerged from an amazing metamorphosis time with renewed vigor in three separate, yet intertwining focus areas. The plethora of Ei participation renewals and new members substantiates Ei lives its tagline - Sustainability in ACTION.