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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.

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