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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Ei: A Year in Review

Patrick Cuccaro & Steve Simon @
ZWZ Two Yr Press Conference
February is birthday month for Elemental Impact! On February 5th Ei celebrates our four-year anniversary and enters into Year Five of living the tagline, Sustainability in ACTION!  

Year Three ended with the National Restaurant Association's purchase of the Zero Waste Zones, which thrust Ei into a metamorphosis filled with possibilities and opportunities for most of Year Four. For details on the ZWZ purchase, see the Zero Waste in ACTION Blog article, National Restaurant Association Acquires Zero Waste Zones.

Following the ZWZ purchase, the Ei mission statement was expanded beyond the foodservice industry to encompass the entire corporate community, including government, universities and other institutions:
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.
The IMPACT Blog article, New Mission Statement | New Directions, introduces the mission statement along with Ei's expanded focus.

From the metamorphosis Ei emerged strong with three new platforms filled with action-in-progress. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduces the following platforms along with corresponding initiatives:

Product Stewardship

Integrity throughout the entire product life-cycle 

samples of alternative-coated
corrugated cardboard
In August, Ei took the first action steps in the alternative coated box initiative during the Indy Zero Waste Tours. The Ei FB album, 08-13 Indy Zero Waste Toursgives the pictorial recap of the pre-tour meetings on waxed corrugated cardboard education. For an introduction to the importance of replacing paraffin-based waxed corrugated boxes with alternative coating, see the ZWA Blog article, Waxed Cardboard = Landfill Destiny = $$ Lost,

Moving beyond landfill diversion

unveiling the trial baler
Intertwined within Recycling Refinement is Recycling Integrity - maintaining maximum material value with minimum energy expended. With an emphasis on source-separation at the generation site, Recycling Integrity demands organizations understand the final destination, including the journey along the way, of by-products and material generated during operations. 

The Ei Team is developing a city-wide plastic film recovery template with Atlanta serving as the pilot city. FreshPoint (FP), the nation's largest produce distributor, stepped forward as the lead Pioneer in the pilot. A first action step was installing an Orwak mini baler at the FP Atlanta distribution center to bale the film generated in their operations. 

For a pilot overview, visit the following ZWA Blog articles:

- If it was easy, it would already be done  - introduces the pilot & details challenges.
- Plastic Film Recycling: A New Frontier - gives Ei plastic film history along with a pilot update.

Water Use | Toxicity  
The Water Footprint: a new sustainability standard 

airborne kitchen grease
deposited in kitchen exhaust system
Within the Water Use | Toxicity Platform, Ei’s initial focus is on a proactive approach to Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG). Grease Lock Filters (GLF) collect 90% plus of the kitchen grease particulates before entering the kitchen exhaust system. By eliminating grease build-up in the system, nightly baffle filter cleaning is generally reduced to weekly; the number of third party contracted kitchen exhaust system cleanings are significantly reduced.

Ei's Airborne Kitchen Grease page documents the project's mission and current status. Below are the ZWA Blog grease-related articles: 

Under the direction of SFCI Co-Chairs Scott Seydel and Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks, the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Pilots continue their active leadership roles:

Coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the new International Terminal opening, the SFCI Team toured the new terminal to experience the impressive facility and explore opportunities to refine current practices. The ZWA Blog article, SFCI Atlanta Airport: ACTION Resumes, recounts pilot success to date along with a tour overview.

SFCI Team @ ATL Airport Tour
GREASE - Grease Recycling & Energy Alternative Solutions for the Environment - was reactivated via a SFCI - Atlanta Airport meeting focused on grease generated by airport concessionaires. The Atlanta Airport is exploring a campus-wide GLF installation with an estimated 1.3 million gallons of water saved annually. Concessionaires receive an anticipated $7,500 annual cost-savings per unit due to reduced labor and kitchen exhaust system cleaning. The Ei FB album, 02-20-13 Airborne Kitchen Grease Pilot Tour, documents the first grease-related airport tour.  

SFCI Team ready to
pick the bowl 
The SFCI Team toured two Atlanta Falcons games to learn first-hand the pre, during & post-game recycling practices in place. As a founding ZWZ participant, the Dome has strong recycling practices and is a prime candidate to refine practices to the next level. A goal is to create an on-site mini MRF - material recycling facility - where material is source-separated for sale in the commodity market. Often on-site source-separation evolves a recycling & waste cost center to a recycling profit center.

For recaps of the Falcons game day tours, see the ZWA Blog articles, Winning Recycling Seasons: Team Work Required and Refining Recycling Practices at the Georgia Dome.

The SFCI Pilot
recycling & food waste bin
In the spring, the SFCI - Concord Mills Team hosted fellow Ei Partners to the Charlotte Ei Partner Tours. Simon Property Group and HMSHost orchestrated an excellent day of presentations intermingled with tours of their plastic film recycling, food donation and food waste collection for compost programs. The IMPACT Blog article, Charlotte Ei Partner Tours, and ZWA Blog article Bring the Possible out of the Impossible, are overviews of the two powerful days in Charlotte.

Integral to success is documenting the paths traveled so others may follow. The Ei FB page has over 100 albums with pictorial recaps of our journey. A valuable industry resource, each album includes an overview description supported by copy with each picture. Ei founder Holly Elmore took the vast majority of photos.

During the year, the Ei Blogs - The IMPACT and The Zero Waste in ACTION - grew into on-line magazines as the articles are in-depth and longer than typical posts.The strong global readership continues with impressive momentum and stats:
  • ZWA Blog - topped 100,000 pageviews on November 20 and is closing in on 135,000 pageviews
  • IMPACT Blog -  closing in on the coveted 50,000 pageviews milestone.
In April, The IMPACT Blog article, A Powerful Cyberspace Voice: A Creation Guide, celebrated the combined blog 100,000 pageviews milestone with a guide on how the milestone was achieved.

Ei is committed to playing well in cyberspace via Twitter tweets and FB posts on Ei accomplishments, Ei Partner success and interesting industry news. The strategy is effective with Ei posts often featured in various industry daily news and the combined FB | Twitter following topping the 1,000 connections milestone.

Over the past year, Ei website copy was overhauled in anticipation of a mid-2014 site re-launch with a reactive template that adjusts view format for laptops, tablets and phones. The What We Do section was rewritten to reflect the three new platforms and the Ei in ACTION section was created to document the many activities in-progress or completed.  Website visits continue to escalate with consistent momentum.

Year Four was a year of firsts with the following first-time achievements:
Stephanie Barger (USZWBC) &
Suzanne Burnes (Sustainable ATL)
  • First conference partner - Ei partners with the U.S Zero Waste Business Council 2014 Conference hosted in Atlanta. The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Host City for USZWBC Conference, announces the conference. 
  • First White Paper - Ei orchestrated the industry report: The Water, Chemical, & Cost Savings in Commercial Kitchens By Using Grease Lock Filters, A Report on Restaurant Pilots prepared by an independent engineer substantiates the water, toxic chemical use, labor and cost-savings experienced by the foodservice operator: the report is available for download on Ei’s Airborne Kitchen Grease page.
  • First Honorary Society - Ei founder Holly Elmore was inducted into Lambda Alpha International, the Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics, in recognition of a successful career in the foodservice industry and her work to implement sustainable best practices in the food industry. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact introduces the honorary society and synergies with Ei's initiatives.
  • First Global Footsteps - Ei CEO Scott Seydel attended the Circular Economy 100 first annual summit in London on behalf of Ei. The IMPACT Blog article, A Revolutionary Evolution - going from a linear to a circular economy, introduces the CE100 along with an overview of the summit.
    Scott filiming @ FreshPoint
  • First EPA sub-grantee - Ei is a sub-grantee under the Sustainable Packaging Coalition's EPA Region IV grant to scale up composting in Charlotte, NC. With the SFCI - Shopping Mall Pilot in Charlotte, Ei is well connected within the Charlotte food waste and composting community. The ZWA Blog post, Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC, gives a solid grant overview.
  • First Video Produced - Filmed & edited by Ei Chair Scott Seydel and produced by Ei founder Holly Elmore, the video was a team effort. The video, Ei Plastic Film Recovery Pilot @ FreshPoint, is an overview of the metro-wide plastic film recovery pilot initial action step.
Active participation is key to Ei success. Whether an Ei PartnerSupporter or Strategic Ally, organizations align with Ei to take an active role in evolving sustainable practices into best business practices that improve the bottom line. The expanded mission statement, along with introducing new platforms, attracted new partners, supporters and strategic allies and ensured renewals among long-time partners. The IMPACT Blog article, Active Participation Maximizes Impact, introduces new partners and recognizes renewing partners' active roles.

Holly & Melissa @ Ei Partner Meeting
Ei Program Administrator Melissa Selem is closing in on her one-year anniversary! With a Ph.D in Community Health, Melissa brings a healthy perspective to Ei initiatives along with strong organizational skills and clever wit. Recently Michael Simone joined the Ei Team as an intern with the intent to join full-time upon completion of the three-month internship. Ei maintains a lean, agile and effective staff who works closely with the Ei Partners for maximum impact.

Whew, it was a busy year!  The stage is set for incredible accomplishments during Ei's Year Five, the year of change - the time is now to CHANGE outdated practices into those suited for a new paradigm.  

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