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Friday, May 30, 2014

2014 National Restaurant Association Show: a powerful, magical event

Each May the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago is a top priority in Elemental Impact's travel schedule. With the 2012 NRA purchase of the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), Ei maintains a close working relationship with the NRA. In addition Ei Partners, SupportersStrategic Allies and Advisers speak in educational sessions, host booths in the Show exhibit halls and participate as Show attendees.

Magnificent Mile Tulips
Arriving days prior to the conference start, Ei founder Holly Elmore explores the glorious city in the midst of The Magnificent Mile's tulip extravaganza and meets with colleagues prior to the show commencement. 

For her fourth consecutive stay, Holly received VIP treatment at The Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton Hotel. Located on the Chicago Loop, the hotel is easy access to the lake, excellent dining and the theatre district. Each day Ei tweeted on the hotel's strong sustainability commitment - yes, the hotel's restaurant South Water Kitchen collects their food waste for composting!

A tradition, NRA senior editor, sustainability Elissa Elan and Holly enjoy dinner together upon arrival. It is a perfect time for good friends to catch-up and strategize on how to maximize "show time."  Another dining tradition is with the CleanRiver Recycling Solutions folks after their show booth is set-up.

Green Practices to Achieve
Millennial Loyalty Panel
Atlanta -  Ei's hometown - was well represented in the NRA ConServe's sustainability tract within the educational sessions. Ei Adviser and founding ZWZ Chair Laura Turner Seydel joined the impressive Green Practices To Achieve Millennial Loyalty panel.  

In addition to dining out more often than prior generations, the Millennial sector EXPECTS sustainable practices. An excellent speaker, Dr. Christian Hardigree, Director, Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University (KSU), gave a hilarious, effective presentation on the panel.

After the panel, the room seemed like an Atlanta reunion: Frank Bragg (Radial Cafe), Tim Trefzer (Georgia World Congress Center Authority), Doug Kunnemann (NatureWorks | Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI co-chair), Carolyn O'Neal ( and Courtney Lancaster (KSU) attended the powerful session. In addition, Ei Partners Anselm Doering of EcoLogic Solutions (ELS) and Bruce Buchan of CleanRiver were in the session audience.

Tim's slide on SFCI
projects @ GA Dome
The following day Ei Supporter Tim Trefzer - GWCC director of sustainability - presented on the Making The Business Case: ROI on Sustainability Projects ConServe educational panel. As the Georgia Dome is the SFCI Event Venue Pilot, Tim included a slide of recent work with the SFCI Team on post-consumer food waste collection for compost.

For Ei, the CleanRiver booth served as central ground for connecting with Show attendees. In fact, Ei Supporter EcoSafe Zero Waste's stop by the CleanRiver booth segued into a spontaneous encounter with Holly over much appreciated beers!  

The ELS booth was amazing with a "living wall" showcasing their ECA (Electro-Chemical Activation) technology. Immediately prior to the Show, ELS received the Green Seal certification for their cleaning solutions - a big congratulations to ELS founder Anselm Doering and his team! 

The ELS system tour 
After a lovely lunch, Ei Strategic Ally Cerise Bridges - Green Seal certification specialist - and Holly toured the recently installed ELS system at McCormick Place, the nation's largest convention center. It was impressive to witness the ingenious simplicity within the ELS system that provides toxic-free solid suds for the center's dishwashers along with all purpose cleaner, kitchen sanitizer,and bathroom disinfectant at a spray bottle fill station.

At meetings during the Show, EcoProducts accepted the invitation to join the Ei Partner Program and will join the June 9 & 10 Atlanta Ei Partner Tours. With post-consumer food waste collection a goal for the 2014 Atlanta Falcons season at the GA Dome, a strong compostable packaging partner is integral to success.

Tom Lembo & Bruce Buchan
@ CleanRiver booth
During the Show, Holly joined Ei Partner Joe Salpietra of Ellis Fibre | Grease Lock Filters for meetings at the Franke booth followed by an excellent dinner at Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse. The stage is set for tremendous impact within Ei's Airborne Kitchen Grease Initiative within the Water Use | Toxicity Platform - stay tuned!

The Ei FB album, 2014 NRA Show, is a pictorial recap of the NRA Show from Ei's perspective.

As in prior years, the 2014 NRA Show was a powerful industry gathering where business intertwined within dining, events and other social interactions, educational seminars, walking the exhibit hall and spontaneous encounters. Tangible and intangible benefits are abundant for those open to experience the magic of the prominent show that attracts 60,000 plus attendees.