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Monday, June 30, 2014

Atlanta Ei Partner Tours

On June 9 & 10 Elemental Impact Partners traveled from across North America to participate in the Atlanta Ei Partner Tours, hosted by Pratt IndustriesNovelis Inc., the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). Ei Partners were treated to two action-packed tour days filled with camaraderie, fun and experiential learning.

Ei Chair Scott Seydel, Holly
& Chris Bradlee (BASF) on
Ann Arbor Tours
Picture courtesy of Scott Lutocka
Ei Partners meet three times per year in a formal setting: twice for Ei Partner Tours and once for the Annual Meeting. On the tours, Host Partners welcome fellow PartnersStrategic Allies, and Advisory Council members to their cities for two-days to share their business operations, practices and expertise. Spontaneous strategy sessions on collaborative work are common during the tours.

The first August, 2012 tours were hosted by Heritage Interactive Services in Indianapolis, IN. As documented in the IMPACT Blog article, Ei Partner Tours Launch in Indy, Interactive set a high standard for others to follow.

Additional past tours include:

Part of the Tours Group in
cardboard rolls storage area
For the first Atlanta tour day, partners met at a Buckhead hotel where they boarded a bus for the Pratt complex in Conyers, GA and the Novelis aluminum recycling plant in Greensboro. GA. Thank you Novelis for providing the comfortable bus for the tours travel. Upon arrival, each tours participant received an info packet and a bag of home baked sweet treats. Time on the bus was well spent with Ei founder Holly Elmore giving a tours overview and facilitating introductions.  

Thanks to Mary Place, Pratt Southeast sales manager, the Pratt campus tour was organized yet relaxed during the groups limited time at the Conyers headquarters. The Pratt team greeted the bus with the appropriate vests and glasses required to tour the cardboard mill. Plant managers took three groups of six participants on a personalized tour of the mill that manufactures cardboard from 100% recycled material. Depending upon the cardboard grade produced, the mill recipe consists of various proportions of mixed paper and OCC - old corrugated cardboard. While walking the mill production line, it was impressive to witness the transformation of mixed paper and OCC into a huge roll of cardboard.

Myles, Holly & Scott Jenkins
during lunch @ Pratt
With the box plant literally next door, the cardboard rolls are transported through a large doorway for storage until used in the corrugating and box cutting machines. With prominent customers like Home Depot, it was fun to see finished boxes that run the gamut from pizza to large transport boxes. Many of brands printed on the boxes were well-known and gave a clue to Pratt's global leadership role in the packaging industry.

Pratt Recycling president Myles Cohen joined the tours lunch to welcome the group and gave a Pratt Industries' overview. As the largest family-owned packaging company, Pratt is an Australian company with North American headquarters at their impressive Conyers campus. Pratt mills use 3,600 tons per day, everyday, of recovered material to produce cardboard made from 100% recycled material for the 44 U.S. box plants. Annually, Pratt recycles 1.5 million tons of material in their mills.

Daniel with Kurt Schmitz of Pratt
Ei Friend Daniel Rickenmann with First Generation Energy joined the tour group at Pratt to share exciting news on his anaerobic digester (AD) plant in the permitting process. With a Conyers site almost contiguous to the Pratt campus, there are abundant synergies at play with Pratt and First Generation. Rumor has it the permit is ready to issue soon!

After lunch the tour group loaded on the bus for the hour drive to the Novelis aluminum recycling plant. Conversation was lively on the bus with Holly updating the partners on the Ei shift-in-process. In 2013 Ei introduced three new platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity. With the past 18 months spent grounding initiatives within the platforms, Holly often says   
Ei is moving from Sustainability in Strategy to Ei's tagline Sustainability in ACTION. 
Upon arrival at the Novelis plant, the tours group was welcomed by the plant operations lead Chris Moore. After security and safety procedures were addressed, Chris and Brook Beadle - Novelis sustainability lead - gave excellent presentations that introduced aluminum recycling practices along with a Novelis business overview.

Group ready for Novelis plant tour
Novelis is the world's largest aluminum recycler with a commitment to reach 80% recycled content in Novelis Aluminum as well as zero waste-to-landfill in operations by 2020. An increase from the current 33% recycled content to 80% will remove 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually from the aluminum value chain.

In primary aluminum production, aluminum is refined from the raw material bauxite - for every ton of aluminum refined from bauxite, two tons of red mud waste are produced. As recycling reduces the use of primary aluminum, Novelis' use of scrap instead of primary prevented 2.5 million metric tons of red mud waste from being generated in the past year. When the 80% recycled content is achieved, Novelis Aluminum will prevent a stupendous amount of red mud waste and GHG emissions production along with significant other by-product impacts. 

Touring an aluminum recycling plant is an eye-opening experience! Safety is first and foremost as the process includes melting the aluminum at high temperatures. Beyond goggles and hats, guests touring the plant wear protective long coats. Guests are formally educated about safety practices prior to entering the plant area.

Ei Ptrs Tom Lembo (CleanRiver),
Louis & Matt Hupp (Keter) @ dinner
Photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
The return bus trip to Atlanta was a grand time! Louis Herrera with Hilex Poly was in-charge of the beer selection and the perfect host for the festive bus ride. In addition to the tours group, several Atlanta Ei pals joined the group for a lovely dinner at Basil's, a quaint locally owned Mediterranean restaurant. Thank you to Pratt for providing the excellent hors d'oeuvres and wine upon arrival.  

On the second day Tim Trefzer, GWCC director of sustainability, welcomed the group to the GWCC - home to the nation's fourth largest convention center, the Georgia Dome where the Atlanta Falcons play, and 20-acre Olympic Centennial Park. After introductions Holly gave further details on work-in-progress along with updates on the powerful Ei cyberspace network built.

Ei Ptrs filled the GWCC
Executive Board Room
Tim gave an excellent presentation on the GWCC sustainability successes along with current projects and future plans. As the Georgia Dome is the SFCI Event Venue Pilot, Tim has a standard slide of recent work with the SFCI Team on post-consumer food waste collection for compost. Throughout his presentation, the close Ei | GWCC working relationship was evident along with its significant impact on existing and under-development programs.

In 2013 the Georgia Dome hosted the Final Four with great success on zero waste, community involvement and overall sustainability fronts. Ei served on the Final Four sustainability committee; it was exciting to witness the lasting impact a major sporting event may have on a facility and the community. 

ATL Ei Partner Tours group
picture on the stadium field
The ZWA Blog article, Final Four green footprints continue after the games, includes a summary of the Final Four's substantial impact before, during and after the games. For in-depth details, the Final Four Sustainability Report is available for download on the Ei Resources page under the Event Recycling section. 

After the formal presentations and discussions, the group toured the GA Dome Club Level food court, intended site for a 2014 season post-consumer food waste collection pilot. In addition, the group toured the GA Dome and GWCC back-of-the-house operations to witness recycling and pre-consumer food waste collection practices in-place. As an added treat, the tours group visited the GA Dome field where the Falcons play.

Michael with Clark Seydel (Chemol
& representing Ei Chair Scott Seydel)
Lunch was provided by SFCI co-chair Doug Kunnemann with NatureWorks across the street at the CNN Center Taco Mac. During lunch, Scott Jenkins - New Falcons Stadium general manager - gave a preview of the stadium plans and how it is designed for sustainability success. The intention is for the New Falcons Stadium to continue as the SFCI Event Pilot when in opens for the 2018 season. Scott, Tim, Doug and Holly meet often to maximize synergies and potentials with the new stadium.

ATL Airport director of asset management & sustainability Michael Cheyne presented to the tours group on the airport sustainability successes, challenges and future directions. As the ATL Airport - the busiest airport in the world - serves as the SFCI Airport Pilot, Ei has a close working relationship with Michael and his team. Liza Milagro joined the airport sustainability department in early 2013 as senior sustainability planner and is a powerful driver for project implementation.

New Ei Partners Ken Fraser &
Sarah Martinez of Eco-Products
The 2011 ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Sustainable Statement, announced the groundbreaking contract provision requiring airport food vendors to use compostable serviceware and consumer-facing packaging under the then new concessionaire contract. With Brenda Platt of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance at the helm, the SFCI Team worked closely with the ATL Airport on the contract provision language and supporting documentation.

The Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet published to provide clear, concise information to airport food vendors on the contract provision along with guidance on how to meet the requirements. The ZWA Blog post, Compostable Packaging Info Packet, announces the packet while the Exemptions | Exclusions Added to Atlanta Airport Info Packet is an overview of a packet revision.

Liza Milagro (ATL) &
Joe Salpietra (Ellis Fibre)
A true pioneer, Michael is taking an industry leadership role in a proactive approach to Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG), a costly by-product of cooking. Approvals are in-process for a campus-wide installation of Grease Lock Filters (GLF)  in airport concessionaires. The proactive AKG approach is staged to reduce airport water usage by an estimated 1.1 million gallons per year while concessionaires save approximately $7,300 annually per location. GLF is an Ei Partner under the Ellis Fibre umbrella.

The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Presents a Proactive Approach to Airborne Kitchen Grease, announces the American Association of Airport Executives' February | March publication Airport Magazine article, AIRBORNE KITCHEN GREASE: A New Frontier in Sustainability, A simple solution saves tremendous water use, labor and dollars, co-written by Michael and Holly.

Ei Program Administrator Melissa
Selem with Tim 
In addition to specific on-campus initiatives, Michael spoke of the ATL Airport's community commitment. The airport understands their tremendous global presence may segue into substantial local influence and contribution.

After Michael's inspiring talk, Holly gave closing remarks and planted fertile seeds for the Fall Ei Partner Tours. It was a powerful two days and partners left filled with enthusiasm for Ei's shift into ACTION mode. With the Falcons' first pre-season game on Friday, August 8 the action plan is in motion with much to accomplish over the next weeks.

The ATL Ei Partner Tours agenda, participant list along with the Novelis and GWCC PPT presentations are available for download on the Ei Partner Tours page. For the tours pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB Album, Atlanta Ei Partner Tours.

... and onward to Ei's tagline, Sustainability in ACTION!