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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution

Full room of attentive attendees
On Thursday, November 20 Elemental Impact  PartnersFriendsStrategic Allies and Advisory Council Members traveled from across the nation to attend the Annual Ei Partner Meeting. It was a powerful day filled with education, updates, camaraderie along with great food and wine. Thank you HLB Gross Collins for providing the perfect venue for the meeting and reception.

Ei Chair Scott Seydel opened the meeting with a warm welcome and a reminder the meeting follows the Chatham House Rule. Following introductions, Ei founder Holly Elmore gave the Annual Ei Year in Review presentation. In her opening slide, Holly summarized the past and current years as follows:
2012: Year of Accomplishments | Completions - in late 2012 the Zero Waste Zones were sold to the National Restaurant Association catapulting Ei into a major metamorphosis.The ZWA Blog article, The NRA Acquires ZWZ, announces the monumental acquisition.
2013: Year of Transitions | Introductions - until fall 2013 Ei flowed within the metamorphosis stage. As the year drew to a close, the three-platforms approach for Ei initiatives emerged. The IMPACT Blog, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduced the three platforms: Water Use | Toxicity, Recycling Refinement and Product Stewardship.
2014: Year of Foundations | Evolutions - in 2014 the platforms were grounded with initiative launches and supporting taglines.
Within her presentation, Holly gave an overview of each platform, initiative launches and future plans. In addition, Holly's presentation gave a road map of the action-packed meeting agenda. The following recaps the meeting presentations in a three-platform format.

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

Ei Chair Scott Seydel with
Chuck Riegle of Tomra
The water footprint is as or even more important than the carbon footprint. Global warming garners the headlines using the carbon footprint as the accepted sustainability measurement tool. Ei intends to bring the water footprint to center stage through the Water Use | Toxicity platform.
In the ZWA Blog post, Zero WATER Waste: more than a goal, a necessity, the foundation for Ei’s Water Use | Toxicity Platform is established.

In alignment with one of Ei’s mantras: If it was easy, it would already be done, the Ei Team explores areas of corporate water consumption where technologies exist to reduce or eliminate the water usage. Equipment investment must be offset by water cost-savings with a reasonable ROI – return on investment.

The initial focus is on water reduction in areas where the “spent water” released into sewer systems or other waterways is laden with toxic chemicals. Thus, water use and toxicity are addressed in unison.

During the platform intro, Holly mentioned her personal passion for revitalizing the water & soil microbial community back into a healthy, active and balanced state. The toxins released into the sewer systems, waterways and the soil are staged for 2015 | 2016 initiative groundwork.

Holly & Wayne at the
post-meeting reception
Ei Advisory Council member Wayne King of ERTH Products announced the Food &  Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) issued a proclamation of the International Year of Soils 2015. Ei Strategic Ally U.S. Composting Council works closely with the FAO on activities to celebrate the Year of Soils along with implementing long-lasting programs that heal | rejuvenate soils.
With the re-activation of GREASE - Grease Recycling & Energy Alternative Solutions for the Environment, Ei takes first action steps in Water Use | Toxicity with a focus on three types of kitchen-generated grease:
  • Spent Grease - used grease from fryers, often referred to as yellow grease; addressed in 2010 with respect to ZWZ participation criteria.
  • Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG) - grease accumulated in the exhaust system from kitchen operations; prime 2014 focus.
  • F.O.G. - Fats, Oils & Grease - grease collected from grease traps, often referred to as brown grease; staged for 2015 focus.

Joe & Holly @ post-mtg dinner
In the afternoon Ei Sustainer Joe Salpietra with Ellis Fibre | Grease Lock Filters (GLF) gave an impressive update on the strong Ei | GLF partnership. GLF is the foundation for Ei's Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG), a proactive approach to a costly cooking byproduct, initiative.

The short GLF Intro Video gives a quick overview of the disposable filter system including the significant water, labor and cost-savings via capturing the AKG before it enters the kitchen exhaust system.

In his presentation, Joe's A Winning Combination slide details Ei partner benefits within three categories:
  • Great Networking with fellow Ei Partners, health departments, fire departments, foodservice operators and awareness with local, state & federal government agencies
  • Great Assistance with global awareness via blog articles, corporate introductions, meeting attendance, social media and networking.
  • Great Results with national contracts, campus-wide GLF installation at the Atlanta Airport (ATL) and tremendous potential water savings.
When fully implemented, the Atlanta Airport (ATL) campus-wide GLF installation is estimated to save the airport 1.1 million gallons of water annually. ATL serves as an industry leader and the catalyst for the metro Atlanta foodservice operators to address AKG in a proactive manner.
In Georgia alone the potential annual water-savings by foodservice operators using the GLF system is 168 million gallons. Remember this is toxic cleaning chemical laden water-savings.
Next on the Water Use | Toxicity agenda is water-savings in cooling tower systems via WCTI's simple, effective and patented technology. Verizon, Microsoft, Boeing (to name a few) use the WCTI system in their data center cooling towers and enjoy the associated water and cost-savings. The potential water-savings at ATL with the WCTI system is 15 -16 million gallons annually. Ei Supporter Jim Harrell of Renaissance Technologies gave a quick WCTI overview via a call out. 
Recycling RefinementMoving beyond landfill diversion

Until recently zero waste measurement was in diversion rates from the landfill without consideration of the final destination. Single-stream recycling, often the only recycling option available, results in material contamination and a high percentage of recyclable items landfill destined. Note effective single-stream MRF – material recovery facilities – separation is limited by the contamination in the delivered material.
Louis Herrera ( Hilex Poly) &
Doug Kunnemann (NW)
Within Recycling Refinement, the focus is on Total Material Management where the entire waste | recycling stream is addressed within one revenue | cost center. The stated goal is true zero waste with a strong focus on ultimate material destination and the remaining "trash" within the steam. Materials with strong end markets (e.g. aluminum, mixed paper, certain plastics) subsidize more challenging streams generated in operations. Food waste is a challenging material stream.
Back-of-the-house (pre-consumer) food waste industry practices were perfected by early zero waste pioneers. Front-of-the-house (post-consumer) food waste remains a recycling frontier for two main reasons: 1> necessary shift in consumer-facing packaging to create clean food waste streams and 2> consumer responsibility for food waste disposal. 
The morning session concluded with a three-presenter Sustainable Food Court Initiative update and educational presentations moderated by SFCI Co-Chair Doug Kunneman of NatureWorks (NW). Within his introductions, Doug gave a thorough update on SFCI successes along with the history leading to recent accomplishments.
Tim with GWCC executives
showing the LEED placque
Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) director of sustainability Tim Trefzer gave an impressive presentation on the GWCC's Road to LEED Certification. Tim distributed infomercial cards chronicling the nine-year journey to the monumental achievement along with the impressive campus programs initiated. 
The GWCC is the World's Largest LEED Certified Convention Center
The ZWA Blog article, GWCC LEED Certification Showcases Sustainability Leadership, details the certification journey along with the strong Ei | GWCC long-standing partnership. Note the Georgia Dome, one of four facilities under the GWCCA umbrella, serves as the SFCI - Event Venue Pilot.
In 2011 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) - the busiest airport in the world - joined Ei as the SFCI - Airport PilotWith impeccable timing, the ATL was in the midst of the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the entire airport foodservice operations. Michael Cheyne, ATL director of asset management & sustainability, made the bold, courageous and successful move to include the following provision in the RFP: 
Concessionaire shall use compostable serviceware along with consumer facing packaging and source separate all food service wastes for direct transport to off airport composting facilities.
The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport Makes a Bold Sustainable Statement, announced the groundbreaking compostable packaging provision in the ten-year airport concessionaire contracts. During the 18-month contract implementation time frame, concessionaires were operating in a grace period for complying with the contract provision. 

Vendor Fair sign in
ATL atrium
With the contract roll-out period complete, ATL is activating the compostable packaging contract provision. In spring 2013, Liza Milagro joined the ATL team as zero waste coordinator and later was promoted to senior sustainability planner. Liza is responsible for activating the ATL compostable packaging contract provision.

On October 22, ATL hosted the greeningATL SFCI Vendor Fair to facilitate program roll-out assistance. Well attended by concessionaires, the fair's vendors educated operators on the ample packaging options available to meet the contract provision. Ei Partners Ken Fraser of EcoProducts and Rick Lombardo of NaturBag represented the SFCI Team at the vendor fair - thanks!

During her presentation, Liza announced the contract provision grace period ends with a tiered approach:  
  • January 15, 2015, for non-branded food and beverage packaging
  • Summer 2015, for branded food and beverage packaging to allow for printing conversion
The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport's Leadership Role in Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging, gives a detailed history of the compostable packaging provision culminating in the SFCI Vendor Fair.

After a synopsis of the Ei | ATL partnership and history of the contract provision, Doug introduced Liza for an update on ATL's sustainability achievements and future plans. The GLF campus-wide installation and the compostable contract provision were prominent in Liza's presentation.

Ken & Rick with Liza at the
SFCI Vendor Fair
Under new leadership, ATL announced a powerful goal: greenest airport in the world. On her Policies Create Change slide, Liza listed the following ATL policies recently or soon-to-be-issued: Sustainability, Zero Waste, Climate Action, and Green Infrastructure.

As he concluded the session, Doug announced post-consumer food waste is the 2014 | 2015 SFCI stated focus. Integral to post-consumer food waste is food & beverage packaging and contaminants within the food waste stream. The ZWA Blog article, SFCI targets post-consumer food waste, announced the focus along with SFCI Pilot updates.

BPI-Certified compostable food & beverage packaging decompose in windrow or covered aerated static pile composting systems within the applicable American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) Standards. However, the ASTM Standards & BPI Certification criteria do not address how compostable packaging fares through anaerobic digesters (AD).

Steve during his presentation
photo courtesy of Melissa Selem
Doug introduced Steve Davies, NW director public affairs, who presented Perspective: Bioplastics & Anaerobic Digestion. After a brief overview of bioplastics, Steve gave a detailed AD introduction in three areas: overview of the landscape, the basics, and system types & how bioplastics integrate. 

As an industry leader, NW is committed to driving public policy, legislation and facilitating food waste systems that benefit the entire value stream, including the soil and energy resources. 

Ei Partner HMSHost is an industry leader willing to pioneer new sustainable operating practices that ground into standard practices. Devon Ray, HMSHost senior contracting manager, presented on HMSHost's sustainability commitment, successes and future plans. 

Within her presentation, Devon noted ATL HMSHost operations anticipate $48.000 in cost-savings due to GLF installations in concession outlets with kitchen exhaust systems. The HMSHost Las Vegas operations are next in line for GLF installation; a national installation rollout is in the planning stages.

Milk jug bale
In a later session, Holly credited the 2011 ATL HMSHost milk jug recycling program as the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template (S-SMRT) initial catalyst. The ZWA Blog article, Milk Jugs Recycled at the Atlanta Airport, gives an overview of the catalytic program.

The HMSHost presentation was the perfect segue to the two Charlotte-oriented presentations. Concord Mills (CM) serves at the SFCI - Shopping Mall Pilot; HMSHost operates the CM food court under a concessions lease.

Kim Charick, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IV environmental scientist, educated the Ei Partners on the EPA Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) and the Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte Grant to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). Ei is a subgrantee on the grant via a contract with the SPC.

Ei introduces Kim to the
GWCC team re: FRC
The ZWA Blog article, EPA Food Recovery Challenge: Region IV launches FRC in hospitality sector, gives a program overview; the Ei Joins the EPA Food Recovery Challenge article details Ei's role in the program launch.

Throughout the annual meeting, Holly explained how the EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte Grant influenced and contributed to Ei initiatives underway. 

The grant was the catalyst for the SPC joining the Ei Strategic Ally program via a formal Memorandum of Understanding. In addition, the grant team Charlotte visits spawned Ei work complementary to the grant. The ZWA Blog article, Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC, details the grant goal, objectives and tasks.

Grant Team during composting tour
at Earth Farms 
In March the grant team visited Charlotte for an action-packed agenda filled with meetings, tours and strategy sessions. The ZWA Blog article, Charlotte focuses on food waste with EPA grant support, is a recap of the excellent visit. 

Kim ended her presentation by announcing the grant was extended another year WITH additional funds!

With Mecklenburg County Government (MCG) a grant partner, Kim's grant presentation flowed into the introduction to Laurette Hall, MCG environmental manager, waste reduction. The strong Ei | Charlotte | MCG relationship was evident in PPT slides leading up to Laurette's podium time. It was an honor Laurette accepted the invitation to attend and speak at the annual meeting.

Sarah, Laurette & Kim at the
Wallace Farms composting tour
Zero waste successes and opportunities were intertwined within Laurette's MCG overview | waste reduction commitment. The goal is to create pilots within Ei initiatives focused on material management and beyond in the Charlotte metro area. 

In July the Ei Team invested in a Charlotte visit to explore opportunities and strategize on next steps. The ZWA Blog article, Ei Charlotte Visit: Busy, Productive & FUN!, chronicles the visit. During the total eight-hour drive time, the SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - was formed, website copy written and Ei Partner Sarah Martell of Innovia Films named Chair.

... and Sarah was next on the agenda to introduce SMAT! With ACTION a key word in SMAT, Sarah's presentation included photos from the Charlotte visit along with SFCI - ATL and SFCI - GA Dome tours. The entire SMAT membership attended the meeting! 

SMAT Members:
  • Sarah Martell, Innovia Films - Chair
  • Wendell Simonson, EcoProducts
  • Rick Lombardo, NaturBags
  • Grant Braasch, NatureWorks (Doug represented Grant at the meeting)
  • Kim Charick, EPA Region IV
SMAT members Rick Lombardo,
Ken Fraser & Wendell Simonson
@ the reception
The overriding purpose of SMAT is to provide materials expertise to support the SFCI Pilots, S-SMRT, the EPA grant and other Ei initiatives within the Recycling Refinement platform. Future action plans include:
  • Post-consumer food waste collection white paper focused on industry best practices in the following areas: sorting stations & signage, staff training, educational materials and engagement.
  • Boulder Ei Partner Tours slated for late spring | summer sponsored by SMAT members.
Following the SMAT introduction, Holly took the podium to educate the Ei Partners on the S-SMRT and the Atlanta city-wide pilot. S-SMRT epitomizes one of the common phrases Holly uses in speaking engagements:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

In simplistic terms, S-SMRT encompasses the Total Material Management approach discussed above with the following steps:

  • Generators source-separate material on-site and compact into mini bales.
  • Hauler collects bales to transport to the recycling center.
  • Recycling center associates tract material received by type | generator, re-bale into standard sized bales, and store in a tractor trailer by material type until full.
  • Hauler sells material directly to a manufacturing | recycling end destination and pays rebates to generators based on their respective percentage of the load sold.
  • Ei oversees the system to ensure the entire value chain makes a reasonable profit.
Financial template success is grounded in two factors: CLEAN MATERIAL & VOLUME. The template tagline is:

Contamination is a Mistake!

Ei Partner M-PASS Environmental serves as the S-SMRT hauler and intends to create a turnkey option for the next tier of template pioneers. With M-PASS associates baling the material there is strong control over the quality of material sent to the recycling center.

Louis Herrera educating Matt
Hupp on plastic film @ CM
Since the beginning, Ei did not support single-stream recycling and wrote numerous blog articles in favor of source-separation. A most effective ZWA Blog article, Single-Stream Recycling: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, was based on an EPA webinar with the same title.

As mentioned above, the first S-SMRT step was the ATL HMSHost milk jug recycling pilot. In 2012, the SFCI - CM launched the first shopping mall plastic film recycling pilot; the second step in the template foundation. Ei Partner Louis Herrera of Hilex Poly served as the visionary and plastic film educator during the pilot development.

The ZWA Blog article, ACTION: Theme for the SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, announces the plastic film recycling pilot. Note Jake Wilson, one of Laurette's lead MCG managers, was prominent throughout the year plus planning for the launch.

The third significant template step was the Fresh Point ATL (FPA) plastic film recycling pilot. In the ZWA Blog article, Plastic Film Recycling: A New Frontier, the plastic film recycling history, facts and the FPA pilot were detailed. Ei's first directed video, Ei Plastic Film Recycling Pilot at FreshPoint ATL, debuted in the ZWA Blog article, Plastic Film Recycling Template Video Published.

When the GWCC joined the S-SMRT in spring 2014, the template immediately expanded beyond plastic film to total materials - a HUGE fourth step in template development. 

The June Atlanta Ei Partner Tours were designed as a two-day experiential strategy session for template development. Local end market destinations Novelis and Pratt Industries hosted the first tours day. Ei Partner Novelis - the world's largest aluminum manufacturer - has an aluminum recycling plant less than 100 miles from Atlanta.

Ei Partners ready to tour
the Novelis recycling plant
On the second day tours day Tim welcomed the Ei Partners to the GWCC for a presentation of successes to date, including the 2013 "Greenest" Final Four hosted at the GA Dome, along with a back-of-house tour of recycling practices in-place. Michael Cheyne and Scott Jenkins, New Falcons Stadium general manager, joined the lunch hosted by NW and gave invigorating updates.

The IMPACT Blog article, Atlanta Ei Partner Tours, chronicles the powerful tours.

Novelis is the Atlanta Falcons recycling partner and key to S-SMRT success. Brooke Beadle, Novelis senior sustainability manager, shared the frustrations of contamination within material baled from single-stream MRF - material recovery facilities. With their ambitious 80% recycled content goal, Novelis is "hungry" for aluminum that meets their quality standards.

The VERY first aluminum
baled at the GWCC
With clean material addressed, the volume is achieved through expanding template pioneers to a second tier, followed by additional tiers. Cindy Jackson, Georgia Tech recycling & waste director, attended her second annual meeting and is ready for the template business case. 

Ei Partner Keter Environmental Services holds the waste & recycling contracts for three Class A Atlanta malls. The intent is for the three malls to join the S-SMRT as template pioneers in early 2015.

Invitations to additional template pioneers - all prominent industry leaders - are slated for early 2015.

Much of the above copy was intertwined within Holly's Ei Overview presentation and introductions to other presenters.

Continuing with the Ei Evolution theme, the US Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) | Ei partnership evolved over the years into a significant industry force. Holly summarized the evolution in her presentation as follows:
Holly, Melissa, Stephanie &
Emily at the 2014 USZWBC 
In her presentation, USZWBC founder & executive director Stephanie Barger gave an impressive synopsis of the USZWBC growth in influence and effective action. Founded in 2012, the USZWBC mission is to create a solid foundation that advances the integrity and credibility of Zero Waste. To support the mission the USZWBC provides tools for business to excel in their Zero Waste policies and practices.

Since launching the Zero Waste Certification Program in 2013 three facilities received Platinum level, three Gold level and 10 Bronze level certifications. In addition, over 150 individuals attended Zero Waste Business Associate Training Courses hosted at four locations. 

Stephanie announced the May 2015 USZWBC Conference - The Stars of Zero Waste  - hosted by the City of Los Angeles. BIG NEWS: Ei is the 2015 USZWBC Media Partner!

Zero waste success requires team effort among associates within an organization, the supply chain and third party contractors, such as landlords | tenants, janitorial services and waste | recycling services. For third party contractors legal contract provisions are key to ensuring effective results are achieved.

As the New Falcons Stadium RFPs are issued zero waste-oriented provisions are standard. According to general manager Scott Jenkins:

"Contract language is a key element that sets the appropriate expectations of all parties involved in any zero waste initiative. Zero waste is a team effort that requires every party to be on the same page."
Ei Board Members
Pauline Reynolds & Greg Chafee
Ei General Counsel Greg Chafee of Thompson Hine gave an excellent presentation on Legal Provisions Role in Sustainability Success. Although the current focus is in the Recycling Refinement arena, Greg was clear legal provisions play a vital role throughout the entire sustainability realm.
Via the ATL compostable packaging contract provision discussed earlier, Ei is an established leader in contractual support for industry pioneers.
As he concluded his session, Greg announced an in-process industry paper dedicated to legal provisions role in sustainability success. The ZWA Blog article, Contract provisions provide necessary team work for zero waste success, provides the background for the paper.
Product Stewardshipintegrity throughout the entire value chain
The Product Stewardship foundation is building within the current Recycling Refinement initiatives. Anticipated first action steps are in late 2015. In her Ei overview presentation, Holly noted the following building blocks for future projects:
  • Engage the power of consumer demand
  • Work in partnership with the supply chain
  • "Trash" within the supply chain will be clear once the S-SMRT is activated and replicated

For the final formal session, Melissa Selem presented on Ei ROCKS! 2014 Achievements, Awards & Milestones. Integral to Ei's Foundation | Evolution year was a plethora of milestones, awards and achievements.
Holly on stage receiving the
Green Ribbon Award
In cyberspace, the combined Ei Blogs - The IMPACT & The Zero Waste in ACTION - surpassed 225,000 pageviews. The most popular article, Reduce First, Donate Second, Compost Third, topped 10,000 pageviews - IMPRESSIVE stats!
In 2014 Ei received national recognition with the 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-authored by Holly & Michael Cheyne. The ZWA article, Atlanta Airport Presents a Proactive Approach to Airborne Kitchen Grease, presents the article publication.
Holly received local and national awards in recognition of Ei's important industry work. At the 2014 USZWBC Conference, Holly was honored with the Zero Heroes 2014 Zero Waste Promoter of the Year. In the fall the Atlanta Les Dames d'Escoffier International awarded Holly the Green Ribbon Recipient for work dating back to the Green FoodService Alliance days through current Ei projects.
Joe Salpietra & Jim Harrell with
one of the large photo prints
Lamba Alpha International, a honorary society for the advancement of land economics, inducted Holly into membership re: in recognition of a successful career in the foodservice industry and your work to develop and implement best practices in the food industry. Wayne King and Kim Charick are accepted for membership from Holly's recent nomination.
The meeting concluded with an unveiling of the first large prints of Holly's photographs. Each attendee was gifted a small photo print in the home-baked sweet treat bags prepared by Holly.
In true Ei style, the meeting segued into a lovely wine & cheese reception at the meeting site. Dinner followed at Portofino, a locally owned bistro with superb cuisine.
Holly & Melissa at the meeting
Dinner was the perfect time to reunite with Melissa Selem, who left her Ei program administrator position in June for new life adventures. THANK YOU Melissa for returning to Ei on a project basis - the meeting flowed with perfection due to your excellent work!
The Ei FB album, 2014 Ei Annual Meeting, is a pictorial recap of the monumental day. PPT presentations are available for download on the Ei Meetings & Events page.
With the Year of Foundations | Evolutions coming to a close, the Ei Team is excited to enter the Year of ACTION! Stay tuned ...