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Monday, November 30, 2015

Alternative Energy: embracing the creative spirit!

National Geographic Channel invited The IMPACT Blog to join a virtual discussion on the exciting progress in the field of alternative energy. This conversation ties into the upcoming new episode, "Breakthrough: Energy on the Edge" premiering Sunday, December 6, at 9 pm ET on the National Geographic Channel.

The discussion is centered on the following question:
Do you think that by tapping into the new alternative energy sources we can reverse most of the damage we have done to our environment?
As the Zero Waste in ACTION (ZWA) Blog was also invited to join the discussion, Elemental Impact used a point-counterpoint approach to answering the question on alternative energy.

After watching the excellent documentary on alternative energy or "new ways to spin the wheel", Ei was most impressed with the tremendous strides in energy technology along with the significant investments in pilot programs.

energy with tornado & lighening
photo credit:
The ZWA Blog article, Alternative Energy: creating solutions or potential disasters?, addressed the long-term implications of technologies developed within an "energy tunnel" without regard for their far-reaching implications.

For the counterpoint, The IMPACT Blog article celebrates the creative spirit!

As documented in the ZWA Blog article, Ei is not optimistic regarding the featured alternative energy resources. Yet the creative spirit enveloped within the research will eventually discover a mosaic of solutions designed to reverse the damage inflicted upon the environment.

Louis w/ his AVG
photo credit:
Louis Michaud, a retired ExxonMobil engineer, set out to harness the tremendous energy in a tornado's vortex. Rather than chase dangerous tornadoes, Louis built his first tornado simulator, the Atmospheric Vortex Generator (AVG), in his garage. The AVG came to life at Lambton College via grant funding. Unfortunately, the AVG scaled for regional power generation would cost an estimated $1 billion.

The documentary theme "new ways to spin the wheels" refers to the generation of electricity by spinning wheels between two magnets. As the documentary nears closing the host states "it is up to everyone to keep the wheels spinning."

... but are wheels necessary for the next generation of alternative energy? To date, the focus is on energy generation; Louis was the sole genius understanding energy exists in nature and set out to harness the electricity at a tornado vortex. Yet Louis fell into the practicality of generating versus harnessing electricity.

Fossil fuels are the remnants from past civilizations, whether in the plant, animal or human kingdoms. Could it be we are merely cleansing the Earth of its past so we may move into another life dimension? Fossil fuels must be burned to "spin the wheels" to generate electricity. With the depletion of fossil fuels, the Earth is freed of "waste from past life" and ready to embrace cleaner, evolved life.

Natural electricity is prevalent in everyday phenomena from tornadoes, thunder storms, electromagnetic fields and the human body.

Is it time to break patterns and understand life as we know it must change for humanity to survive on the Earth? Soon the creative spirit will embrace those shifting their focus to harnessing energy, versus generating electricty. By its pure nature, harnessed energy is clean energy, without the by-products of electricity generation.

clear crystal quartz
photo credit:
Remember clear crystal quartz (silicone dioxide) conducts energy and can be programmed. A Universal Law is "like energy attracts like energy." Harnessing energy may be as simple as identifying Dragon Lines (similar to the Lei Lines, the electromagnetic fields integral to maintaining the Earth's polarity balance), determining their vibration rate, tuning a crystal quartz to the same vibration rate, and collecting the raw energy directly from the Dragon Line. The challenge is diffusing the powerful energy into a useful state.

Breakthrough: Energy on the Edge ends with a profound statement:

We must explore our limits of imagination; find new ways to tap energy all around us.

hmmm.... sounds similar to harnessing energy!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ei 2015: A Year of ACTION

Scott Jenkins presenting to
a full room
On Thursday, November 19 Elemental Impact Partners, Friends, Strategic 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.

Meeting moderator Suzanne Burnes with Collective Wisdom Group opened the meeting with a logistics overview. From travels in India, Ei Chair Scott Seydel welcomed the Ei Family via video including a reminder the meeting follows the Chatham House Rule. After 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 (ZWZ) 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: Product StewardshipRecycling Refinement and Water Use | Toxicity.
2014: Year of Foundations | Evolutions - in 2014 the platforms were grounded with initiative launches and supporting taglines.
2015: Year of ACTION - in 2015 Ei lived up to its tagline: Sustainability in ACTION!
Within her presentation, Holly gave an overview of each platform, action within the platform and future plans. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution, gives an in-depth history of each platform foundation and serves as the 2014 Annual Ei Partner Meeting overview.

In addition, Holly's presentation gave a road map of the action-packed meeting agenda. 

Arthur during his presentation
First on the program was Green Seal (GS) CEO & President Arthur Weissman who gave a GS overview, with a focus on the hospitality programs launched in Chicago & Los Angeles. In Chicago, the GS program is restaurant-oriented while the Los Angeles program is hotel-oriented. The final slide was Holly's favorite: Green Hospitality in Atlanta

The audience was enthusiastic with many questions about the GS Hospitality Standards and how the GS program could augment Atlanta's strong zero waste history. There are several GS Certified Hotels in Atlanta to serve as leaders. 

In addition, Ted's Montana Grill, the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) Georgia Tech (GT) and Affairs to Remember Caterers - all ZWZ Pioneers - associates at the meeting were enthusiastic to once again enter the sustainability frontier, as they did with the 2009 ZWZ Launch. City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Sustainability Zero Waste Manager Boyd Leake was impressed and eager to explore the City's role in a potential Atlanta GS Hospitality Program.

Throughout the day, Arthur was an active meeting participant sharing his vast wisdom and expertise to vibrant dialogue on many subjects. As an Ei Strategic Ally, GS brings in-depth expertise from their 26 years certifying green products | services to the recent Ei Water Use | Toxicity Initiative announcements.

Cooling tower
Next on the agenda Ei Supporter Jim Harrell, Renaissance Technology president, announced the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative, grounded in Water Conservation Technology International (WCTI) systems. In his presentation, Jim explained the cooling tower blowdown process and its tremendous water usage along with toxic chemical agents.

Cooling towers water must be treated to prevent corrosion, scale and bio-fouling. Standard industry practices use toxic chemicals to treat the cooling tower water. Due to evaporation, the chemical balance becomes too concentrated and the remaining water is released into the sewer system via the blowdown process. 

The Water Conservation Technology International system uses "nature's way" by removing all of the hardness in source water. Eliminating hardness prevents scale. As the water cycles up, sodium silicate naturally forms and the high pH creates a biostatic condition in the tower water. 

RESULTS: no scale build-up along with effective control of corrosion and biological growth.Thus, the use of chemical additives and "blowdown" are eliminated, tremendous water is saved and water laden with toxic chemical additives is no longer released into the sewer system.

Introduced in 2004, WCTI has a proven track record with prominent clients including Apple, Verizon, Microsoft, Boeing and Universal Studios.The ROI (return on investment) generally runs between six months to two years.

Via an Ei introduction, ATL is in the WCTI assessment process for the 2017 FY Budget, beginning July 1, 2016. If installed, ATL is staged to save an estimated 7 - 10 million gallons of water annually. The intent is for ATL to serve as a Lead Pioneer in the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative along with formal City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability support.

AKG accumulation in kitchen
exhaust system ducts
Keeping within the Water | Use Toxicity Platform, Ei Sustainer Jordan Salpietra with Grease Lock Filters (GLF), announced the Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG) Initiative with a formal action plan. At prior Annual Ei Partner Meetings, the GLF system was introduced along with the campus-wide ATL installation approval. Ei Partner HMSHost approved a national GLF contract for their prominent airport and turnpike service center network.

With foodservice operator cost-savings well established, Jordan's presentation focused on how the current reactive kitchen exhaust system cleaning practices cause the accumulated grease to flow into the sewer system. A typical cleaning uses 350 - 500 gallons of water along with toxic cleaning agents to remove the grease. The greasy, toxic water is flushed down a kitchen drain, exceeding the grease interceptor | grease trap velocity flow by 12 times. Thus, the water flows directly into the sewer system where it congeals causing expensive maintenance.

In his presentation closing, Jordan outlines the Ei AKG Initiative action plan's four stages:

Stage 1 is complete; the current focus is on building a city-wide AKG template. With Atlanta slated to serve as the Ei AKG Initiative Pilot City, the City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability issued the following Statement of Support:
The City of Atlanta, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is pleased to support the Elemental Impact Airborne Kitchen Grease Initiative. Grease that is flushed into Atlanta’s sewer system creates significant harm to the City’s sewer pipes, wastewater system and treatment facilities, potentially leading to millions of dollars in equipment damage. In addition, airborne kitchen grease contributes significantly to the number of calls that the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department responds to each year.
The Zero Waste in ACTION (ZWA) Blog article, Ei Airborne Kitchen Grease Initiative, announces the initiative along with an overview of the four-stage plan.

Closing the morning session, ATL Facilities Director John Means presented on the sustainability initiatives at the busiest airport in the world. To give the Ei Partners a perspective on the magnitude of ATL's impact, John shared the following facts:
John during his presentation
  • Buildings - 8,500,000 sq. ft. valued at over $4.6 billion
  • Land - Over 4,700 acres
  • 2,500 flights per day
  • 9 miles of runways
  • 37 miles of sewer pipes
  • 30,000 parking spaces
  • 96 Million passengers/year
  • 63,000 employees
  • 650,000 tons of cargo
  • $32.5 Million impact on City of Atlanta
In 2014, ATL replaced all runway lights with LED Light resulting in $15,750 per month savings or 45.6% (177,670 kwh/mth vs. 389,400 kwh/mth) and less maintenance. Within a couple months of the LED implementation, Georgia Power visited ATL to research the dramatic electricity usage drop.

John included the Ei AKG Initiative within the ATL Sustainability Successes. Once the GLF installations are complete, ATL will save an estimated 1.1 million gallons of water and prevent 45,000 pounds of grease from flowing into their sewer system. In addition, the Ei AKG Initiative prevents expensive roof damage and significantly increases fire safety.

Chef Donald 
As Chef Donald Stone of Chef D Cuisine set the amazing lunch buffet, Holly explained the contents of the homemade sweet 'n savory gift bags: dessert box with Holly's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie, cranberry port oatmeal bar & triple ginger sparkler cookie, mini pumpkin bread loaf, small bag of spiced pecans, and mint pesto. An added bonus was a sampling of Holly's first printed photo note cards from her nature photography. ... and the note card paper is GS certified!

After lunch the program resumed with a series of industry updates as call outs and presentations. Mercedes-Benz Stadium General Manager and Green Sports Alliance (GSA) Chair Scott Jenkins gave a dual presentation. Starting with an update on the stadium's journey to Platinum LEED certification, Scott finished with the GSA's impressive growth and impact. The GSA boasts 300 professional | collegiate teams & venues members from 20 leagues in 14 countries.

In her presentation, U.S. Zero Business Council (USZWBC) Executive Director Stephanie Barger updated on their Zero Waste Business Facility Certification (ZWBFC) success since its March 2013 launch. The ZWA Blog article, Third Party Certification Edges Industry Towards a Zero Waste Economy, introduces the certification program along with detailed parameters; the Zero Waste: breaking down myths & establishing standards article features the ZWBFCs imperative industry role.

Stephanie during her
Stephanie emphasized the powerful USZWBC | Ei partnership; Ei is the National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) Official Media Sponsor and serves as the USZWBC Media Partner.The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste Makes Good Business Sense, is an overview of Ei's prominent role at the 2015 NZWBC hosted in downtown Los Angeles.

As the USZWBC Media Partner, Ei published 17 ZWA Blog articles to date. A true partner, the USZWBC actively promotes article readership within their network. With two exceptions, each article exceeds the blog average 680 pageviews; 7 articles exceed 1,000 pageviews!

The 5th Annual NZWBC - Tuning Into Zero Waste - is June 1 - 4 hosted in Austin, Texas.

Ei Partner Rick Lombardo with NaturBag gave the SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - update. At the request of GWCC Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer, SMAT members crafted a two-hour Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session for Levy Restaurants. Note Levy Restaurants has the foodservice contracts for the GWCC, Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, Philips Arena and the under-construction Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The ZWA Blog article, Compostable Packaging: integral to zero waste programs and soil rebuilding, recaps the well-attended session.

In late summer, the World Chefs Association invited Ei to prepare the Waste | Recycling curriculum for their new Sustainability Course designed for international culinary schools. SMAT members researched and prepared the 50+ slide PPT presentation along with talking points, instructor notes and a glossary. The Sustainability Course pilot is set for first quarter 2016 with an international roll-out in the second or third quarter.

SMAT provided support for the zero food waste journeys at RayDay and Afternoon in the Country annual events. A late afternoon session covers the journeys in detail. Rick represented SMAT at the 2015 NZWBC in May on the Source-Separation Maximizes Material Value panel moderated by Holly. Tim also presented on the panel.

Kim & Tim @ reception
As a sub-grantee under the EPA Scaling Up Composting in Charlotte, NC Grant to Ei Strategic Ally GreenBlue | Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), Ei traveled to Charlotte three times in 2015 for grant-related work. SMAT members were the support arm for Ei's grant work.

Kim Charick with EPA Region 4 gave an excellent synopsis of the SPC EPA Grant with an emphasis on Ei's contributions. Within her presentation, Kim included many photos from the five 2014 | 2015 Charlotte visits. The following ZWA Blog articles chronicle the grant work | successes:

Next Tim presented on Positioning for Zero Waste: Source-Separated Materials & Sustainable Packaging featuring the GWCC | Ei close, long-term relationship. In his presentation, Tim reviewed work with Ei over the past several years leading up to their post-consumer food waste pilot at the Georgia Dome Club Level. For various reasons, the Source-Separate Materials Recycling Template Pilot is in a holding pattern with intentions to reignite work in mid-to-late 2016.

Tim emphasized the importance of the Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session to creating a clean post-consumer food waste stream. Southern Roots, the new GWCC zero waste restaurant, is doing well and uses a three-bin waste station: recycling, food waste & landfill. Key to GWCC success is viewing waste as a resource.

Paula Owens
As an informal callout, Paula Owens, TMG purchasing and sustainability manager, gave an overview of the TMG Sustainability Commitment, with an emphasis on water conservation. Water-efficient toilets and waterless urinals in TMG restaurants save more than 40,000 gallons of water each year. Dining tables are covered with recycled brown butcher paper, which reduces detergent water waste in commercial laundry operations.

To complement the in-house water-saving practices, TMG partnered with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) via  investment in Water Restoration Certificates® (WRC). Through the WRC purchases, TMG helped restore 5+ million gallons of water to critically dewatered Colorado Basin tributaries. Additionally, the water restoration directly supported the local recreation-based economy and the needs of fish and wildlife during severe drought.

Travis with his camera @ AITC
ATR Director of Communications Travis Taylor shared the stellar ATR sustainability success story. As the first ZWZ Off-Premise Caterer, ATR surpassed the million pounds of material diverted from the landfill milestone in 2014. The ZWA Blog article, ... and the journey began with a delicious divorce from the landfill!, announces the City of Atlanta's proclamation of November 11, 2014 as "Affairs to Remember Day" in recognition of the material diversion milestone and gives an overview of ATR's sustainability platform.

Sustainable best operating practices make good business sense for ATR. In addition to cost-savings, over $400,000 of revenue is a direct result of the ATR sustainability platform, formally named Legacy Green.

Cindy Jackson, GT Waste | Recycling Director, is an industry powerhouse who never succumbed to single-stream recycling on the prominent university campus. WHY? According to Cindy, her award-winning recycling program improves the GT bottom line and maintains a culture of respecting valuable material. As always, Cindy asked pertinent questions during presentations and added valuable insight to discussions. Holly refers to Cindy as " The AMAZING Cindy Jackson!" - a truthful statement!

With state permits in-place, First Generation is ready to break ground on an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Conyers, just over 20 miles from downtown Atlanta. By late summer 2016, the AD plant will serve as a food waste destination for metro Atlanta. Approximately 50% of the capacity is pre-committed by commercial food plants. Ei Partner M-PASS Environmental will fill the remaining capacity with foodservice industry food waste collection. M-PASS Technical Services Manager Chris Cummings, along with Holly, gave the First Generation update.

Andrew Lantz
Keter Environmental Services Regional Manager Andrew Lantz gave a quick overview of Keter's impressive expansion of mall recycling | waste management contracts. With plastic film recycling and food waste diversion Keter's two top priorities, Keter uses their sustainability commitment as a competitive advantage when pursuing new clients. Keter manages two Atlanta malls with TMG restaurants; Andrew and Paula were happy to connect!  

In the afternoon, Holly presented on the Ei PetroWax-Free Box Initiative on behalf of Chemol President Fred Wellons. PetroWax boxes are TRASH and expensive - an estimated $63 mil annually is spent on landfill tipping fees, instead of earning an estimated $180 mil in cardboard recycling revenue. It is cost-neutral for box manufacturers to switch to a petrowax alternative coating; no equipment changes are necessary either!

Simple economics support the shift to alternative coatings.

Holly pointing out the PetroWax-Free
Box economics
The ZWA Blog's second most popular article with 4800 pageviews, Waxed Cardboard = Landfill = $$ Lost, gives a synopsis of the industry dilemma along with an overview of a 2012 NRA Show educational session. In August of 2013, Ei led a trip to Indianapolis to observe petrowaxed box utilization at Piazza Produce, a strong regional produce distributor who boasts TMG as a loyal customer. Paula joined the Ei Team in Indy for the powerful visit.

With the Ei Pioneers ready for action, the Ei PetroWax-Free Box Initiative will launch in early to mid 2016.

Following the afternoon break, Sustainable Food Court Initiative Co-Chair Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks led the 45 minute session on Zero Food Waste Journeys with Ken Fraser of Eco-Products and Holly playing supporting roles. 

In June 2015, Ei and the Les Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI) Atlanta Chapter agreed to partner on a zero waste food journey for their prestigious November 8, Afternoon in the Country (AITC) fundraising event hosted within the Serenbe community. Event Producer Sue Anne Morgan, ideaLand owner, was excited to learn how to orchestrate zero food waste events along with keys to successes. The ZWA Blog article, Afternoon in the Country embarks on a zero food waste journey, announces the Ei | LDEI partnership for zero food waste at AITC.

A zero food waste plan breaks down into three main categories, each equally important for an effective plan:
  • Food & Beverage (F&B) Serviceware - ensure 100% BPI-certified compostable products are used for all F&B served at the event and prepackaged beverages are in recyclable containers. 
  • Food Waste Collection - a three-bin waste | recycling supported by clear signage & Waste Ambassadors assisting guests separate their material.
  • Food Waste Destination - a food donation program and composting site are key to close the zero food waste loop.
Serenbe site visit
Ei Partner Eco-Products stepped forward as a key in-kind event sponsor and played a vital role in education support. Compostable bags were provided by Ei Partner NaturBag. In August, SMAT members provided a two-hour Compostable F&B Packaging Education, modified for the AITC, to the LDEI Sustainability Task Force.

In the meantime, Sue Anne confirmed Serenbe was open to adding post-consumer food waste & compostable packaging to their farm waste compost pile. Holly & Boyd Leake, with his Community Environmental Management hat on, secured a Letter of Interpretation from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division stating the AITC food waste falls into Category I of the permit regulations; thus, a formal composting permit is not required within the regulations.

Ei contracted with Ei Supporter Let Us Compost to orchestrate the on-site food waste compost operations at AITC along with post-event follow-up. A Serenbe site inspection was essential to understand the circumstances and develop a rapport with the farm personnel.

The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Food Waste Heroes: the journey continues ..., details the extensive planning implemented in the months leading up to the AITC event day.

Kristen educating Scott
at compost pile
As the Event Producer for October 11 RayDay hosted at Serenbe, Sue Anne secured the zero food waste commitment from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. With the team in-place, Ei quickly pulled together an effective plan for the third annual RayDay.

Ken presented on the RayDay zero food waste success with 1200 pounds of food waste composted on-site. The Food Movement brought their prep waste to the event, resulting in a literal zero food waste event. Added Bonus: Ei Chair Scott Seydel attended the event as a guest! The ZWA Blog article, Simple, easy, proven steps culminate in zero food waste success, recaps the RayDay zero food waste success.

While a perfect scenario came together for RayDay: great, dry weather, paid Waste Ambassadors and one caterer, AITC was riddled with extraordinary challenges on event day. A rainy event day, coupled with prior ten days straight of rain, greeted event organizers, participants and guests with tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the event. 

AITC mud-drenched seating area
photo courtesy Doug
Of the 20 committed volunteers, only four showed up ready-to-work in the extreme conditions. And work they did! Cardboard waste | recycling bins disintegrated into the mud. The promised farm tractor at 11:00 a.m. was finally delivered at 4:00 p.m. as the event closed. Note the tractor was necessary for the compost pile construction. ... and there were 90+ chefs | restaurants participating at AITC!

The Ei Team - Doug, his lovely wife Rebecca, Kim, Ken, Holly, Boyd and Sarah Martell with Innovia Films - rolled up their sleeves to pinch hit within the challenges and created success amidst abundant lessons learned. 

Thanks to SuperHero Kristen Baskin, Let Us Compost owner, along with her associate Corey Helms, 1800 pounds of clean food waste was included in the on-farm compost pile. Throughout the day, Kristen kept the volunteers efficient weighing food waste bags as they arrived at the compost area, cleansing the food waste of contaminants and sorting flatware for grinding before added to the pile. Boyd was instrumental to building the compost pile, using his extensive composting experience.

Suzanne closing meeting
The Ei FB album, Afternoon in the Country, a zero food waste journey, is pictorial recap of the pre-event planning and the event day challenges and successes.

Suzanne closed the 2015 Annual Ei Partner Meeting with a quick recap of Ei's major accomplishments since inception. During the ZWZ launch and program building, Suzanne was the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sustainability Division deputy director and a strong ally in the early Ei days. Thank you Suzanne for volunteering your time to moderate the 2015 Annual Ei Partner Meeting!

The wine reception following the formal meeting was an excellent time for Partners to chat in a relaxed atmosphere and continue discussions started during the meeting. Partners were treated to Holly's homemade gravlax with mustard dill sauce and her goat cheese cheesecake with grape compote. Chef Donald completed the reception with his excellent cheese & light hors d'oeuvres platters.

Following tradition, the meeting festivities ended with a lovely dinner at Portofino. Superb food and wine brought forth the magic intertwined within the powerful presentations and dialogue throughout the day.

Partners enjoying pre-dinner
A big THANK YOU to recent University of Georgia grads (& newlyweds!) Tiffany Eberhard & Ridwan Bhuiyan for helping out with the meeting administration. 

The Ei FB album, 2015 Ei Annual Meeting, is a pictorial recap of the monumental day. PPT presentations are soon available for download on the Annual Ei Partner Meetings page.

With the Year of ACTION coming to a close, the Ei Team is excited to enter the Year of Accomplishments! Stay tuned ...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Annual NRA Show: fun, empowering & good for business!

Elemental Impact (Ei) has long-standing, strong relationships with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and foodservice industry leaders. Subsequent to her corporate accounting career, Ei Founder Holly owned an off-premise catering company along with two restaurants for fifteen years. Many of Ei's powerful connections stem directly or indirectly from Holly's years as a foodservice operator.

Holly learning how to break down
a side of beef  during GFA days
In the late 1980's Holly attended the first ad hoc Atlanta Restaurant Council (ARC) monthly meetings hosted by Pano Karatassos, Buckhead Life Group co-founder. When the ARC evolved into an official organization within the Georgia Hospitality & Travel Association (GHTA), Holly served as a founding Board Member. After the GHTA disbanded into separate hotel | lodging and restaurant organizations, the ARC segued into the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), a state affiliate of the NRA, after several intermediary identities.

Following her foodservice tenure, Holly served as the GRA official liaison with the chefs, among other responsibilities. During her GRA tenure Holly founded the Local, Sustainable & Green Roundtable where nationally renowned executive chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene served as co-chair. Slow Food Atlanta Founder Julie Shaffer co-chaired the round table with Linton.

At the second meeting hosted by the Four Seasons Atlanta, the round table attracted more than 100 attendees, including the Georgia Department of Agriculture Deputy Commissioner, City of Atlanta Director of Sustainability along with folks from the Center for Disease Control, Emory University, Georgia Organics and the American Culinary Federation. The GRA CEO announced the gathering was more than a round table, it was a movement. Thus, the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) was founded under the GRA umbrella.

Presenters @ press conference
announcing Ei | NRA collaboration
In February 2009, the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) were launched at an acclaimed press conference hosted at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) and led by Stanley Meiberg, then Acting Regional Director, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4. Laura Turner Seydel served as the ZWZ Chair. The ZWZ were a GFA program in partnership with Atlanta Recycles.

Ei was founded in February 2010 as the new ZWZ home. The following February the NRA announced a national collaboration with Ei | ZWZ at the ZWZ two-year anniversary press conference. The Zero Waste in ACTION (ZWA) Blog article, ZWZ Garners National Support, was a press conference overview featuring the national collaboration announcement.

In September 2012, the NRA purchased the ZWZ program with plans for national expansion within the state restaurant association network. The ZWA Blog, NRA Acquires the ZWZ, announced the monumental purchase.

Subsequent to the ZWZ purchase, Ei shifted focus from zero waste to Recycling Refinement, moving beyond landfill diversion, and Recycling Integrity, maintaining maximum material value with minimal energy expended. In 2014, the Sustainable Food Court Initiative, co-chaired by Ei Chair Scott Seydel and Doug Kunnemann with NatureWorks (NW), announced post-consumer food waste was the initiative's primary focus. The ZWA Blog, SFCI Targets Post-Consumer Food Waste, is a SFCI history | update and explains the challenges inherent within post-consumer food waste programs.

Doug & Tim @ end of
education session
At the request of GWCC Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer, Ei's SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team - presented a two-hour compostable food & beverage packaging education session on April 8 for Levy Restaurants' downtown operations. Levy provides the foodservice for the GWCC, Georgia Dome, Phillips Arena, and the New Atlanta Stadium under construction. 

The ZWA Blog article, Compostable Packaging: integral to zero waste programs and soil rebuilding, is an education session recap. As the article closes, the foodservice industry is issued a call-to-action:
It is time for the foodservice industry to step to the plate, take responsibility for food waste generated in their operations, send their food waste in a contaminant-free, beneficial stream to composting or other state-permitted facilities, and use their power of consumer demand to evolve packaging standards and establish ample permitted food waste destinations. Several years ago industry pioneers launched effective food waste programs; a path to follow is well-established.
With perfect timing, NW joined forces with the NRA ConServe Program to further food waste collection for composting within the foodservice industry. The May 12 NRA press release New Conserve Sponsor NatureWorks to Educate Restaurateurs About Compostable Packaging Options announces the NW sponsorship. In the release, Conserve Program Director Jeff Clark states:
NRA | USCC folks at end
of 2011 intro meeting
“Along with our Food Waste Reduction Alliance efforts and partnership with the U.S. Composting Council (USCC), we are excited to work with visionary companies like NatureWorks to promote business-friendly, environmental change.” 
In December 2011, Ei facilitated an introductory meeting with NRA and USCC executives where the NRA | USCC MOU - memorandum of understanding - discussion began. The ZWA Blog article, NRA Leads Industry Collaboration, recaps the important meeting; the Collaboration is Key to Success article announced the MOU. Here is the official language from the 2012 press release:
The NRA and USCC are teaming up to raise awareness about food waste diversion, composting education, and other sustainable activities nationwide. The two organizations will share educational resources and identify collaborative opportunities that promote awareness of the role composting plays in waste reduction, improved soil and water quality.
Inherent within a commitment to improved soil and water quality is comprehensive front and back-of-the-house food waste collection for compost programs. Compostable food & beverage packaging is essential to clean front-of-the-house operations where single-use plates, flatware and cups are used.

Holly serves as the self-appointed spokesperson for Compost,The Quiet Hero, who made his debut in a 90-minute solo 2010 NRA Show educational session. In an encore performance, our hero returned in 2011 to moderate the Compost,The Quiet Hero Returns with the HOW educational panel. The ZWA Blog article, The Quiet Hero Speaks, gives the WHY compost is important; the Compost, The Quiet Hero: An Encore Performance at the NRA Show article recaps the panel discussion on the HOW.

Full-bloom cherry blossom line
Lakefront Trail
With deep-rooted NRA and foodservice industry relationships, the annual NRA Show hosted at McCormick Place in Chicago is a top Ei priority. Holly arrives several days early for meetings and to capture the glorious spring - the Show times perfectly with prime tulip and cherry blossoms!

First on the 2015 Show agenda was the True Tales of Unexpected Triumph: The Bumpy Path to Sustainability moderated by Jeff Clark. 

Close friend and Ei Advisory Council Member Christy Cook, Sodexo senior manager sustainability deployment and field support, along with Richard Young, Food Service Technology Center senior engineer / director of education, John Mulcahy, Georgia-Pacific vice president – sustainability & compliance, and Christian Hardigree, Kennesaw State University, Institute for Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality founding director and professor, shared their experiences in the TED-style presentation format.

In her presentation, Christy emphasized the important role community culture plays in successful sustainability programs. While growing up on a small South Georgia farm, Christy experienced a community working together for the greater good, especially during harvest time. Equipment was shared and overall support for each other was common ground. 

True Tales panel during Q&A
When supportive community culture develops in an organization, sustainable best practices naturally flow into standard practices. In the busy corporate world, a convenience-based decision making culture is common, leading to wasted resources. Example: rather than hassling with repairs, associates may send broken smallwares to the landfill versus taking the time to diagnose and fix the equipment.

In his storytelling presentation, Richard told the audience about the worst day of his career when he almost shut his friend's restaurant down. The experience taught Richard about the many small, but significant, ways restaurants waste energy. A great foundation for his work at the nation's leading resource for commercial foodservice energy efficiency information was established.

Christian played an active role in the Q&A on creative solutions for food waste generated in foodservice operations. Last year Christian gave a hilarious, effective presentation on the Green Practices To Achieve Millennial Loyalty panel. 

CleanRiver booth
In addition to the True Tales panel, Jeff and Natalie Chadwick, NRA ConServe associate, orchestrated four well-attended sustainability panels where prominent industry leaders shared their expertise, successes and how they overcame challenges.

After the panel, Holly visited Ei Partner booths in the Show exhibit halls. Long-time Ei Partner CleanRiver Recycling Solutions (CRS) was first on the list with their premier booth within the NRA ConServe area. 

The prior week Holly spent time with CRS Founder & CEO Bruce Buchan and CRS Business Development Manager Tom Lembo at the 2015 National Zero Waste Conference hosted in Los Angeles. At the conference, Bruce and Holly were inducted into the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council Four-Year Club for attending each of the four annual conferences. The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste Makes Good Business Sense, is a conference overview from Ei's perspective and features CRS in their sponsorship role.

Laura @ the ConServe
Around the corner from CRS was the NRA Conserve booth where they were "Serving up sustainability!" Timing was exceptional as Laura Abshire, NRA director of sustainability, was "womanning" the booth. Laura is the designated NRA representative at the annual Sustainable Food & Beverage Packaging Value Chain meetings; NRA Senior Editor | Writer, Sustainability Elissa Elan and Natalie accompany Laura to the meetings.

Each year executives from trade associations and non-profits from the entire sustainable food & beverage packaging value chain meet in Washington D.C. for a day of vibrant dialogue and sharing. For the past three years, Global Green's D.C. office hosted the meeting. Ei orchestrates the meeting administration and moderates the presentations and strategy session. The ZWA blog article, Sustainable F&B Packaging: moving from an emerging to a maturing industry, documents the December 2014 meeting.

Ian & Wendell on the
Show floor
Next on the booth visit itinerary was Ei Partner Eco-Products' easy-to-find, impressive booth. While at the booth Holly caught up with Eco-Products President Ian Jacobson, Vice-President Marketing Wendell Simonson and Senior Eastern Regional Sales Manager Ken Fraser. At the April 8 Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education Session, Ken presented on success stories featuring zero waste programs at Red Rocks Amphitheater, Safeco Field and University of Colorado.

Keeping in the compostable packaging mode, Asean | StalkMarket was the next booth visited. It is always great to catch-up with owner Buzz Chandler, who serves as BPI President. BPI is the industry's recognized third-party compostable packaging certification organization. 

In 2012 Buzz contributed his vast industry expertise when the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Team crafted the Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet. Designed as an education tool for airport food vendors, the document set the packaging parameters for the compostable packaging provision in the then new Atlanta Airport concessionaire contract; BPI-certified compostable packaging was the established standard. The ZWA Blog post, Atlanta Airport Makes Bold Sustainable Statement, announces the contract provision while the Compostable Packaging Info Packet, is an overview of the packet.

On the second Show day, Ei Partner Novolex Chief Operating Officer Ben Mascarella treated Holly to a lovely lunch. The conversation centered on Ei's current | future initiatives and Novolex's recent industry expansion and diversification. It was exciting to see the new Novolex brands - Duro, Fortune, Bagcraft - in addition to their Hilex Poly bags at their Show booth.

Novolex was instrumental in the 2012 plastic film recycling pilot at Concord Mills, the SFCI Shopping Mall PilotThe ZWA Blog post, ACTION: Theme for the SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, includes an overview of the plastic film recycling program implemented at Concord Mills. 

Louis & Ben @ the
Novolex booth
Spending quality time with good industry friends is always a highlight of the NRA Show. On Saturday evening, Novolex Director of Sales- Latin America Louis Herrera invited Holly to attend an amazing dinner at RPM Italian, hosted by Michael Hicks of Allen Brothers - the great steakhouse steaks. As a leading purveyor of USDA prime beef, Allen Brothers provides steaks to prominent steakhouses across the nation; Michael and Holly share many common friends within the Atlanta restaurant community. The superb dinner was an exceptional experience from culinary and social perspectives.

In Chicago for the Show, Ei Partner HMSHost Senior Manager, Contracting Devon Ray met with Holly and fellow partner Jordan Salpietra of Grease Lock Filters (GLF).  At the SFCI - Atlanta Airport, HMSHost took a leadership role in the testing and implementation of GLF at the busiest airport in the world. The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Airport honors sustainability partners at greeningATL Excellence Awards, includes a history of HMSHost's stellar sustainability practices at their Atlanta Airport operations.

GLF are the foundation for Ei's Airborne Kitchen Grease (AKG), a proactive approach to a costly cooking by-product, initiative that improves fire safety, prevents costly roof damage caused by AKG, saves water filled with grease & cleaning toxins, reduces third-party contracted kitchen exhaust system cleaning and saves money. For additional information, on the disposable filters visit the linked AKG page.

HMSHost | GLF executed a national contract in 2014 with the intention to implement GLF throughout HMSHost's extensive North American foodservice operations. At the Show meeting, the main topic was development of the national implementation plan. Devon, Jordan and Holly departed with good cheer and action points.

Christy, Michael & Jordan
at Greenstar Brewery
On Saturday Jordan and Holly met with Christy Cook to introduce AKG and discuss a potential pilot within Sodexo's Atlanta foodservice operations. Once business was complete, the trio headed to Uncommon Ground for a tour of on-premise, organic-certified Greenstar Brewery. Holly met Uncommon Ground co-owner Helen Cameron after her impressive ConServe sustainability panel presentation at the 2014 NRA Show.

Opened as Illinois' first organic brewery in July 2014, Greenstar Brewery occupies 1200 square feet in contiguous space to Uncommon Ground's Clark Street location. Helen's husband and co-owner Michael Cameron treated the enthusiastic group to an informative, fun brewery tour. The brewery space was built to serve as an entertainment venue for beer and music events that support the local community.

A master at creative marketing, Michael oversees the brewery along with its community-based promotions. Every Tuesday a portion of growler sales are donated to a rotation of local charities. Michael and Helen are active in the community and ensure their restaurants and brewery give back to those who support their establishments. The payback is a strong loyal clientele.

The eleven restaurant bar taps were 100% supplied by Greenstar Brewery. Holly was impressed with the black currant K├Âlsch, crafted in honor of Helen's German mother. Fun fact: the beer taps are made from fallen tree branches in nearby Jackson Park! Michael is friends with the gentleman contracted to remove fallen trees after storms or other mishaps.

Beyond the plethora of education sessions and exhibit hall explorations, the Show serves as a catalyst for scheduled and impromptu meetings along with fun expeditions like the Greenstar Brewery tour.

NRA Show exhibit hall
The 96th annual NRA Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show attracted more than 63,000 total registrants from all 50 states and 100+ countries. Show attendance included 100% of the top 50 restaurant brands in the world; 98 of the top 100 restaurant brands. For the first time, the Show exhibit space spanned across three discrete buildings – McCormick Place’s North Building, South Building and Lakeside Center. IMPRESSIVE!

The Ei FB album, 2015 NRA Show, gives a pictorial recap of Ei's Show experience.

Although Ei works in a broad range of industries, the foodservice industry - the nation's second largest industry and employer - remains a center-stage focus within Ei initiatives. Ei's annual Chicago trip to the NRA Show is fun, empowering and darned "good for business!"