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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ei Welcomes New Strategic Allies

The Ei Strategic Ally program is integral to the Elemental Impact business model. Within the program, respected institutions, non-profits, trade associations and business organizations contribute industry expertise and connections to Ei initiatives.

Often Strategic Ally executives serve on the Ei Advisory Council and share their expertise during initiative development and implementation. If applicable, an in-kind membership is part of the Strategic Ally program parameters.

Over the past months, Ei welcomed two new Strategic Allies to the prominent program: Second Helpings, Atlanta and Recycle Across America.

Second Helpings, Atlanta (SHA)

Launched in 2004 as a Temple Sinai social action project by congregant Guenther Hecht, SHA evolved into a respected Atlanta-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization. SHA collects donated excess food from farmers markets, restaurants and event venues for delivery to metro Atlanta area agencies supporting food insecure citizens.

Since inception, SHA collected in excess of 5.4 million pounds of quality, nutritious food for donation - enough food to provide a meal for everyone attending 63 packed games at the Georgia Dome (over 4.5 million meals). SHA collects from 60 Food Donors and delivers to 31 Partner Agencies.

In May 2015 SHA committed to escalate impact and hired Joe Labriola as the first SHA Executive Director. A retired marketing executive with 30+ years experience at IBM, Joe is perfect to propel SHA into new realms of impact with his impressive business acumen and strategic focus. SHA is on track to rescue & distribute 1.3 million pounds of food in 2016, a 54% increase over 2015.

Myron & Elizabeth during
interview marathon
The Ei | SHA strong relationship began in 2009 when Ei Founder Holly Elmore served as the Green Foodservice Alliance Founder and Executive Director. SHA Food Donor Coordinator, Myron Smith contacted Holly after reading the Atlanta Journal & Constitution She's a green bean-counter; Sustainability for the food service industry article featuring Holly and the Zero Waste Zones. A close friendship developed as Holly introduced Myron to her in-depth foodservice connections.

When renowned author Elizabeth Royte visited Atlanta for a whirlwind two-day interview marathon hosted by Holly, Myron was top on the list for time with Elizabeth. In her November 2012 Martha Stewart Whole Living article Spoil Alert, Elizabeth features Myron: ... lurks along the edges of the Dunwoody farmers' market, the palest and gentlest vulture you've ever seen. Smith has his eye on bunches of collards and zucchini that might not sell by the market's closing.

The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta's Focus on Food Waste Reduction, chronicles the empowering interview marathon; the ZWA Blog article Atlanta Wasted Food Heroes in National Spotlight highlights the impressive Spoil Alert article.

When Ei joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) in 2014, Holly introduced Myron to Kim Charick, EPA Region 4 FRC co-lead. Over the past two years, SHA worked closely with the EPA on increasing food donations within the metro Atlanta area.

Once Joe settled into his new SHA role, Holly orchestrated an introductory luncheon with Kim and Boyd Leake, City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability senior policy advisor. Shortly after the instrumental luncheon, SHA joined the Ei Strategic Ally program.

Boyd, Kim & Joe @ lunch
Under Joes' leadership, SHA is positioned for growth with the following five focus areas:
  1. Harden core business processes.
  2. Increase levels of awareness and support of SHA.
  3. Expand the SHA community.
  4. Build out a scalable technology platform.
  5. Develop & implement an expansion plan.
Ei is excited to expand important work with SHA as both organizations segue into evolved dimensions of impact.

Recycle Across America (RAA)

RAA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to expediting environmental progress by creating the world's first and only society-wide standardized labeling system for recycling bins. The intent is to make it easier for people to begin to recycle right, wherever they might be. 

With over 20 years of experience in marketing, communications and branding services for Fortune 500 companies as well as small to mid-sized companies, Michelle "Mitch" Hedlund founded RAA in 2010. RAA promotes standardized recycling labels as a major step in alleviating consumer confusion, a leading cause of contamination in public and corporate facilities.

Additionally, RAA helps people understand the importance of recycling right, with the introduction of the first celebrity-led solution-driven PSA campaign -- called "Let's recycle right!" a.k.a. "Let's".

Ei and RAA first connected at the 2015 National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) hosted by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council and the City of Los Angeles Department of Sanitation. In her keynote plenary presentation, Mitch used a series of standard protocol, including "Stop Signs," created to alleviate confusion while promoting public safety. The "Stop Sign" was once a novelty that flowed into an accepted standard; RAA is committed to evolving consistent recycling bin signage into common practice. Per Mitch, 
"We all rely on standardizations everyday that make it easier for society to function safely and efficiently. It's time to apply the same logic to recycling if we want people to start doing it properly and for it to become economically viable. "
The ZWA Blog article, Business NOT as usual: fine-tuning the zero waste journey, showcases the 2015 NZWBC plenary sessions along with a feature on Mitch's empowering presentation.

Ei Environmental Advisor and Atlanta Recycles (AR) Co-Founder, Laura Turner Seydel invited Mitch to keynote at the August 2016 AR meeting. While in Atlanta, Mitch scheduled a series of instrumental meetings including the Atlanta Airport (the busiest airport in the world!), City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Coca-Cola and lunch with Holly. Building upon tremendous synergies, it was natural for RAA to join the Ei Strategic Ally Program.

With rampant contamination in single-stream recycling systems, especially curbside & in public domain where the consumer disposes of material, RAA's standard labeling system adoption is escalating at a promising fast pace. The following details recent RAA accomplishments:
Mitch speaking at the NZWBC
  • To date, RAA donated nearly 500,000 labels to K-12 public schools with a goal to donate 1,000,000 by 2017.
  • Orlando Public Schools reported an increase in recycling of 90% and saved a reported $369,000 net in landfill hauling fees in one year as a direct result of implementing standardized labels in their district.
  • Standardized labels are displayed at National Parks beginning in 2016, with Denali, Yosemite and Grand Teton in the first rollout. The labels are compliments of a new partnership with Subaru and the National Parks Zero Landfill Initiative.
  • Rhode Island recently became the first state to fully adopt the standardized label solution.
  • The Minnesota State Fair, the largest state fair in the country, implemented the standardized labels on their bins
Recent adopters of the standardized labels include:
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • City of Winter Park
  • City of Atlanta
  • Whole Foods throughout the North Atlantic, Florida, Mid Atlantic and most recently the Midwest and NYC regions
The RAA standard recycling bin labeling system complements Ei Strategic Ally GreenBlue Institute's How2Recycle standard packaging label. How2Recycle labels clarify actual recyclability of packaging components and clearly communicate recycling instructions to the public.The RAA labels instruct consumers on which bin to place the packaging.

With Ei's strong commitment to contaminant-free recycling streams - the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template tagline is Contamination is a Mistake, the Ei | RAA partnership is monumental from an educational, practical and effective standpoint.

Welcome Second Helpings - Atlanta and Recycle Across America to the Ei Strategic Ally Program! The Ei Team is enthusiastic to continue work-in-progress and embark on new adventures.