Moving beyond landfill diversion

Ei was formed in 2010 as the home for the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), the nation's forerunner in the collection of commercial food waste for compost. Inaugural ZWZ years were dedicated to raising awareness of food waste compost within the foodservice industry and establishing new sustainable standard operating practices. Founding ZWZ Participants perfected back-of-the-house food waste collection practices and shared their successes with industry colleagues.

The National Resources Defense Council's 2012 Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill issue paper publication alerted mainstream media to the food waste crisis. Numerous powerful organizations formed within the foodservice and retail industries to directly address the crisis and affect change.

Thus, the established operating practices combined with national food waste awareness earmarked successful completion of Ei's role. In late 2012 the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ; the ZWA Blog article, National Restaurant Association Acquires Zero Waste Zones, announces the monumental milestone in Ei history.
 
In 2014 the Sustainable Food Court Initiative announced its stated prime focus was post-consumer food waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill. The Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) supported SFCI Pilot post-consumer food waste projects, ranging from compostable packaging education, post-game food waste collection, to a post-consumer food waste compost pilot at a state-permitted composting facility.
 
By 2016 numerous sporting event facilities, venues, outdoor festivals and other food-related businesses achieved zero waste, including post-consumer food waste. Thus, Ei's post-consumer food waste-related work was complete.
 
Along with food waste-related programs, Recycling Refinement included profound work in plastic film recycling, milk jug recycling, source-separated materials, and total materials management. With the U.S. Zero Waste Council joining forces with U.S Green Building Council, industry awareness, as well as successful zero waste programs, catapulted within Recycling Refinement's tagline, moving beyond landfill diversion. Thus, Ei's prominent role in developing materials management best-operating practices and creating industry awareness was complete: Mission Accomplished!!
 
Recycling Refinement, zero waste, and other related expertise are available via Ei Founder Holly Elmore's private consulting practice at www.hollyelmore.com.

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Original Recycling Refinement page:

Ei is committed to creating operating practices where integrity is maintained throughout the entire value chain, including material producers, users and destinations at disposal time. Diverting valuable material from landfills and back into the production process is a core of Ei’s foundation and expertise.

As the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) steward, Ei was a “zero waste cheerleader” educating the commercial consumer on the important role recycling plays in best business practices. Beyond environmental concerns, recycling programs often are profit centers, especially for larger generators, improve employee morale and are expected by customers.

When the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ in 2012, Ei evolved from a cheerleader to working with zero waste veterans on refining recycling practices. The ZWA Blog post, National Restaurant Association Acquires the Zero Waste Zones, announces the program purchase.

In the early years, 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 within the delivered material.

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 Recycling Refinement focus areas are:

In 2015 SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team, an Ei task force - formed to support Recycling Refinement initiatives. SMAT members include Ei Industry Experts as well as local and federal government associates.

Intertwined within Recycling Refinement is Recycling Integrity - maintaining maximum material value with minimum energy expended. With an emphasis on source-separation at the generation site, Recycling Integrity demands organizations understand the final destination, including the journey along the way, of by-products and material generated during operations.