, February 13, 2009 (ENS) - It's a fact that 82 percent of the materials disposed of in landfills are recoverable products, such as paper, organics and plastics, according to the U.S. EPA.
In an effort to recover these materials from the waste stream, Atlanta Recycles this week launched the southeast's first Zero Waste Zone, designed to reduce the environmental impact of waste in homes, workplaces and in the community.
The recycling organization is partnering with the Green Foodservice Alliance, and is working in conjunction with the U.S. EPA Region 4 and the Pollution Prevention Assistance Division of the Department of Natural Resources on the project.
Phase One of the Zero Waste Zone focuses on downtown Atlanta's convention district and participating foodservice operations. Ten participants, including the Georgia World Congress Center, the Hyatt Regency and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, have pledged to recycle, to reuse spent grease for the local production of biofuel, and to donate or compost food residuals.
In addition, Levy Restaurants, the official foodservice operator of the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome, signed a contract on February 3 with EnviRelations, LLC to begin composting food items from the two facilities for the next year.
A seafood spread at the Georgia World Congress Center (Photo courtesy GWCC)
Each month, about 34 tons of organic materials will be diverted from landfills and more than 20 tons of compost will be created.
The new composting program was launched Tuesday at the Meeting Planners International conference in the Georgia World Congress Center. All food at the luncheon for more than 1,000 guests, was consumed, donated to the Atlanta Community Food Bank or composted. No food went to a landfill.
"We are amazed at the enthusiasm shown in support of the Zero Waste Zone," said Laura Turner Seydel, honorary chair of the Zero Waste Zone - Downtown Atlanta.
"The composting program is incredibly innovative since there was not a permitted composting facility in Georgia until four months ago. We want to thank Levy Restaurants and the Georgia World Congress Center for their vision and commitment to the Zero Waste Zone," she said.
"The companies participating in Atlanta's downtown Zero Waste Zone, the first in the Southeast and one of just a handful across the nation, will recover materials that would ordinarily be sent to a landfill and instead put them to good use," said Stan Meiburg, EPA Region 4 acting regional administrator.
"Eliminating waste is important and EPA applauds the Green Foodservice Alliance, the Georgia Restaurant Association and Atlanta Recycles for working with downtown businesses to rethink their foodservice operations with reuse and recycling in mind," said Meiburg.
"Atlanta is focused on becoming a greener city, and the Zero Waste Zone is an excellent step in that direction," said Kevin Duvall, assistant general manager of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. "We want to make sure that we are leading the way in recycling initiatives so that conventions, events and meeting planners continue to look upon Atlanta as a great destination city as well as one that cares about the environment."
In Phase Two, Atlanta Recycles and the Green Foodservice Alliance will expand the program to other locations in the convention district. Decals with the Zero Waste Zone brand will be developed and distributed to participants for education of the staff and public.
Phase Three will include expansion of the Zero Waste Zones outside of the downtown convention district to locations including Buckhead, Midtown and other surrounding communities, and Phase Four will expand to other areas of Georgia, the southeast and later, across the country.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.
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