“Striving For Zero” At BioCycle West Coast

Nora Goldstein
BioCycle March 2012, Vol. 53, No. 3, p. 61

BioCycle’s 26th Annual West Coast Conference, April 16-19, 2012 in Portland, Oregon, is being primed to achieve Zero Waste. The conference venue, the Red Lion Hotel on the River, is collaborating with EcoSafe Zero Waste, Pacific Region Composting, Food Services of America (FSA), Republic Services (Allied) and BioCycle to green the event. EcoSafe is overseeing the initiative, using its “Striving for Zero Waste” program that combines easily identifiable compostable food service ware, source separation stations with clear signage, and involvement of hotel and food service management and staff, the waste hauler and composter from the beginning.

The project was initiated in mid February with a series of meetings with all the stakeholders involved with “zero wasting” the conference.  Participants included the Red Lion’s executive chef Tim Casasanta, who chairs the venue’s Green Team; Jordan Trimmer from Pacific Region Compost and Allied Waste (hauler, recycler and composter); Steve Popp from Kenco (coordinating product supply and distribution); and Ric Mallett and Phil Ragan from EcoSafe, responsible for preparing the collateral to support the program. The goal in the end is to finish the BioCycle West Coast Conference with less than 10 percent of the waste going to landfill and have minimal contamination in the recycling and compost bins. “To achieve this, three critical points in the cycle must be addressed,” explains Phil Ragan of EcoSafe Zero Waste. “The first is to have complete control on the supply side to ensure that everything used for the event is either durable (reusable), compostable or recyclable. Reusables are fairly straight forward as is recycling. Food scraps and compostable products, on the other hand, are a bit more of a challenge. Food for the most part is fairly easy except on the condiment side where packaging can be a major source of contamination. However, understanding compostable food service wares and packaging, is everyone’s biggest headache and challenge. Any compostable products we use in Striving For Zero Waste have been tested for compliance with the ASTM 6400 Standard for toxicity, ecotoxicity and heavy metals, as well as tested and approved under real world composting conditions. Second, the products must have the common Brown Line Compostable marking that is easily understood and recognized from a distance of 10 feet.”

The second critical point in the cycle, continues Ragan, is ensuring that sorting stations clearly alert guests this is not “business as usual” and a different behavior is expected. “While you have their attention for a second or two, the signage must lead them to actions that are instinctive. The third critical component to implementing and sustaining contamination-free recyclables and food and compostables is on the backend, starting with the composter and recycler setting the standard then monitoring and documenting contamination levels that trigger remedial action.” Staff at theRed Lion is ready to take on the Zero Waste challenge. “We’ve already achieved over 50 percent diversion and with the help of EcoSafe, FSA and Allied, we’re confident we can achieve the ZW target of more than 90 percent diversion,” says Casasanta.

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