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Atlanta to Launch Southeast's First Zero Waste Zone

Release Date: 02/12/2009
Contact Information: Sharon Goldmacher, communications 21, 404-814-1330,

Atlanta – February 10, 2009 – It’s a fact that 82 percent of the materials disposed of in landfills are recoverable products, such as paper, organics and plastics.

In an effort to combat these statistics, Atlanta Recycles has partnered with the Green Foodservice Alliance, and is working in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 and the Pollution Prevention Assistance Division of the Department of Natural Resources to launch the southeast’s first, and one of the nation’s first, Zero Waste Zones.

Zero Waste Zones are designed to reduce the environmental impact of waste in homes, workplaces and in the community. Phase One of the Zero Waste Zone will focus on downtown Atlanta’s convention district and participating foodservice operations. More than 10 participants, including the Georgia World Congress Center, the Hyatt Regency and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse have already pledged to recycle, reuse spent grease for the local production of biofuel and compost or donate food residuals to drastically decrease the amount of waste going to landfills.

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 Washington, D.C.-based EnviRelations, LLC – a partner of Closed Loop Organics – to begin composting food items from the two facilities for the next year. Each month, approximately 34 tons of organic materials will be diverted from landfills and more than 20 tons of compost will be created – equivalent to one whale shark and five elephant seals a month, respectively.

This new composting program is being launched today at the Meeting Planners International (MPI) conference in the Georgia World Congress Center. All food at the luncheon, for the more than 1,000 meeting and event planners attending, will either be consumed, donated to the Atlanta Community Food Bank or composted. No food residuals will go 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 added.
“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.”

“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,” he added.

Holly Elmore, founder and executive director of the Green Foodservice Alliance, worked hand-in-hand with Atlanta Recycles to lead the initiative to develop the southeast’s first Zero Waste Zone, and will continue to oversee its expansion to additional foodservice operations and local businesses.

In Phase Two, Atlanta Recycles and the Green Foodservice Alliance will develop a model and collateral material to help 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 nationally.

After the press conference, for more information, please contact Holly Elmore – executive director, Green Foodservice Alliance at or 404.261.4690.

About Green Foodservice Alliance
The Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) is a division of the Georgia Restaurant Association, in collaboration with the American Culinary Federation – Greater Atlanta Chapter, Georgia Organics and the Georgia Grown Program at the Department of Agriculture. GFA’s mission is to increase the supply of local and sustainable products available to the Georgia foodservice industry through efficient and fluid distribution channels.