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National Restaurant Association - Sustainability takes off at Atlanta airport

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Sustainability takes off at Atlanta airport

A provision in Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport's new 10-year operating contract requiring concessionaires to use compostable packaging as well as compost waste is one of the most significant sustainability initiatives of its kind, said Christopher Moyer, subject matter expert for the National Restaurant Association's Conserve Sustainability Education Program.

Moyer, along with Holly Elmore, founder and CEO of sustainability concern Elemental Impact, a strategic partner of the NRA, and onsite foodservice concern HMSHost, spearheaded a taskforce that just completed a yearlong exploratory project yielding tools and solutions concessionaires can use to comply with the contract's zero-waste provision.

"This [request for proposal] is game changing because of the sheer size of the airport," Moyer said. "It's one of the busiest in the nation. By implementing this plan, they essentially are changing the way food items are served there. Companies will now be required to put their products in compostable packaging."

Moyer said Conserve and Atlanta-based Elemental Impact would work together to educate operators so they can meet the parameters of the new contract, which include using compostable, consumer-facing packaging and serviceware as well as source separate, recycle and compost organic material.

"At Conserve, we will work on solutions with our partners, like HMS Host, and make suggestions that help the airport's concessionaires comply with the RFP more easily and cost effectively," he said. "It's all very exciting."

HMS Host, a member of both the NRA and Elemental Impact, is one of eight foodservice contractors awarded contracts at Hartsfield airport Jan. 3. The company will oversee foodservice operations at the airport's Atrium food court and its new International Concourse F, which debuts this spring.

Though it could take as long as 18 months to fully implement the contract's zero-waste initiative, Moyer said he and Elemental Impact will "roll up our sleeves and make solutions available that help concessionaires find recycling components and meet the requirements involved in the contract. It's not something that will happen overnight, but it will happen in time."

He added that the two groups would, in the next few weeks, ask questions and look for solutions geared toward helping offset the costs of transferring over to compostable products. "That's our role," he said.

For more information on Conserve, visit the website at http://conserve.restaurant.org/.

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