Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF Launching Food Waste Council

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum has received a seed grant from the Michigan Local Food Council Network to promote food recovery among local businesses and institutions through the creation of a new multidisciplinary council of food waste stakeholders.

The Western Michigan Food Recovery Council will serve commercial and industrial markets in West and Southwest Michigan, principally Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Allegan and Berrien counties, with a particular emphasis on large grocery operations and the commercial and institutional food service operations that account for an estimated 48% of food waste landfilled in Michigan, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance.  The council will provide access to peer-to-peer education, multidisciplinary networking, technical resources, and opportunities for collaboration.

“There is an enormous economic and environmental value lost to waste within local food systems that could be retained with efforts to promote less-wasteful, money-saving practices among businesses and institutions,” said Daniel Schoonmaker, Executive Director of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. “We can retain value through reuse options that feed the hungry or animals, through waste minimization, and the creation of marketable compost products and services.”

A recent WMSBF study found that Michigan disposes of an estimated 1.1 million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream each year, the single largest source of material disposed in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. West Michigan disposes of an estimated 132,000 tons of food waste, while Southwest Michigan disposes of an estimated 106,000 tons of food waste. Nationally, the USDA estimates that as much as 40% of food purchased is waste.   Business and institutions generate a slight majority of food waste, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, and offer the most opportunity for recovery improvement.

The council will be facilitated by WMSBF in partnership with GreenMichigan.org and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University.

Founding council members include representatives from SpartanNash, Meijer, Cocoa, Organicycle, Barfly Ventures, Bells Brewery, Gordon Food Service, Mercy Health, Spectrum Health, Creative Dining Services, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent County Department of Public Works, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Secchia Institute at Grand Rapids Community College, Lake Michigan College, and Feeding America West Michigan.

The Michigan Local Food Council Network is a program of the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University.  It has provided support for a dozen county local food councils across Michigan over the past year.  WMFRC is the first council in the network organized around a specific issue, and will collaborate with other network councils in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Berrien counties.

“Our goal is to strengthen the network of food councils across Michigan, and the WMFRC will fill a unique space in the state’s food council landscape,” said Liz Gensler, co-coordinator of the Michigan Local Food Council Network and Outreach Specialist at CRFS. “We see great potential for WMRFC to impact food recovery innovation both locally as they work alongside councils in West Michigan and across Michigan as they share learnings and the tools they develop through the network.”

Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF July Features John Ball Zoo and Founders Brewing

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will host a luncheon discussion next week highlighting recent sustainability initiatives at two high-profile local destinations: Founders Brewing and John Ball Zoo.

WMSBF hosts a monthly meeting of approximately 100 local sustainability professionals. This month’s event is Monday, July 17 from 12 to 2 pm at the Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo. It is open to the public.

Allmon Forrester, Director of Facilities, Planning and Sustainability at John Ball Zoo and John Ball Zoo CEO Peter D’Arienzo will discuss the zoo’s sustainability success stories, highlight its efforts in waste reduction, energy efficiency and sustainable development, highlighting the connection between animal conservation and sustainability. The meeting will also include an optional behind the scenes tour of the zoo’s exhibits.

John Ball Zoo inspires people to be active participants in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment. John Ball Zoo houses 1,500 animals and serves a diverse audience of over 500,000 visitors annually. It is building a plan aimed to both educate and challenge the organization and its community partners about waste management, in hopes of achieving zero-waste in the years to come. Since launching a water conservation plan in 2002, it has saved 615-million gallons of water and cut usage by over two-thirds. Green roofs have been added on four buildings, several ‘live’ walls have been installed, and over 150 new trees have been planted in the last eight years.

Cody Green, the Environment, Health & Safety Specialist for Founders Brewing Company will share how its efforts to sustainably dispose of wastewater from brewing operations led to a partnership with City of Grand Rapids that will develop a city-operated biodigester.

Lunch is $15 for members, $20 for future members. Learn more and register at wmsbf.org/july2017.

Member News, WMSBF News

2017 President’s Award Winner: Jason Kehr

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will honor Jason Kehr as the 2017 President’s Award winner at its Annual Meeting this Monday.  The President’s Award recognizes a professional for his or her contributions to the growth and development of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.  It is given each year at the WMSBF Annual Meeting.  View past winners here.

Kehr is Managing Partner of Valley City Electronic Recycling. He is a founding member of the WMSBF Solid Waste Task Force and has served on the board of directors since 2015. A tireless advocate for the organization, Kehr is directly responsible for growing WMSBF membership by 5% during his time on the board. He was also a contributor to the Michigan Municipal Solid Waste Economic Valuation Study.

VCER is an R2 Certified electronic recycler and has been serving Grand Rapids and the state of Michigan since 2003.  Jason resides in Eastown with his wife, Marilyn, and their five children.

Event Review, Member News

Review: Schupan Bottle Bill Tour 2

Schupan Recycling hosted WMSBF members to a tour of its bottle recycling facility on Tuesday, May 23.

Photos from the event can be found at our Facebook page.

The program included a presentation on Schupan’s recycling efforts, a Q&A session, tutorials in their demo area, and a guided walk-through of the indoor & outdoor recycling areas.

The 55,000-square foot facility processes 45,000 tons of material each year, including most Michigan deposit containers collected west of US-27, and miscellaneous other items, such as commodity material collected from events and full-product destruction.

WMSBF is trying to find ways to offer more value to its members through member-only events and mixers such as this.  We hope that members will share these opportunities with their colleagues and network so that they might take advantage of these services as well.

Member News, Resources, WMSBF News

Imagine Trash Partner Testimonial: Morgan & Morgan CPAs

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum is still offering a waived co-pay promotion to members that sign up for the Imagine Trash Partner Program. WMSBF currently has 15 of the 50 promotional waste audit slots remaining, so the sooner you reach out the more likely the offering will still be available. The program includes a package of technical resources for small and medium sized organizations in the West Michigan region to improve their recycling efforts and potentially establish zero waste to landfill goals.  Now scheduling waste audits for February and March.

This week, WMSBF highlights Imagine Trash Partner Program participant Morgan & Morgan CPAs, an accounting and consulting firm focused on improving the financial and operational performance of small and medium-sized organizations, individuals and families through strategic tax and assurance services.

In response to the Imagine Trash waste audit performed onsite at Morgan & Morgan CPAs (M&M), members within the organization had a chance to assess its current waste stream and formulate a recycling program to align with recommendations provided in the audit findings. M&M plans to take initial actions including the installment of a waste diversion program that engages office, janitorial, and building staff in order to achieve their zero-waste-to-landfill goal. M&M plans to provide each office with its own recycling bin, as well as placing SORT recycling and composting bins in the common & kitchen areas. M&M will also place an Organicycle composting bin outdoors, and is currently working with the property manager regarding shared outdoor recycling dumpsters for paper and plastics. The company’s office administrator will work to train janitorial staff and new & existing employees on the installment of the recycling program, along with coordinating participation of these initiatives throughout the building in which they operate.

Learn more about the Imagine Trash initiative or request a waste audit at wmsbf.org/imagine.

Member News, WMSBF News

Imagine Trash Partner Testimonial: SME USA

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum is still offering a waived co-pay promotion to members that sign up for the Imagine Trash Partner Program. WMSBF currently has 15 of the 50 promotional waste audit slots remaining, so the sooner you reach out the more likely the offering will still be available. The program includes a package of technical resources for small and medium sized organizations in the West Michigan region to improve their recycling efforts and potentially establish zero waste to landfill goals.  Now scheduling waste audits for January and February.
sme-logo-color
This week, WMSBF highlights Imagine Trash Partner Program participant SME USA, a leading Midwest consulting engineering firm with a track record of using big-picture approaches to deliver right-sized, sustainable solutions. SME experts help clients solve issues ranging from tough site development and redevelopment, facility rehabilitation and maintenance, and environmental challenges. With specialists in geotechnical engineering, environmental sciences, materials engineering and testing, and more, SME can deliver the innovative thinking and practical solutions businesses need to obtain real, sustainable success.

In response to the Imagine Trash waste audit performed onsite at SME USA, members within the organization had a chance to assess its current waste stream and formulate recycling program to align with recommendations provided in the audit findings. SME plans to take initial actions including the installment of a single-stream recycling dumpster from its current waste hauler, adding recycling containers in break room and lab/workroom areas, and the centralization of waste bins by removing from personal offices and only including in conference room, break room, and lab/workroom areas, with appropriate signage included. SME will also train and engage new employees & janitorial staff on the diversion programs new procedures to reduce waste and segregate recycling.

Learn more about the Imagine Trash initiative or request a waste audit at wmsbf.org/imagine.

Member News, WMSBF News

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum Merges with Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum has completed a merger with Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum to create the largest regional organization for sustainable business practitioners in the Midwest.

The combined organization, headquartered in Grand Rapids, will serve 220 member organizations and the general community in a 10-county territory that stretches from Muskegon County to the Indiana border with a unified mission of promoting business practices that demonstrate environmental stewardship, economic vitality, and social responsibility.

The merger now allows WMSBF & MGSSBF to share administrative costs and invest more resources to each organizations mission. It is already bringing new programs to the Great Southwest, including a recycling user group based on a successful program in the Grand Rapids area, an initiative to help local events and fairs implement recycling and sustainability programs, and a program to capture unique waste materials for use by artists. Continue reading

Event Review, Member News

Review: Schupan Recycling Tour

Schupan Recycling hosted WMSBF members to a tour of its bottle recycling facility last week.

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Photos from the event can be found at our Facebook page.

The program included a presentation on Schupan’s recycling efforts, a Q&A session, tutorials in their demo area, and a guided walk-through of the indoor & outdoor recycling areas.

The 55,000-square foot facility processes 45,000 tons of material each year, including most Michigan deposit containers collected west of US-27, and miscellaneous other items, such as commodity material collected from events and full-product destruction.

WMSBF is trying to find ways to offer more value to its members through member-only events and mixers such as this.  We hope that members will share these opportunities with their colleagues and network so that they might take advantage of these services as well.

Member News, Norman Christopher

Norman Christopher: Where is Sustainability Headed in the Future?

With all of the recent changes on the national political scene, many business and organization leaders have raised the question of where sustainability is headed in the future. There are expressed concerns about the continuing support for ongoing programs and initiatives, especially those around environmental sustainability. Some of those issue areas include protection of our natural environment and the watersheds here in West Michigan, as well as the ongoing work in climate impact, preparedness, and resiliency. To begin, there are no quick and easy answers! However, I do believe that a positive picture can be painted based on the approaches being taken here in West Michigan.

Continue reading

Member News, WMSBF News

November Member News Round-Up

Haris Alibašić has left his position as director of the office of sustainability and energy at City of Grand Rapids for a professorship at University of Western Florida. At his going-away party this week, WMSBF honored Haris with a plaque thanking him for his work on behalf or the city and the forum.

SpartanNash Corporate Responsibility Report is now available at SpartanNash.com/CR-Report. The report provides a timeline of SpartanNash’s corporate responsibility journey, as well as information on the company’s corporate giving, volunteer program, recycling efforts, improved transportation fleet efficiency and focus on local and organic products.

Aquinas College was featured in a GRBJ article recognizing last month’s Triple Bottom Line Bash Sustainable Business of the Year award.  Continue reading