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Atlanta Declares Itself a 'Zero Waste Zone'

First there was Atlanta’s “Carbon Neutral Zone.” Now the capital of Georgia is proclaiming its downtown area a “Zero Waste Zone.”

The Zero Waste Zone was announced last week through a partnership between local restaurants and the convention center that will divert tons of garbage, food scraps and used cooking oil from landfills.

The participants will begin composting leftover food and sending spent grease for conversion to biofuel. The Georgia World Congress Center, Hyatt Regency, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and more than a half-dozen other businesses are participating in the initiative’s first phase, which focuses on the downtown area. The project was created by the Green Foodservice Alliance and Atlanta Recycles, which are working in conjunction with the EPA's Region 4 and the Dept. of Natural Resources’ Pollution Prevention Assistance Division.

Composting leftover food from the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome will prevent about 34 tons of waste from hitting landfills and produce more than 20 tons of compost each month.

In the project's second phase, Atlanta Recycles and the Green Foodservice Alliance will expand the program to other businesses in the convention district before spreading to other areas of the city in the third phase, such as Midtown or Buckhead. The Zero Waste Zone will expand beyond the city in the fourth phase.

The group claims the Zero Waste Zone is the Southeast’s first, and one of the first in the nation.

Atlanta is also the home of a “Carbon Neutral Zone.” Also billed as the nation’s first, the Carbon Neutral Zone is a small neighborhood shopping and dining district whose businesses offset their annual energy consumption. 

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