Transforming the World Through Reuse

June’s Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable

Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable
Pictured from left-right: Jim Hartzfeld, Moderator; Bill Bolling, Atlanta Community Food Bank; Adam Deck, Lifecycle Building Center; Michael Halicki, Southface; Charles Redding, MedShare. Photo by Fitz of Studio Fitz.

This morning at All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta, roundtable attendees learned about three mission-driven non-profits whose business models are based on waste and reuse. They are in the business of diverting waste from landfills and transporting it to people who need it most. They are in the business of transformation. Why? Because waste is dead wrong & stupid!

Jim Hartzfeld moderated the three-person panel discussion. The three speakers were:

Bill BollingFounder and Executive Director
, Atlanta Community Food Bank. Bill has served as Executive Director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank since founding the organization in 1979.

Charles ReddingChief Operating Officer, MedShare. Charles has over 25 years of industry experience, including 23 years with Johnson
 & Johnson.

Adam DeckDirector of Operations, Lifecycle Building Center. The mission of the LBC is to make the lifecycle use of the built environment increasingly efficient and sustainable.

Each speaker offered unique highlights of why they do what they do and also how they do it. Here are a few highlights:

Bill Boling from The Atlanta Food Bank helped to change IRS rules so that companies that donated food that was one day before it’s expiration could write off ½ of the full value of the food.

Bill also noted that the food bank wants to treat everyone they serve with dignity; carbs are almost free but nutritious food costs money.

Some other highlights from The Atlanta Food Bank include:

  • In the last four years 20% of the people who came for assistance had never asked for help before; they used to be donors
  • The Food Bank has built 175 community gardens

Charles Redding from MedShare shared the following:

  • Medical supply surplus generated in U.S. now goes to developing countries
  • Regulations in the healthcare industry can generate waste; MedShare has placed collection bins in hospitals
  • Excess items are charged to the patient and then thrown away (they are unused and unopened)
  • MedShare refurbishes medical equipment and makes sure it goes to medical professionals that will actually use it
  • If equipment is made obsolete and cannot be used in the U.S., it is not shipped out to a developing country either.

Adam Deck from Lifecycle Building Center shared with us that:

  • 15% of construction solid waste is reusable
  • Collected material is inventoried; they focus on waste reduction

These organizations have all found ways to reuse the items they collect by using it in better ways. They all use sophisticated inventory systems. They are all reliant on volunteers; a lot of services are donated including technical services. After listening to this informative panel discussion, we all realized that these organizations are much more sophisticated, nimble, and creative than we think they are.

To learn more about Lifecycle Building Center:


If you would like to volunteer for one of these organizations:

Atlanta Community Food Bank