Members of the Chumash Casino Resort’s Facilities Department hand sort Styrofoam cups

An estimated 2.2 million Styrofoam cups are used annually at the Chumash Casino Resort. Dart

Container Corp’s CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) program allows the material to

get a second life as picture frames, crown molding and other products

CI: I know you recently earned that incredible ‘Zero Waste’ certification… Did it take five years? MF: For the first two years we saw 90% in front of us, and we kept saying ‘we’re going to get it by the end of this year!’ Then suddenly, upper management told us they were building a 12-storey tower. That changed everything and we had to go back to the drawing board. Even with that stumbling block though, we were able to take that into account and we stayed on track for the five years. We made it and we are super-happy; we were ahead of the game because we got everyone involved. When the changes happened we sat everyone down again, with new team members and new management and told them what we had already done and what we would like to achieve… even though it’s not how we envisioned it five years ago, it works and I believe the system we have now is pretty flexible. If we have another change in the future we can ride that change easier than we perhaps did a few years ago.

casino’s total waste

stream has gone from 7.2 million pounds per year to 2.9 million pounds per year in 2018

pounds of waste stream that we envisioned. That went for everything – our cups, cardboard, cigarette butts, food waste, everything. We had to find people that could take it and grow with us. We found some great vendors out there that five years ago, not many people knew about them but we have been telling everyone about the great work they do. We believe in these programs and if more people use them they will be readily available and more waste recovery will develop.

” Since 2006, the

CI: Was the key to achieving this finding community programmes with existing infrastructure to accommodate your waste products, or did you have to start initiatives yourselves? MF: We had to look for the programs. The ones we got involved with were not perhaps very robust, they were small programs that dealt with very minor waste streams. We found them and let them know what we foresaw, and what our weight was in terms of

CI: It’s terrific that your involvement as an organisation has helped other people in that way, it must have been good for those groups to have the real-world incentive to scale up. MF: Yes, and without that incentive who knows how long some of these programs would have stayed around?

CI: Business are charged for refuse collection and processing – has doing this reduced your costs in that way? MF: All of the programs we have created here have a five-year – or less – return on investment. In our area, they are readily available but you do have to look for them. But what we have done is take the haul charges (the cost of actual waste removal), the labour cost, all the different costs you incur if you throw waste into a big compactor and take it off to landfill, we take that and compare it to how we do on-site separation, how we do buy-backs and things like that. Right now, the overall program is kind of a wash but if you look at all the haul charges we have had in the past compared to now, we have reduced those by about 75%. That’s huge. A company will typically charge you something like $200 to put a dumpster on your property, and another $200 to take it away and replace it with an empty one. If you do that five days a week that’s $1,000 right there; and that doesn’t even factor in the $78-115 per ton charge for landfill waste, and that’s just our local charge. We are saving a lot of money this way, certainly.

CI: So many gaming companies are looking for efficiencies in staffing and here is a gigantic efficiency with no downside – I hope other casinos look to what you’re doing as an example, it’s wonderful. MF: It’s been a fun ride. As a business, if you don’t calculate your return on investments and make a business play on your recycling department, in a bad economy that could be a budget chop. You have to make sure you are tracking all of your costs and labour that goes into it; you have to make sure it lasts and is sustainable. Whoever runs the program also needs to keep up with the business side of the recycling; I’ve done all of that and been able to prove that it is both the right thing to do, and it makes business sense. If you look at it from the outside, you might just say ‘wow, you guys are spending a lot of money on this or that’ but if you go back ten years and compare it, they will understand what a great efficiency it is.

OCTOBER 2019 67

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