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Evaluating the Transportation Dilemma
During 2008, Xanterra evaluated the cost of recycling versus the cost of landfill disposal in Garfield County, Utah to determine where costs and resource consumption in recycling efforts might be reduced, and solid waste diversion rates might be increased. Using Xanterra’s tracking numbers for solid waste, it was determined that the cost to dispose of waste in the landfill was 4.9 cents per pound. Using recycling and fuel usage tracking numbers, it was determined that the cost to recycle was 27.9 cents per pound. The difference in cost was in transportation costs. Xanterra spent over $3,300 and approximately 400 gallons of fuel to transport recyclables on a trailer pulled by a full-size pick-up truck during 2007.
Bryce Canyon National Park also was hauling recyclables and, after reviewing Xanterra’s numbers determined that a partnership might be a way to make recycling more efficient.
Bringing Glass Recycling to Southern Utah
For several years, guests visiting Bryce Canyon Lodge from places where recycling is more sophisticated than it has been in Southern Utah have inquired regarding the lack of glass recycling in the park. Until 2008, the nearest glass recycler was located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it had been determined that hauling glass from Bryce Canyon Lodge to Las Vegas would not reduce pollution, but would increase it by increasing fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions. In early 2008, Xanterra pledged to provide all glass from Zion Lodge and from Bryce Canyon Lodge to a new recycler in nearby Cedar City, Utah. The National Park Service pledged its glass collected from Bryce Canyon National Park and a glass pulverizer to the recycler, and glass recycling in Southern Utah became a reality. Lodge staff hauled its first load of glass to Cedar City in May 2008. The weight of the collected glass was 2,000 pounds. By the end of 2008, Bryce Canyon Lodge had collected and hauled 11,800 pounds of glass for recycling. Bryce Canyon National Park collected 17,000 pounds of glass, mostly from the campgrounds within the park.
Creating a Partnership
After discussion with several waste haulers, Bryce Canyon National Park initiated contact with Garfield County to assemble a proposal to haul recycling to Cedar City. Because Garfield County was already contracted by Xanterra to haul solid waste to the landfill, Garfield County proposed to haul both trash and recycling in separate hauls on a weekly basis. Bryce Canyon National Park determined that the proposal was feasible and both Bryce Canyon National Park and Xanterra signed a contract that stipulated Garfield County would haul all recyclables generated in the park. This partnership is the first of its kind in Southern Utah in that a national park, a concessioner, and a local government entity have entered into an agreement to handle recyclables more efficiently. The model is already being investigated for feasibility by the Washington County Solid Waste District, The partnership is already being eyed for expansion into Bryce Canyon City, the location of Ruby’s Inn (the largest hotel in Garfield County) and the gateway community to Bryce Canyon National Park,. Escalante, Boulder, and other rural communities are also expressing interest. The efforts of Bryce Canyon National Park and Xanterra to create a feasible partnership have left this rural Utah County poised to further open the door for greatly improved solid waste diversion throughout the area.
Donations: Helping the Community Recycle
Xanterra learned during 2008 that in two rural Garfield County communities, Escalante and Boulder, , interested individuals had begun working to develop infrastructure to begin recycling. Escalante Petrified Forest State Park was also interested in getting recycling started inside the park but lacked containers to collect recyclables to participate in the fledgling Escalante and Boulder recycling initiatives. Xanterra donated about twenty containers that were not being used at Bryce Canyon Lodge to the state park to begin collecting guest recycling. Additionally, during several 2008 summer events in surrounding communities, the park provided recycling bins to collect materials for participants. Material was then returned to the park, processed and transported to Cedar City. By supporting recycling efforts in the surrounding rural communities in Garfield County, Xanterra and the park have demonstrated a commitment to support and encourage this important effort in southern Utah.
Making Recycling Convenient for Visitors and Guests
Xanterra undertook specific measures during 2008 to increase the diversion of solid waste from the landfill and learned from the successes some specific lessons that can now be applied at other properties including Zion Lodge in Zion National Park. The lessons were simple, but constitute an innovation, in part because of the results that were achieved.
Xanterra learned that making recycling increasingly convenient also makes it increasingly successful. Five new bear-proof containers were added to high traffic areas around the general store and western cabin guest rooms at the lodge to decrease the walking distance between receptacles. Also, wooden receptacles were added to the motel units at the lodge, replacing older, less user-friendly receptacles to make it more convenient for guests to place recycling in the receptacle. All of these containers are conspicuously labeled to aid in waste segregation and, in the motel units, the receptacles are side-by-side so that guests do not need to search for the proper receptacle for the commodity. Xanterra was able to measure a marked, dramatic increase in the number of times the containers needed to be emptied around those areas, indicating an increase in usage by guests.
Bryce Canyon National Park expanded the type of commodities accepted at campground recycling stations and improved signage to increase the success of waste segregation. As a result, Bryce Canyon recycled more of its total solid waste than in any previous year collecting 14.5 tons of recyclables, an increase of 9.4 tons over 2007. Xanterra hauled some of this waste for the park prior to the finalizing of the partnership agreement with Garfield County.
Changing the “Look” of Recycling
Xanterra also learned that making recycling attractive increases the success rate. The new receptacles in the motel units, although about 30% larger than the old receptacles they replaced, were emptied at least daily and sometimes twice as they filled to overflowing during the summer and early fall. The previous receptacles were emptied about every other day. The new motel unit receptacles are equipped with a hinged lid for easy access and the wooden construction was designed to match the ambience of the interior of the building. Avoiding an institutional appearance has made recycling in the motels look as though it fits into the culture of the park, which accomplishes a guest outreach goal.
Achieving & Tracking Results - Xanterra
Xanterra tracks all solid waste, weighing recycling before it goes to the MRF and using waste audits to measure solid waste to the landfill. Quantitative baseline information regarding the past operations and programs has also been incorporated through Xanterra’s Baseline Resource Tracking System (BRTS). The BRTS is used to track natural resource conservation as well as consumption including: electricity, natural gas, solid waste to the landfill, solid waste recycled, water, gasoline, diesel, propane, hazardous waste, hazardous waste recycled, and fuel oil. Effective solid waste tracking has allowed Xanterra to calculate an annual solid waste diversion rate (percentage of total solid waste diverted from the landfill) and to identify areas where improvement is possible.
DOI Guidance for Federal Facilities
- Guidance encourages the concessioner to divert for recycling, solid waste at rate of 40 % by 2000, 45% by year 2005 and 50% by year 2010. (DOI Strategic Plan). They also encourage Recycling and/or composting of 40% of waste stream by 2002 and 50% by 2010.
- Xanterra’s Bryce Canyon Lodge operation has gone beyond this guidance by increasing the solid waste diversion rate to 59.7%, recycling over 85,000 pounds of material. Total solid waste to the landfill was reduced by 20% in 2008 compared to 2007. A few keys to this success not previously mentioned include:
- Xanterra switched from serving bottled beer in our dining room to micro brewed beer on tap, saving over 10,000 lbs of waste glass annually.
- Through our ISO 14001 certified Ecologix EMS, Xanterra has been educating guests and staff on the benefits of reducing, re-using, and recycling. (Bryce Canyon National Park uses its interpretive staff to accomplish this goal).
- Xanterra has initiated a program with its vendors rewarding them for reducing the packaging that comes with their products that they sell in retail operations. Xanterra mailed 168 letters to vendors in 2008.
- Xanterra reuses items as much as possible during day-to-day operations including linens in the dining room, rags in housekeeping and packaging in the gift shop.
Below is a summary of Xanterra’s tracking numbers.