What happens in Vegas…is trash that gets recycled

What happens in Vegas…is more sustainable than you know.

Part 1 of 3 part blog series.

Like sustainability, I believe that visiting Vegas is also a journey, not just a destination. The city is never the same when you go back. Las Vegas constantly evolves to keep up with its attractiveness and appeal. Strangely, I am relating Las Vegas to the term sustainability because anyone involved with it knows that in order to be sustainable, you are also creatively evolving in innovation, collaboration and opportunity.

I recently toured the Venetian|Palazzo resort property with Pranav Jampani, the Assistant Director for Sustainability, who oversees all the sustainability education and operations for the Las Vegas Sands, which includes the Palazzo|Venetian and the Sands Expo. Sustainability is part of their corporate strategy and part of their Sands Eco 360 program.

It was impressive to learn about all the green initiatives that they are doing right here in Las Vegas. For 2014, the Las Vegas Sands was ranked 18th in the U.S. and 28th in the world by Newsweek, which annually ranks the world’s largest companies on corporate sustainability and environmental impact.

Las Vegas Sands (source: Newsweek)

Energy productivity 35.9%
Carbon productivity 60.6%
Water productivity 69.2%
Waste productivity 49%
Reputation 72.2%
Pay link – yes
Sustainability themed committee – yes
Audit – yes
Overall Newsweek Green Score 66.6%

 

When you visit Vegas, you don’t think about recycling or saving water or saving energy, you are probably thinking about vacationing, gambling and partying. However, what happens in Vegas, believe it or not, actually gets recycled and repurposed. Now, don’t let your mind go south ….come back….and think about sustainability and the environment with me.

Recycling is a big operation at the property and all of it gets hand-sorted. That’s right, after you throw away your trash, someone else will handle it and sort it into a specific area, whether that is recycling, composting or waste. Gross! The trash all goes into one container, at least in the Palazzo.

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Vegas Trash

 Sometimes things like silverware, glasses and plates get tossed into the trash too, so the employees salvage those items and return them back to the restaurants and bars that they came from. Cardboard and plastic gets baled, metal and glass gets separated out, and food waste goes to either a composting vendor or the local pig farm, R.C. Farms. Yes, I said pig farm. The owner of the pig farm collects food scraps from several resorts on The Strip and creates a slop soup to feed his pigs. Pigs love leftovers! Here is an article and video from the LA Times about Bob Combs and his pigs, Nevada pig farmer relishes role as recycler.

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The property recycles about 1200 tons a month and throws about 900 tons a month into the landfill. This equates to about a 60 percent diversion, which is super impressive! One tactic that helps in this operation is something that Pranav called “upstream” recycling. Upstream recycling helps offset the time in having to separate waste by hand. Basically they have containers in areas that help source-separate recyclables before it lands in the recycling dock under the property. Upstream recycling helps save time, labor and money in the separation operation. Some of these areas include the employee areas, such as the cafeterias, and the Venetian has separation between trash and bottles/cans. Items they recycle regularly include: paper, plastic, metal, glass, food waste, ink cartridges, electronic waste and batteries. Other items during phases of construction include metal and concrete.

Recycling separation opportunity in the employee cafeteria.

Recycling separation in the employee cafeteria.

So behind those lovely trash and recycling containers throughout the Venetian|Palazzo, is a huge underground waste reduction operation!

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Fancy trash/recycling receptacles in the Venetian.

 

Part 2 of “What Happens in Vegas…” will be about green building and energy efficiency and will get posted Thursday, June 19, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

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