Although our biggest impacts derive from energy use and transportation, it’s also important to do the right thing on a daily, smaller scale by seeking to reduce waste in many different settings, and to re-use or recycle everything possible. Many of these items are actions that we encourage guests to undertake back home – often you’ll see posters at the resort with that message.
Foodservice Waste Reduction and Composting – We’ve already ended the use of Styrofoam© products due to concern over environmental impacts, and all of our hot and cold cups are now recyclable paper, or compostable. All of the disposable food containers we buy are made from certified compostable and renewable cornstarch or paperboard (not plastic) and many also contain recycled content. This not only reduces reliance on non-renewable petrochemical products, but also means that we can compost the waste. After a successful pilot program, we now close the loop even further by collecting food waste and all compostable disposables from all kitchens, restaurants, bars and cafeterias, as well as the ski school, ski patrol, Nordic center, and other staff lunchrooms. A giant dishline waste grinder and dewatering machine (a “SOMAT”) installed in our busiest lodge shrinks the volume of kitchen food scraps by up to 90% prior to the composting process. Approximately 30 cubic yards (8 tons) of compost every month in the winter are hauled down to a commercial compost facility by Cedar Grove, Inc and converted into topsoil within 60 days. By downsizing dumpster service, composting is cost-neutral and helps reduce our carbon footprint.
Water Conservation – In order to reduce chemical and energy usage, and save money and water, we operate two parallel water systems here at the resort: a non-potable supply feeds toilets, urinals, and fire sprinklers, while a separate fully-treated spring-fed supply connects to sinks and food operations. In addition, instrumentation and efficiency upgrades to our treatment plant in the past three years have reduced the waste of potable (treated) water by over 1 million gallons/yr. We are adding gauges to individual buildings to monitor usage more accurately, and we have run efficiency pilot projects, such as upgrading an employee men’s room to all low-flow or automatic fixtures. By swapping out the toilet, urinal, and sink, that single (very busy) restroom saves 60,000 gallons of water annually.
Energy Efficiency Initiatives – We’re always looking for opportunities to improve the energy use of our facilities. In early 2010 we commissioned regional experts MacDonald-Miller to conduct an energy audit of our largest buildings and have been tackling the upgrades ever since, starting with smaller projects such as T-8 fluorescent eco-bulbs (80% less mercury), electronic ballasts (40% more efficient), LED bulbs, occupancy sensors, timers, insulation, etc. After that, we tackled larger projects, such as elevator air dampers (keeping warm air in the building more of the time), variable-frequency drive kitchen hoods (no need to run at full speed all the time), and furnace upgrades. The air dampers alone have a payback of just 12 months, and will then will save $5,000/yr in avoided energy waste.
Hazardous Waste Reduction – As part of our significant industrial recycling program, we collect all disposable, vehicle, and rechargeable batteries and transport them to an approved recycler. In order to keep mercury out of the air and ultimately the groundwater, we also collect and properly recycle all fluorescent light tubes and CFLs. At our Vehicle Shop, we removed the petrochemical solvent-based parts washer in 2004 and replaced it with a water-based system that uses low hazard citrus cleaner. In addition, oil and grime from vehicle washing are collected, filtered, and sent to a hazmat facility.
Reusable Tableware – All locations with waitstaff serve meals on durable, washable plates and employ metal flatware and drinking glasses that can be used indefinitely; our cafeterias all use at least some melamine tableware and plastic baskets with long lifespans.
Reuse of Waste Cooking Oil, Motor Oil & Antifreeze – Approximately 400 gallons/month of spent fryer oils are collected by a biodiesel company; vehicle oils, crankcase and hydraulic fluids are collected, filtered, and burned in a high-efficiency furnace to supplement the heating of the Vehicle Shop; and all anti-freeze from over 40 vehicles, including snowcats, is filtered and reused for required steel rail lubrication on the high-speed quads.
Rental Fleet Equipment Reuse – When it’s time to renew our rental fleet of skis and snowboards, we sell the older models to other resorts in the business; old uniforms are donated to less-privileged cold mountain communities around the planet.
Aggressive and Expanded Recycling System – In 2008, we began a dramatic expansion of our recycling programs to include all staff areas and kitchens, public base areas, the top and bottom of all lifts, parking lots, and various off-mountain staff housing. Under this new arrangement, our guests and staff are generating approximately 25 cubic yards (3,500 pounds) of mixed recycling every 10 days, reducing landfill impacts and saving disposal money. Materials captured include: aluminum cans, coffee and soda cups, glass, paper and paperboard, plastic bottles and containers, and steel tins.
Industrial and E-Waste Recycling – One of our most common industrial materials is corrugated cardboard, which we collect resort-wide, compact into tight bales at each of the three lodges, and sell at a rate of about 10,000lbs/month. We also recycle numerous other materials such as scrap metals, appliances, rubber tires, batteries, fluorescent lights, electronics, copier/toner cartridges, etc. Every year, under our ongoing upgrade program, we properly recycle approximately 25 old monitors, 25 aging PC’s, various printers, and many boxes of other electronic products. Under special agreement, Coca Cola delivery trucks recycle all of our pallet-wrap plastic film. In the summer of 2011, we installed new carpets in our largest lodge, but only after finding a vendor that would recycle the old material: over 13,000sq ft, equivalent to five tennis courts.
Surplus and Reuse – An active surplus property program seeks to re-allocate, re-use, or donate serviceable items such as office furniture to staff or local groups. We have also arranged with food and beverage vendors to take back used freight pallets at the end of each delivery for reuse (approx. 20-30/week). The back side of banners and placards is used again at our in-house sign shop; ski poles become stakes for signage. Building materials of all types are reused as much as possible: old lift towers are cut up for road gates, light-posts, and culverts; metal roofing is salvaged for lift shacks; lumber from remodeling is used again for other small rebuilds; after a 2009 cabin fire we even salvaged the remaining unburned wood!
100% Recycled Paper – All the office paper we purchase resort-wide is 100% post-consumer content, recycled stock, and all bulk printers/copiers are set to default to duplex printing. All of our outsourced marketing materials (posters, flyers) are printed on FSC-Certified, 100% recycled cardstock with soy inks; and our mountain map is printed on 100% recycled paper. All restroom paper towel (which is unbleached) and toilet paper products are also 100% recycled, with approximately 30% post-consumer content; paper towel dispensers utilize sensors to minimize waste.
Recycled Garbage Bags –We go through about 25,000 bags a year for our garbage and recycling needs, so it makes sense to look for ways to reduce the impacts of an item that we have to throw away. Unlike almost everything else on the market, our plastic bags are made in the USA, and have 35-65% post-consumer recycled content.
E-Marketing – As much as possible, marketing materials are made available electronically in order to save paper and other resources; our on-site sign shop produces most of our resort artwork, avoiding many unnecessary trips to the city.