It used to be just garbage, but now the food scraps that come out of the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa’s kitchen preparation areas are being diverted into that new gold standard — compost.
And all the paper, cardboard, tin and aluminum the kitchens use also are being recycled.
“We’re not there 100 percent, but I think 80 percent,” Sergio Guzman, the property’s executive steward, said of the recycling program. “As times goes on, I think we’ll get to 95 percent. ... I’ll not say 100 percent, but we have come a long way.”
“Green” is one of the 21st century’s buzzwords, and it’s also making inroads in business and industry. Companies large and small have worked out ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly, both for their own improvement and to correspond with green-oriented customers.
Among local efforts, the Atlantis and Waste Management came up with their partnership for the hotel casino, putting the program into effect in December, with an emphasis on organics recycling.
“At first, it was successful with people actually doing the separation,” Guzman said. “Then, we color-coded the containers to make it easier. It worked.”
Guzman is amazed at how much organic recycling materials the property produces. In the first week, the materials filled about a quarter of the space in an industrial-size trash receptacle. Now, Waste Management collects a full container’s worth daily with material generated from Atlantis restaurants.
Waste Management estimates the Atlantis initially will divert about 80 yards of organic waste a month from the local landfill, and that volume will grow.
From the Atlantis, the organic materials go to Full Circle Compost, a Minden compost producer.
“We try to get 100-percent clean compost for them,” Guzman said. “Waste Management says we’re very clean. They’re very happy.”
This is how it works: In the kitchens are color-coded barrels for recyclable materials — green for organics such as peels and stems cut away from fruits and vegetables during food preparation, pasta, bread and other compostable foods; blue for single-stream recycling of plastics, aluminum, tin and other materials; and gray for garbage.
Glass eventually will be added to the recycling list, Guzman said.
The recyclable food scraps go to Full Circle and become compost used for soil improvement.
Justin Caporusso of Waste Management said the Atlantis initiative is the first organics recycling program at a hotel-casino in Northern Nevada, but probably not the only one.
Some grocery companies also have organics and single-stream recycling programs, Caporusso said, with some smaller businesses also hoping to get on board.
“It’s a way to divert (waste) from the landfill,” he said. “So, they really have to be into ‘green.’ Atlantis is into that.”
The costs for such a program mainly are in added transportation costs for moving the organic recycling to the compost facility, he said.
“And it does take training,” Caporusso said. “Education is the key component.”
Green operations are good for businesses such as hotel-casinos because these days convention organizers often seek out properties that have such operations.
“So, it’s an economic benefit and also an environmental benefit,”
Organic recycling among businesses is becoming more widespread, said Craig Witt of Full Circle Compost. Having more companies on a collection route can provide cost savings as well.
The organic material coming from the Atlantis is like a succulent buffet for compost-building worms and microbes, Witt said with a laugh.
“A load last week was pineapple tops swimming along with garlic, carrots, herbs,” he said.