EPA honors MGM Resorts for food waste recycling and recovery programs

MGM Resorts International has earned top honors from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for outstanding achievement in food waste recycling programs at the company’s Las Vegas Strip resorts.

The company will be presented with the EPA’s 2011 WasteWise Gold Achievement-Food Recovery Award as part of the agency’s annual competition, which recognizes public and private entities for their environmental sustainability efforts. The EPA gave Gold Achievement awards in 12 sustainability categories.

The EPA WasteWise Gold Achievement Award is the third national award that MGM Resorts has earned for its recycling program. The Glass Packaging Institute recognized MGM Resorts with a 2010 “Friend of Glass” Award for its efforts in glass recycling and the American Forest and Paper Association presented MGM Resorts with the 2011 Business Leadership Recycling award for outstanding contributions to cardboard and paper recycling.

MGM Resorts chronicled its environmental accomplishments in the company’s 2010 Environmental Responsibility Report which can be found here.

“With millions of people dining each year at our 165 restaurants and 11 employee dining rooms located on the Las Vegas Strip, MGM Resorts is committed to leading the way to reduce our waste to landfill,” said MGM Resorts senior vice president of Energy and Environmental Services Cindy Ortega.

During 2010, the company recycled 8,722 tons of food waste at its Las Vegas hotels, which represents 25 percent of all recycled tonnage at the resorts. The accomplishment marks a significant increase in food waste recycling rates since 2007, when the properties first recorded food recovery rates, and recycled 3,353 tons of food waste.

MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas properties partner with RC Farms of North Las Vegas, which feeds 3,000 pigs per day with food scraps from local resorts and casinos. A second partner, Denver-based A1 Organics, sends crews to resort loading docks to gather food waste and haul it to its local composting site.

Criteria for the EPA’s WasteWise Food Recovery Award included: food recovery policies, quantity of food waste prevented or reduced, quantity of food donated or reused, quantity of food waste composted, and the scope of food recovery initiatives implemented.

Food scrap recycling is just one part of a broader strategic approach to environmental sustainability at MGM Resorts. The approach focuses on five key areas: energy and water conservation, green building, recycling and waste management, sustainable supply chain and outreach and education. This strategic framework forms the platform from which MGM Resorts is fundamentally changing the way its resorts do business. MGM Resorts chronicled its environmental accomplishments in the company’s 2010 Environmental Responsibility Report.

Food waste is the second largest waste stream in the United States after paper, according to the EPA. During 2009, 34 million tons of food waste were generated in the United States. Of that, 33 million tons, or 97 percent was thrown away into landfills or incinerators. When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill they decompose and become a significant source of methane.