Fairmont Chateau Whistler guests and employees should give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back.
According to the most recent waste audit, done Sept. 8-9, there was a marked improvement from both guests and hotel employees in the separation of recyclable and compostable garbage from the waste stream. The figures were released on Sept. 26.
A group of 15 volunteer intercepted all of the solid waste collected in the hotel between noon on Sept. 8 and noon the following day, and went through it bag by bag. Some 372 kilograms (827 pounds) of waste was processed, not all of it pretty. Among the uglier items discovered were a used condom and a hunk of raw meat.
Overall, however, the audit was something for hotel employees to celebrate.
"The biggest story is, on a per guest basis, we dropped the amount of waste going to landfill per guest by 33 per cent compared to the previous two audits," says Dan Wilson, the environmental co-ordinator for the Fairmont Chateau.
"We accomplished that in a couple of ways. We established a composting program with International Bio Recovery, which we?re doing well with at our food and beverage outlets.
"We also improved our diversion of recyclables out of the waste stream, starting with the guests in the room, and up through all of our departments."
The guest directory explains the Fairmont Chateau?s recycling program for guests, and bins are provided that allow them to separate paper, plastics, glass and metal.
It was estimated in past audits that the hotel produces about 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of garbage per guest, per day. According to this most recent audit, that was reduced to 0.3 kg (0.67 pounds).
"We didn?t have as many groups staying in the hotel during this time period, and usually large groups and conferences produce more waste, but we?re looking at it as a significant improvement," says Wilson.
The amount of food waste diverted to International Bio Recovery, a North Vancouver company that can process any food waste into fertilizer in about 72 hours ? and which is represented locally by Resort Recycling Initiatives ? was also significant.
"We collected all the food waste that was headed to IBR because we wanted to find out how much we were composting, what was being diverted. We found that we were composting 85 per cent of all the food waste generated by the hotel, which is even as we speak being turned into fertilizer for things like golf courses and lawns," says Wilson.
The pastry department was especially helpful, recycling 100 per cent of all food waste during the one-day audit period.
Wilson says these kinds of audits have been crucial is measuring the effectiveness of the various recycling and composting projects underway at the Fairmont Chateau.
"Just by doing the audit we have some baseline measurements that we can hopefully improve on. We?ll be doing another audit in about six months and hopefully we?ll see more improvement at that point."
Carney?s Waste Systems is now accepting plastics, including plastic bags and saran wrap, and Wilson says systems will be adopted to divert these items from the waste stream. He will also meet with the different food and beverage outlets within the hotel to learn specific ways that the hotel can make it easier for employees to recycle and compost.
The audit itself has a positive effect in educating the hotel?s employees.
"A lot of people may not see what is going into the garbage and what we are throwing out. It makes you think. In turn they talk to other people and educate them. If they?re sorting garbage, they take more care to make sure their waste doesn?t end up in the garbage," says Wilson.
"Judging by the improvements we?ve made, people are paying attention."