It has to be the lowliest of volunteer jobs but, in the name of going green, 15 intrepid vollies donned coveralls, masks and gloves and dug into a mountain of trash generated by the Chateau Whistler in a 24 hour period.
In all the vollies sorted through 1,150 pounds of garbage on Sunday, May 20. Why?
It was the Chateau Whistlers second annual waste audit.
A similar task was undertaken last year for the first audit. The goal is to see how much stuff guests and staff at the Chateau are throwing out that could be recycled and diverted from the landfill.
The results show whether current recycling efforts are working and they highlight areas that need more effort.
There was not a huge change in the findings this year over last, however.
The Chateaus Jennifer Stitt reports that 410 pounds of the garbage came from the guests rooms and 1,140 pounds from the food and beverage outlets. This is the stuff destined for the Whistler landfill. The Chateau already diverts waste into three streams: recyclable materials which are collected by Carneys Waste Systems; organic materials which are pulped and turned to soil by red wiggler worms and the rest which goes to the dump.
Of the waste earmarked for the dump, the volly team this year found that 15 per cent was actually recyclable and 55 per cent was organic. Only the remaining 29 per cent was non-recyclable and sanctioned for the landfill.
Last year the percentage of organics in the garbage was lower, at 50 per cent, but this year did see an improvement in the amount of recyclable material finding its way to the dump. Last year recyclables made up 25 per cent of the days trash.
The amount of waste generated by guests in their rooms this year was down 36 per cent from the average 2.19 pounds per guest last year. This year each guest generated an average 1.4 pounds in the 24 hours.
Of the guests room waste this year, 34 per cent was still recyclable and 15 per cent was organic. Of the food and beverage waste, nine per cent was recyclable and 69 per cent was organic.
Stitt noted that if the Chateau produces the same amount of garbage on a daily basis, in one year the hotel would add 565,750 pounds to the Whistler landfill, 70 per cent of which could be sorted and diverted.
"Less than one third really needs to go to the landfill," said Stitt. "A further 414,286 pounds could be diverted per year. Organics and recyclables are not garbage if we put them in the landfill we are throwing away perfectly good stuff than can be made into fertilizer, fleece, paper, new cans and much more."
The Chateau team has highlighted areas for action. For example, the retail and spa division still does no recycling. The health club is generating a large number of wax-lined disposable cups and in the kitchen, aluminum tart containers are not being recycled. Large amounts of individual butter, jam, peanut butter, honey and creamer containers were also found in the audit. In administration, paper, plastics and organics are not separated.
Staff members will be encouraging buying things like butter, creamers and jams in bulk, sourcing out non-wax cups and working to educate all employees on benefits of working to go green.