The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe enlisted the help of Central Michigan University students to help better manage waste generated at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort.
“The Soaring Eagle brings in thousands of people every year and a great amount of waste is generated,” said CMU Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems Director Tom Rohrer. “The tribe looked to our institute to provide some expertise on how to better manage and reduce the excess amounts of waste generated within the casino and resort as well as at their large events.”
GLISS is working to identify gaps in the recycling efforts at the Soaring Eagle and develop a program to collect, manage and properly dispose of materials such as paper, plastic, tin, metal, glass, food waste and hazardous waste.
“Funding for this study was received from the Environmental Protection Agency Region Five to conduct this assessment and the results will be shared with other tribal enterprises,” said Sally Kniffen, environmental specialist for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. “The project is the perfect example of working together to protect the environment.”
Since the project began in the fall of 2013, Rohrer and two students have spent several hours assessing the tribe’s current waste management efforts. To review and assess the types and volume of waste generated, the team conducted observations inside the casino and resort and attended two large events, one indoors and one outdoors.
CMU junior Meghan Marx says working on this project has been a positive experience.
“I’ve been able to be very hands-on in this project, even meeting with leaders of the tribe and the CEO of the casino and resort,” said Marx. “This project has helped me realize that I want to pursue a career in sustainability consulting for big businesses.”
Parker Reitler, a CMU senior studying biomedical sciences and chemistry, is supplementing his science background with knowledge on sustainability practices.
“This project has been a welcome and eye-opening insight into both the business side and environmental side of a large business,” said Reitler. “We hope our work will help improve their budget as well as the environment.”
From their assessment, the team created a waste audit for the tribe. This audit will then help the team provide the tribe with recommendations for waste reduction and recycling at the casino and resort. Final recommendations should be delivered sometime this fall.