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CMU helps casino and resort implement first zero-waste event

CMU makes zero-waste event possible

Contact: Heather Smith

​​The Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort’s first ever zero-waste event, The Michigan Association of Physical Plant Administrators’ winter conference, resulted from a year-long study by Central Michigan University students.

The event, which took place Feb. 10 and 11, is the second phase of an assessment of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s waste management efforts by students in CMU’s Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems. The tribe looked to GLISS to provide expertise on how to better manage and reduce excess amounts of waste generated within the casino and resort and at large events.

“This conference was an ideal opportunity for a zero-waste event because all attendees are working on improving sustainability in their operations,” said GLISS Director Tom Rohrer.

Conference organizers, working in conjunction with the tribe, GLISS and CMU’s facilities management team, planned and implemented the following recycling efforts for the event:

  • containers were brought in to recycle metal, plastic waste and recyclable paper;
  • cardboard was collected and recycled;
  • all resort rooms were equipped with recycling containers; and,
  • food and organic waste were collected and taken to a large agricultural complex that recycles organic waste.

“We expect to have less than 2 percent waste. Under federal EPA definitions any event that recycles or reuses more than 90 percent of its waste is qualified as a zero-waste event,” said Rohrer.

CMU junior Meghan Marx, senior Parker Reitler and Rohrer worked with the tribe’s environmental staff during the past year to identify gaps in recycling efforts at the Soaring Eagle. They developed recommendations for waste reduction and recycling at the casino and resort, which then were presented to and accepted by the tribe.

"Seeing the zero waste event take place was an inspiring step in the implementation of our work,” said Marx. “This step toward overall sustainability makes me hopeful for the future of the casino."

The Environmental Protection Agency Region Five provided funding for the assessment.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems here.


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