Tribal Green Casinos: Food Waste

Tribal Green Casinos: Solid Waste and Food Recovery

Food Waste

Presented by Andrew Shakman of LeanPath, Inc.

Food waste is a global problem of breathtaking scope:

  • 1/3 of all food globally is wasted
  • 1.3 Billion tons of food aren’t consumed
  • 40% of all food grown or raised in America is not consumed
  • 50% rise in food waste in the last 30 years
  • $250 billion lost annually
  • 25% of all freshwater and 300 million barrels of oil are used to produce food that is wasted

Food Waste is the single largest component that is sent to landfills which are significant source of methane gas; a potent greenhouse gas which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Food waste is responsible for 135 million tons of greenhouse gases every year, or about 1.5% of GHG emissions globally.

How much of this problem stems from the food service industry?

  • 4-10% of purchased food is thrown out before reaching a plate
  • 8-20 billion dollars of pre-consumer waste is generated each year in the U.S. by way of our homes and food service industry

There are two types of food waste in the food service industry:

  • Pre-consumer: “kitchen Waste” due to overproduction spoilage, expirations, trim waste etc. Pre-consumer waste is controlled entirely by the kitchen staff.
  • Post-consumer: “plate waste” due to patron behaviors, self service, portion sizes etc. Post-consumer waste is controlled by kitchen staff and guests.

Hierarchy for managing food waste:

  • Source reduction – Prevention and minimization of food waste by reducing the amount of food generated. Best results require time and energy.
  • Feeding hungry people – Donate extra food to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters.
  • Feed animals – Divert food scraps to feed animals.
  • Industrial uses – Provide waste oils for rendering, fuel conversion and food scraps for digestion to recover energy.
  • Composting – Create nutrient rich soil amendment.
  • Landfill / Incineration – the last resort

Any solution we bring needs to begin with culture rather than strategy. Create a culture within your facility, that is ready to reduce waste. In order to create such a culture you must acknowledge stigmas.

  • Many culinary professionals think waste is a sign of negligence; acknowledging waste is like saying you are doing a poor job. This is NOT TRUE.
  • Some culinary professionals will claim: “our operation has very little (or no) food waste.” In such a situation ASK: how much waste do you have EXACTLY?

All kitchens have waste. Those that talk about waste, solve the problem. Food waste is bad. Acknowledging and addressing food waste is good. Careful planning does not lead to zero food waste because food waste is ultimately about behavior. It is the manager’s job to plan the work and everyone’s job to work the plan. This is done by engaging your team by setting specific and focused goals. An anti-waste culture needs to be: data driven, goal-focused, open, transparent and positive, engaging and inclusive towards every team member. Food waste is a challenge which requires ongoing vigilance. Just like quality, safety and sanitation, food waste is a matter of regular practice. This is not a problem that can be fixed and forgotten. Embrace data: Finding and recording data is crucial to begining the journey of reducing food waste. Data will help keep your kitchen organized and will enable you to see where the food waste is coming from and how the waste can be prevented.

View the food waste prevention fact sheet

Mohegan Sun’s Food Waste and Recycling Program

Presented by Jean McInnis, Environmental Protection Administrator for the Mohegan Sun Casino

Mohegan Sun’s three casinos and 1200 room hotel have avoided incineration costs through a smartly planned food waste and recycling program which started in 2002. Every morning at 4 a.m., waste meat and veggies are picked up from Mohegan kitchens and restaurants by Millaras Piggery, a service for which Mohegan pays approximately $7 a barrel. All grease from the kitchens and restaurant waste water is removed by automated Grease Removal Units, also known as skimmer units. The waste fryolater oil is picked up by WMR, Mohegan Sun’s recycling vendor. Western Mass Rendering or WMR uses the oil as a constituent in animal feed stock and for the creation of bio-fuel for resale. This produces revenue that goes back into casino operation. The revenue is approximately $0.22 per lb. of yellow grease and $0.3 per lb. of grey grease. Used office paper is sent to Enviroshred, a free shredding operation which takes care of recycling all used paper in environmentally friendly ways.

Features of Mohegan Sun Food Waste Recycling System

Collection stations follow the logical flow of food waste from five distinct streams in the casino:

  • Employee dining rooms (Uncas Grill)
  • Sit down dining room
  • Banquet Dining
  • Room service
  • Pot room (leftover food)

The food waste system is devised of thirteen so mate machines which pulverize, mix and press the water out of the food waste, allowing the maximum amount of waste to fill the barrels then sent to the piggery. Considering that the piggery charges a flat rate per barrel and not per lb. the more water that is removed from each barrel, the more food waste can be packed in, effectively holding costs down. Stations, such as the pot room, just scrape the food waste into barrels which are then moved by wheeled gurneys to various refrigerated location, to await pick up by the farmer. Waste Oil is divided into two types; the more valuable yellow grease provides revenue for the casino and the brown or grey grease is removed from the kitchens waste water by the AGRUs.

Yellow Grease

Yellow waste grease is placed in 2,500 gallon tanks which can be found on the facility in two locations. These tanks are owned and emptied by WMR. The yellow grease is used both as an animal food constituent and to make bio-fuel for resale.

Grey/ Brown Grease

Brown grease is removed by the skimmer units and stored in drums to be used as an animal food constituent by the WMR vendor.

Ongoing Issues

The system works smoothly but still deals with recurring issues such as, the food waste recycling sequence is in a better place than bottle and can recycling. Employees frequently put bottles and cans in plastic bags, creating contamination in the dumpster when they are not removed prior to dumping. The extra plastic also takes up extra space, unnecessarily raising the cost of each removal. Another problem is the “fast food”, from the court vendors at the casino which is often lost. Millaras Piggery is the end destination for all food waste, so going to compostable tableware and food packaging would not help here. Food from Mohegan owned restaurants go to Millaras Piggery. Tenant owned restaurant scrap food still foes to the regular trash. Recently, a new proposed compost company has become interested in looking into what tenant owned restaurants have for scrap food, attempting to stop the disposal of these food scraps to regular garbage.

View the solid waste recovery case study

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