Home News & Features Delaware North Receives Park Service Award for Yosemite Composting Program

Delaware North Receives Park Service Award for Yosemite Composting Program

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK—Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts has received a top 2011 environmental achievement award from the National Park Service (NPS) for initiating a comprehensive composting program for Yosemite National Park. Delaware North operates Yosemite’s visitor services, including lodging, dining, recreation, retail and transportation services as a national park concessioner. The global hospitality management and food service provider launched the composting program in August 2009 to expand its longstanding recycling efforts at the park.

Through November 2010, Delaware North’s composting initiative diverted 216 tons of organic waste—including food waste and paper products—from Yosemite’s kitchens and restaurants to Mariposa County’s composting facility. That represents about 10 percent of the 2,100 tons of solid waste from Yosemite sent to the landfill during the same period.

“Delaware North’s efforts should serve as a model for other concessioners that have access to local large-scale industrial composting facilities,” NPS said in announcing the award.

The composting program began with four locations—The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, Degnan’s Deli and The Loft—and was subsequently expanded to include the kitchens at Curry Village, Village Grill, White Wolf Lodge, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge and the High Sierra Camps. In each kitchen, Delaware North placed separate “trash” containers for organics with liners made of compostable materials.

Program Expanded to Housing This Past Spring

NPS at Yosemite joined the composting initiative in October 2010 by collecting organic waste at its housing complex in Yosemite Valley. Delaware North expanded the program to its housing facilities this past spring.

“The composting initiative is continuing to expand, with the potential to divert 1,400 tons of waste—half of Yosemite’s waste stream—from going to the landfill in the future,” said Deb Friedel, director of sustainability for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts.

Through its GreenPath environmental management program, Delaware North has had a successful recycling program at Yosemite since the 1990s but was unable to expand it to include food waste and other organics until Mariposa County’s composting facility began operating in 2006. The company also explored composting on-site at the park, but space limitations and concerns about wildlife breaking into composting tubs prevented that initiative.

Finding adequate replacements for plastic containers and dishware and conventional paper was another challenge for Delaware North’s environmental and supply management managers and its chefs at The Ahwahnee and its other restaurants and food service locations. Delaware North worked closely with Mariposa County to test the ability of alternative plastic and paper products to biodegrade in the composting facility’s vaults, eventually identifying containers made of plant starches, potato starch products for dishware and paper products made with recycled paper.

Favorable Rate Negotiated

Delaware North was also able to negotiate a tipping fee of $55 per ton, less than half the normal rate for industrial composting, because its stream of clean organic waste and manure helps the county produce a better composting product.

The hospitality management company worked with its waste hauler at Yosemite, Total Waste Systems of Mariposa, to pick up both garbage and organic waste without increasing the number of trips to Yosemite Valley.

The NPS environmental achievement award is Delaware North’s fourth for its efforts at Yosemite. In 2010 Delaware North was recognized for reducing the Yosemite Transportation System’s petroleum fuel use by using diesel-electric hybrid trams, adopting a vehicle no-idling policy and a ride-share program for employees. The company won an award in 2008 for its recycling programs at Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park and another in 2003 for waste prevention at Yosemite.

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