Grand Canyon’s recycling at Norton Environ-mental in Flagstaff. About 80 percent of what the center receives re-enters the market as recycled material.
“We got into the Environmental Management System (EMS) fairly early on,” Beshears said. “All federal agencies were required to have an EMS and an executive order was put out for us to do that.”
Grand Canyon National Park was among the first three to put an EMS into place. While the park doesn’t administer Xanterra’s program, officials worked together to align both programs toward a single coordinated effort.
“Xanterra was a bigger player in solid waste than the Park Service,” Beshears said. “It’s a big operation compared to us. Recycling was a big part of an EMS and it makes sense to divert as much material (to recycling) as you can.”
The programs were built on Environmental Protection Agency performance standards and was certified by the EPA and under internationally-recognized benchmarks established by ISO 4001. EPA audits the program annually.
“We applied for those certifications and Xanterra did too,” Beshears said. “These programs are designed to recognize primarily businesses, companies and agencies that go beyond mere compliance. We were the first national park to get that honor.”
The effort got a final boost after the park contracted with Norton Environmental in Flagstaff for waste hauling services. Unlike the previous contractor, Norton doesn’t require recyclable materials to be presorted and the company also accepts an expanded list of materials, including junk mail and pasteboard boxes. All material is trucked to Flagstaff where it’s sorted and baled for resale to recycling facilities.
Beshears said that as a result, there was a 120 percent increase in recycling in the first quarter of fiscal year 2003. Last year, the park and concessioners recycled 1,452 tons of material – a waste diversion rate of 40.2 percent.
“Normally we didn’t collect a lot on recycling,” Beshears said. “But when we switched to the new contract, because they didn’t have to separate recyclables, it was easy for residents and we got good compliance.”
The move benefited Tusayan as well.
“After we got the contract with Norton, they were economically able to provide service to Tusayan,” Beshears said. “Now they’re doing it too.”
According to Doug Stocking, the company’s plant supervisor, about 80 percent of the material processed goes on to recycling. That percentage could be improved if people didn’t dispose of food waste, building materials, car batteries, plastic bags and other non-recyclable items in with their recycling, he said.
The park and Xanterra also coordinated an effort to cold-compost mule manure, processing 640 tons that will be used to help re-vegetate the park’s landfill area once it’s capped. Xanterra also organized a collection program at the Grand Canyon Recreation Center for phone books that are recycled into building insulation, plastic grocery bags that are converted to simulated wood products and household batteries.
Both the park and Xanterra also supported recycling at the purchasing end. In 2003, Xanterra purchased more than 200,000 pounds of recycled content products. The Park Service, which tracked its purchases of toilet paper, garbage bags, office paper and toner cartridges, purchased 62,000 pounds of products with post-consumer content. The Park and Xanterra also developed programs to recycle or reuse bus tires, car batteries, used oil, used solvents, fluorescent lamps, laundry drums, and toner and inkjet cartridges.
The program has become a model for other national parks and government agencies, Beshears said. Former maintenance employee and key organizer of the program Mary Ann McCloskey worked as an auditor to help other parks comply and she submitted the nomination for the award. She worked closely with Xanterra’s Lisa McNeely on the program. Other concessioners are also active in the recycling effort, Beshears said.
“They’re all basically doing the same things as Xanterra,” he said. “They’re just not as big.”
The Environmental Achievement Awards Program is a competitive program administered by the Washington Office, Park Facility Management Division.
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