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Caesars Entertainment: Enterprise Waste Diversion Project

The Caesars Waste Diversion Project was an example of impacting ‘what gets measured gets done,’ and the importance of goal setting. I particularly like the cradle-to-cradle recycling effort. This model should be implemented by more companies.

Caesars Entertainment is an American gaming corporation that owns and operates casinos, hotels, and golf courses. In 2008, the company established a goal of diverting 25% of all waste from landfills by 2014. The project started with data collection and on-site waste sorting to recover recyclables and assets, but the Caesars team understood early on that creative solutions would be needed to achieve diversion goals. Having good data was the cornerstone of the project.

At the time, it wasn’t clear how easily the company could achieve the goal given the complexity of integrated resort operations. Caesars began data collection and initiated new programs. In 2013, Caesars conducted an analysis of all 2012 data, calculating an enterprise diversion rate of 23.6%. Although on pace to achieve its goal, the company realized there was still an opportunity to better manage waste. During the following two years, Caesars placed a renewed emphasis on educating employees and guests, standardizing best practices, rolling out unique recycling and cradle-to-cradle strategies, and collecting data for anything diverted, donated or reused on its property.

Working with waste vendors, Caesars collected weights and required that invoices must include tonnage data. The company identified property leads who were responsible for collecting weights for anything being diverted, and shifted the focus to increasing diversion. Caesars shared best practices, completed dumpster dives to characterize waste streams, started diverting high volume wastes such as organics, and initiated programs like recycling hotel room soaps. They also formed partnerships with companies such as BluMarble, which uses glass bottles from Caesars’ waste streams to create products sold in Caesars’ retail stores.

The project took a tremendous commitment to collecting accurate data at over 40 properties by working with property staff and multiple vendors to ensure weights for everything leaving the properties was captured. Entire compactors were emptied, sorted, and weighed to characterize waste streams and better address diversion.

The company trialed innovative technologies such as macerating water-filled organic waste to create a liquid slush that could be sent down sewer lines. Through partnerships with nonprofits, the company recycled more than 100,000 pounds of toiletries per year. Caesars also educated kitchen staffs on the importance of food diversion to improve upstream sorting, and initiated asset recovery to regain reusable assets such as silverware from waste streams.

The project established a framework for data collection that allows the company to calculate accurate diversion rates. In 2013, Caesars’ waste diversion rate surpassed 35%, exceeding its goal a year early. Then, in 2014, the company achieved a record 44.3% diversion rate. Cradle-to-cradle opportunities to take waste from their compactors to their retail shops resulted in this higher diversion rate, and delivered over $4 million of bottom-line value. Caesars’ new diversion targets are to achieve 50% waste diversion by 2020 and 60% by 2025.

Caesars is now looking at upstream strategies to minimize waste creation while continuing to evolve its diversion program. The project provides a platform for the reuse of waste otherwise delivered to landfills, helps reduce Scope 3 emissions, and lowers operating costs. It also inspires workforce pride through partnerships with organizations such as Clean the World, which has recycled and delivered more than 1,685,900 bars of soap collected from Caesars properties to developing countries to fight diarrheal disease since 2010.