Las Vegas attracts tourists with affordable buffets, trendy lounges, and hip restaurants so it’s no surprise that food waste
is on the mind of facility managers along the Strip.
MGM Resorts International has 11 properties that include hundreds
of food venues ranging from casual to fine dining. They also serve
40,000 meals every day in their employee cafeterias.
The hospitality company received two 2014 Food Recovery Chal-
“Food waste is part of our larger waste management program to
lenge awards for improving food recovery. This EPA program helps
participants “reduce wasted food through prevention, donation,
composting, and anaerobic digestion to conserve natural resources.”
MGM diverted a total of 25,398 tons of food in 2013, a 50%
increase over 2012 levels. The MGM Grand Hotel took top honors for
increasing food diversion by 161%. Other notable reductions include
106% by New York-New York, 76% by the Bellagio, 66% at the Monte
Carlo, and 30% for the Luxor.
improve diversion rates and asset recovery,” explains Chris Brophy,
vice president of corporate sustainability.
As neither the city of Las Vegas nor Clark County offer compost-
ing services, MGM works with a private hauler that collects organic
waste. The company also partners with a local pig farmer who can
turn scraps into animal feed.
Food recovery starts at the kitchen level where staff collect trimmings into composting bins. In the employee dining rooms at the
Aria and Mirage properties, workers separate scraps as they return
their trays. To capture waste from restaurant leftovers, both uneaten
food and table scraps, every trash bag is brought to the property’s
back dock for sorting.
This process ensures that both food and recyclables are separated from garbage before leaving the facility. Bones and seafood
shells must also be rescued from the compostables. Depending on
the dock’s configuration, some spaces use waste compactors or
dumpsters specifically for organic waste and others have totes that
are emptied by vacuum trucks.
“We have been mindful to ensure the food recovery program
doesn’t detract from the guest experience or burden employee
workloads,” Brophy notes. “We’ve found that education is key.
Separating food doesn’t require more time, but it does necessitate a
change in workflow.”
MGM Resorts has a dedicated team of sustainability professionals
and recently earned LEED Gold for six sites. They also participate in
the Green Key program, an eco-label for hospitality, and have five
resorts at the highest rating. Participating in the
EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge was another av-
enue to validate its efforts through a third party.
For building owners looking to add food
recovery to their operations, Brophy recommends
taking a strategic approach. Take your time
and evaluate how you can manage your waste
streams while securing cost savings.
“Don’t be afraid to try – there are many
options that allow you to start small and grow
from there,” stresses Brophy. “Customize your
processes at each site and then standardize the
program across your portfolio to maximize its
JACKPOT FOR FOOD RECOVERY AT MGM RESORTS
MGM RESORTS DIVERTED 25,398 tons of
food in 2013, a 50% increase over 2012.
BY JENNIE MORTON