Crater Lake vendor gets serious about recycling
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
November 12, 2003
By LEE JUILLERAT
CRATER LAKE – They’re not just talking trash at Crater Lake.
Items that once found their way to garbage cans are finding their way to recycling bins as part of an expanding conservation effort by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Crater Lake National Park’s concessionaire.
“It’s an added expense, but in the long run it’s the right thing to do,” says Craig Peterson, Xanterra’s facilities engineer and environmental risk manager.
Peterson says the company has taken a multi-pronged approach, from buying alternative energy through Pacific Power to an ever-expanding recycling program to future recycling plans that will involve more park visitors.
“When we have a half-million people in this park each year, if we can even get a percentage of them to recycle we can make a big difference,” he believes.
This past season, recycling efforts focused on the company’s 230 summer park employees. During 2002, Xanterra’s first season as concessionaire, the company recycled 3,400 pounds of items. Although figures aren’t in for the summer of 2003, Peterson expects the total will exceed 44,000 pounds.
“As we bring people on in the hiring program, we let them know, hey, we have this recycling program and the only way we can make it work is with your participation,” says Peterson.
In the employee dorms all rooms have large blue recycling containers, along with the usual garbage cans. As part of “Team Deep Blue,” posters explaining the program, and detailing items that can – cardboard, plastic bottles, all paper, magazines, catalogs, aluminum cans, tin cans and phone books – and cannot be recycled, are on bulletin boards.
Each dorm has waste management rooms for recycling. To encourage participation and simplify the process, all items except glass and metal can be commingled into a single container.
“It’s always going to be easier to throw it in the trash,” explains Peterson of why special efforts are focusing on recycling.
The company also offers shuttles between the Mazama dorms, located about 10 miles from the rim, to work stations throughout the park, including the Cleetwood Cove parking area used by tour boat crews.
In addition, used fluorescent lights are now placed in protective tubes for transport to recycling centers. During the summer, about 100 lights are recycled monthly. The company is also converting from incandescent to the longer-lasting, more energy-efficient fluorescent lights.
Likewise, oil from company vehicles and batteries, about 35 last year, are being taken to recycle centers. The company now uses only water based paints, and buys “environmentally correct” chemicals.
During the peak summer season, mustard, ketchup and other food condiments are available in large dispensers instead of individual packages.
“There’s kind of a fine line of environmental and economic issues,” says Peterson. “We’ve chosen to step across that line because it’s the right thing to do.”
Although it’s more expensive, Xanterra has participated with Green Mountain Power and Pacific Power to buy renewable energy produced at a wind farm in Wyoming. Wind energy costs 30 percent more than power from coal-derived energy, but costs are expected to drop as more businesses and individuals participate.
This year, Xanterra is buying about 10 percent of its energy through the renewable program, but plans to nearly double that in 2004. During an average month, the company uses 213,645 kilowatts, or more than 2.5 million kilowatts annually, at its park properties, including Crater Lake Lodge; the Mazama dorm, RV park, camp store, comfort station and motel; rim village dorm, cafeteria and comfort station, seasonal housing near Fort Klamath; and White City offices.
Peterson is proud of the company’s participation, but even more pleased at its aggressive efforts at reducing energy dependence.
“You can go out and purchase all the wind power you want and look like a hero, but if you’re not reducing power consumption what are you really doing. It all rolls together in the big picture. It’s especially important because we living inside a national park.”
In 2004, Peterson says the focus will broaden to include park visitors. Noisy, high-emission golf carts have been retired and may be replaced with zero emission, or electric, vehicles at the campground and maintenance areas.
Peterson also wants to develop composting programs, especially for food waste.
“Solid waste is going to be one of the biggest issues in Oregon,” says Peterson. “It’s one of my jobs to minimize what we sent to landfills.”
Regional Editor Lee Juillerat covers Lake, Siskiyou, Modoc and northern Klamath counties. He can be reached at 885-4421, (800) 275-0982, or by e-mail at email@example.com.