IOL / 28 JUNE 2018 - 08:00 / LYSE COMINS
The Wild Coast Sun Hotel and Casino was recently awarded the Gold award at the Eco Logic Awards for achieving the environmental conservation goal of sending zero waste to landfill, a feat that has also led to the spin-off of community based economic development projects in the area.
The awards recognise individuals and businesses who are positively contributing towards an environmentally sustainable world.
Wild Coast Sun environmental health and safety co-ordinator, Sonya Stroud
KwaZulu-Natal had a strong presence across all 13 categories, including the eThekwini Municipality, for its waste removal Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) technology.
Wild Coast Sun environmental health and safety co-ordinator, Sonya Stroud, who headed the zero waste to landfill project, said Sun International’s head office had set the goal for its hotels to set up projects to recycle waste with the aim of achieving the zero waste to landfill target.
“In 2016, head office made a target that all hotels needed to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2020. I thought it was a fantastic goal but thought, how are we ever going to achieve it,” Stroud said.
“It is the right thing to do because sending waste to landfill is terrible. Plastic products don’t bio-degrade and stay for many years and it does harm to ground water. Landfills are filling up at an alarming rate,” she said.
“If we think about how marine life is being destroyed by plastic pollution, we really need to take responsibility for waste. We can’t just be consumers and close our eyes and send waste to landfill.”
Stroud said that of the 50 to 60 tons of waste that the hotel generates monthly, about 40 tons was previously sent to a landfill site.
“We had started in 2014 to separate food waste from all other waste because if we can get the food waste out of the waste stream, other items can be recycled far better. We starting making compost with the food waste and now we make 300 to 400 tons of compost a year,” she said.
“It encouraged us to start a vegetable garden and the vegetables go back to our kitchen, its organic and we save on carbon footprint because we don’t have to buy in from Port Shepstone and Margate.”
Excess vegetables are donated to needy local schools and soup kitchens, including a charity that feeds 900 schoolchildren every day.
The hotel has established two small enterprise development projects as part of the programme that is providing employment and supporting local families.
Vuka Uzenzele Trading is an enterprise development project that makes the compost and provides a livelihood for five families. The project also saves the hotel business at least R400 000 a year in compost costs. The compost is used on the lawns, the golf course and in the vegetable gardens.
The second economic development enterprise formed, Gayo Enterprises, is responsible for collecting the food waste from the hotel’s kitchens 24/7 and taking it to the compost yard.
“We had to train kitchen staff and explain why we wanted to separate food waste. There is one bin for food and one bin for anything else so it can be taken to the recycling depot, which is managed by Recycle 4 Africa. Everything that can be recycled is recycled,” Stroud said.
She is excited about the recycling firm’s plans to make eco-blocks out of certain waste materials that would otherwise not be recyclable. She aims to eventually be able to use the blocks to assist local communities to build classrooms.
Stroud aims to tackle the hotel’s procurement chain next to eliminate products like small plastic butter dishes. “It has made us look at the products we are buying that we should not be buying, like polystyrene and other plastic items. We need to go back to the old days where we had little butter balls,” she said. “We are putting pressure on suppliers saying ‘we don’t want your plastic anymore, can you give us biodegrabled containers?’”
She said the hotel was already receiving paper straws from a supplier.
Stroud said the achievement and acknowledgment of the hotel’s success had made staff proud.
“It’s the right thing to do and it is having a domino effect on other business that want to do the same.
We proved it can be done. It’s very labour intensive, its hard work and it’s dirty work, but we have not sent a single item to landfill,” she said.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER