The scale of our Design & Developments projects requires large volumes of materials, creating potential for a large waste footprint. Our approach involves required practices, education and ongoing monitoring to minimize our waste footprint to an absolute minimum during this phase.
As a major developer and operator of resorts and entertainment venues, we know that Design & Development phases require large volumes of materials and can generate significant levels of waste. In most of our development projects we have implemented large scale construction and demolition materials recycling programs and have significantly reduced disposal to landfill during new construction and major renovations.
Our extensive material diversion program includes traditional paper, plastic and metal recycling. In addition, we have designed and executed more complex programs, including food waste to pig farms, grease to create biofuels and donations to support charities. Most of our material diversion programs occur away from guests, allowing them to enjoy our resorts without negotiating different recycling bins. This approach has helped us to increase our diversion rate.
A major environmental initiative at MGM Resorts is managing Materials & Waste inside our resorts, using a unique approach to sorting materials for our guests. To maximize the volume of materials we divert from landfills, all materials disposed of in event and convention spaces, guestrooms, kitchens, dining areas, casino floors and other areas are hand sorted in our sorting facilities.
Learn more about how MGM Resorts manages its recycling in the America Recycles Day video.
With more than 4.4 million square feet of event and convention space and 400+ food and beverage outlets, the single largest waste stream we divert at MGM Resorts is food waste. Our approach to food waste management is aligned with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Food Recovery Hierarchy.
MGM Resorts is the largest multi-concept, non-chain restaurant operator in the U.S. Excluding multi-national fast-food chains, we are the fourth largest independent restaurant company globally. As such, food is a significant focus of our environmental sustainability program.
Through our notable food donation program, we are committed to serving our communities. The robust program takes unserved food from our resorts and safely donates it to the food insecure in the communities in which we operate. Donations are comprised of three major food types: unserved perishable prepared foods from events, perishable unprepared food from our kitchens and non-perishable food items from minibars and warehouses. In collaboration with Southern Nevada’s primary food bank, Three Square, we also helped to establish the core infrastructure needed to safely collect, transport and store food from hotels in Las Vegas.
Continuous overfishing and improper treatment of Chesapeake Bay have been detrimental to its oyster population. To contribute to the regeneration of this keystone ecosystem, the culinary and food and beverage teams at MGM National Harbor partnered with a local oyster farm to collect and send oyster shells. Through consistent innovation and collaboration, the oyster program was expanded to our Las Vegas resorts. In partnership with RENUoil of America, oyster shells are collected from our designated oyster collection facilities and transported to a hatchery in Maryland to help meet the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance goal of placing 10 billion oysters back into Chesapeake Bay by 2025. In 2022, the program once again expanded when we partnered with the Nature Conservancy to help begin Mississippi’s first oyster restoration program, located on the Gulf Coast near the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
We recognize that packaging and other plastics account for a substantial portion of our company’s waste stream. We have reduced the volume of single-use plastics in our resorts by replacing plastic straws with paper alternatives, plastic stir sticks with wood and bamboo alternatives and many of our plastic to-go containers with fiber-based alternatives. We have also switched from plastic to paper cups in many of our convention resorts. Health and safety concerns associated with the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the reversal of many of our plastic reduction efforts, and while we will always prioritize the health and safety of our guests and employees, we remain committed to continuing our plastic reduction efforts moving forward.
Featured Project: Packaging Innovation Through SmartPower
In 2019, we conducted a comprehensive three-month pilot in multiple high-volume commercial dishwashers at Mandalay Bay. The transition was to a “SmartPower” solution from Ecolab and the pilot demonstrated immediate notable benefits. Our wash cycle reduced by 11%, leading to an estimated 11% reduction in water and energy use while maintaining or improving cleanliness. Because the product packaging was more compact, there was a 96% reduction in plastic waste. In addition, because the new chemical formulations were milder, the need for personal protective equipment was eliminated, providing health and safety benefits to employees and reducing waste in this area. The SmartPower program was rolled out across the company in the latter half of 2019 and continued into 2020. Approximately 75% of our high-volume dishwashers have been converted, with the remaining scheduled to transition as the inventory of the previously purchased product is depleted. .
Featured Project: Packaging Efficiency at MGM COTAI
In 2018, MGM Resorts became the first integrated resort operator in Macau to abandon all single-use plastics in takeaway packaging. In 2020, we saw a 60.3% reduction (2.4 million bottles) compared with when the initiative first began in 2018. We also installed seven new beverage stations on the gaming floor to further reduce bottled water consumption. We are exploring the feasibility of scaling the beverage station initiative, because while 100% of our single-use plastic bottles are recyclable, we aim to limit the use of single-use plastic bottles altogether.
Through our Sustainable Supply Chain program, we seek to drive progress towards environmental, social and economic goals. Environmentally Preferable Purchasing is a core pillar of this program.
At MGM Resorts, we have concentrated buying power, especially in our home market of Las Vegas. We make buying decisions for nearly 70 million square feet of buildings, located within just four square miles on the Las Vegas Strip. Over the last decade, we have used this buying power to advance environmentally preferable purchasing in many categories, a small subset of which is described below.
In 2016, we began collaborating with our office supplies vendor, Staples, to transition to environmentally preferable paper. We established a preference for paper that either contained 30% or more post-recycled content or was FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. To maximize the use of this preferred paper, we have worked with our main copy paper supplier to implement a farced substitution system, so that buyers are encouraged only to buy paper that meets the standard. We have also implemented our 'Paper Cuts' program, with a goal to dramatically reduce total paper use.
In 2009, MGM Resorts received the 'Best Commercial Project in the U.S.' award from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an independent, non-profit organization that protects forests for future generations. This recognition was for the unprecedented scale in which we used FSC-certified wood at CityCenter, our first LEED Gold certified property. In 2016, we opened MGM National Harbor, and more than 80% of our spending on wood and wood products was from FSC certified forests. Through our long-standing commitment to FSC, we send a strong market signal that we support elevated levels of responsible forestry. With significant Design & Development activities, our approach to sustainable wood is one way we manage nature-related risks.
MGM Resorts operates more than 90 million square feet of building space, much of which exists in hot climates, requiring air conditioning and air filters. We partnered with a supplier to analyze and test more durable options, with the goal of providing our guests with high-quality filtered air while reducing energy and lowering costs.