Northern Quest Resort & Casino

Supporting the Kalispel Tribe's Commitment to Environmental Stewardship

To support the Kalispel Tribe's commitment to environmental stewardship, Northern Quest Resort & Casino leadership engaged Resource Synergy to determine how to reduce waste and conserve resources. After conducting a comprehensive waste characterization and analyzing results, Resource Synergy recommended that Northern Quest begin by implementing a property-wide compost and food waste reduction program. Since Northern Quest was paying for trash disposal by weight, shifting heavy food waste from the trash to cheaper compost containers would not only save money but make good use of all that organic matter.

Masselow’s Steakhouse, a fine dining restaurant in the hotel, kicked off the compost program in November 2018. In subsequent months, additional kitchens and venues also applied the practice, including EPIC, River’s Edge Buffet, the Banquets kitchen, the in-house bakery, and the employee dining kitchen. All team members participate in the compost efforts, from prep and line cooks to the front-of-house staff.

As of summer 2019, Northern Quest is collecting about 30 tons of compost per month, a figure that should continue to rise as the property completes program implementation. Instead of sending tons of food waste and paper products to be burned at the waste-to-energy facility, now 60,000 pounds per month of organic matter are being recycled by Barr-Tech Composting as a nutrient-rich soil amendment for local farms. To bring everything full circle, many of Northern Quest's venues purchase food from the same farms that used their kitchen compost to grow their produce!

In addition to composting, the collaboration between Maintenance, Housekeeping and Food & Beverage helped turn cardboard into a revenue generator. Instead of continuing to use cardboard compactors, Northern Quest purchased a cardboard baler and is selling about ten tons of cardboard each month.

The continued success of Northern Quest’s sustainability is truly a team effort. Composting and cardboard are just the beginning of a comprehensive sustainability program that will include efforts to recycle glass, metal, plastic and to investigate water and energy efficiencies. By working together and sharing the commitment to sustainability, Northern Quest and the Kalispel Tribe will continue to see monetary impact and benefits to its team members, guests and the local environment.

Kalispel Tribe of Indians

Sustaining Harmony with the River

For countless generations, the Kalispel Tribe has existed in harmony with “ntxwe”, the Pend Oreille River. As the tribe grew, increasing pressure was placed on the reservation’s sole transfer station; located near the river’s flood plain and adjacent to a buffalo pasture. Blowing trash, unauthorized dumping, and excessive cost were just some of the challenges. The tribe also desired to implement recycling and food waste diversion, but funding and local infrastructure to do so were limited. Another consultant had produced an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, but it lacked actionable implementation steps and thus it remained just a report.

Once contracted, Resource Synergy conducted a waste characterization, interviewed stakeholders, and developed a Solid Waste Implementation Plan. The plan outlined 10 priorities, which if pursued in the prescribed order, would self-fund the overhaul of the reservation’s solid waste system. These included redesigning the transfer station, building specialized trailers for recycling, repurposing a compactor from Northern Quest Casino, and hiring a Solid Waste Coordinator. Additionally, Resource Synergy successfully secured an EPA grant to fund an innovative initiative to raise pigs on the food scraps of the casino, which would then become pork for the restaurants.

"Resource Synergy has connected with the tribe on many levels, understood our needs, and designed solutions that work for our unique circumstances."

– Tell Hamilton, Executive Director of Planning & Public Works

The Kalispel Tribe is now on a path to environmental stewardship and cost savings. The financial savings from compacting trash, coupled with the diversion of recyclables and food waste is expected to fully-fund the Solid Waste Coordinator position, creating a job for a tribal member. The transfer center is cleaner and more efficient, and the food scraps will enable a more sustainable and localized food system.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort

The Need To Protect Winter

As a ski resort, Schweitzer has a vested interest in protecting winter. Additionally, their customers and employees were placing increasing pressure on the organization to address their overall environmental impact. A small and passionate group of employees had formed a sustainability team and brainstormed potential projects but needed support prioritizing and building the financial case.

Resource Synergy conducted a preliminary energy audit and waste characterization. We identified an immediate opportunity for LED retrofits in three of the resort’s largest buildings as well as waste reduction opportunities related to recycling, food, and cups. Due to its remote location, single-stream recycling and composting infrastructure weren't readily available. The Resource Synergy team helped Schweitzer implement a source-separated recycling program and gained the engagement of Bonner County to develop a community-scale composting facility. We also worked with the food and beverage team to implement a reusable cup deposit program and sell reusable water pouches vs. bottled water.

"The Resource Synergy team not only knows what to do, but also how to fund it through utility savings, grants, and incentives."

Tom Chasse, CEO

The LED retrofit delivered an immediate energy savings of 108,473 kWh (enough to power 10 homes), saving the resort a whopping $15,000/year. To help pay for it, Resource Synergy secured over $34,000 in utility incentives. Schweitzer has gained recognition through the National Ski Area Association’s Sustainable Slopes program for its energy efficiency, climate action/advocacy, and waste programs. They’ve become a change agent in the local community and deepened their relationship with employees and guests.

Spokane County Campus

Cementing its Position as a Regional Sustainability Leader

Spokane County was already leading many of the Inland Northwest's sustainability initiatives, yet its leadership wanted to do even more by providing desk-side recycling to each of the nearly 1,300 employees at its downtown Spokane campus while also optimizing waste services and exploring composting opportunities.

Resource Synergy began its partnership with Spokane County with a waste characterization to identify waste prevention and diversion opportunities. Analysis revealed that over half the contents of the campus' two compactors were either mixed recyclables or food waste. It also revealed that the county's waste services were in need of optimization, leading to significant savings out of the gate.

Next, the Resource Synergy team installed recycling bins at 1,278 desks throughout campus including at the Courthouse, IT, Human Resources, Juvenile Detention, and Public Works and Public Safety buildings. In addition to engaging hundreds of employees at their desks, Resource Synergy also gave nearly a dozen presentations at various staff meetings.

All told, Resource Synergy's program increased mixed recycling collection on campus by a whopping 500%. That's 15-20 yards per week, or the equivalent of 400 truck beds full of paper, plastic, metal and glass each year!

In addition to strong financial savings that can be realized into perpetuity, Spokane County provided recycling to hundreds of employees, made strides toward future compost and food waste reduction opportunities, and cemented its position as a regional sustainability leader.

The Heart Institute

Increasing Brand Value in a Competitive Market

Medical facilities produce a lot of waste, and it's often surprising how much of that volume is actually recyclable. Until September 2016, The Heart Institute in Spokane was filling a four-yard trash compactor three times per week, yet 42% of that waste could have been recycled. That much unnecessary waste not only impacts the environment, but it hurts an organization's bottom line.

The property manager and the Heart Institute team wanted to make changes, but in a hectic work environment there was always something more urgent on their agenda. Resource Synergy was able to quickly identify waste-reduction needs and solutions, and expedite the implementation process to achieve significant results in a matter of weeks.

The collaboration with Resource Synergy began with a waste characterization to identify waste prevention and diversion opportunities. Next, Resource Synergy developed a customized strategy and implemented it over the course of two days. Each clinic had a slightly different protocol and culture, so brief on-site conversations were conducted with each practice manager to ensure that proper bins, signage and training were delivered. A special priority was placed on continuing to secure sensitive HIPAA documents and hazardous materials.

Resource Synergy's program more than doubled The Heart Institute Building's recycling volume and reduced trash by 1/3. With a total waste cost savings of 32%, the program not only paid for itself but also delivered a positive impact to the facility's bottom line.

More than 350 recycling bins and mini-hanging baskets were deployed throughout The Heart Institute. In total, Resource Synergy educated over 200 employees in 7 unique clinics and administrative offices.

In addition to strong financial savings, The Heart Institute's recycling program visually communicates its organization's sustainability commitment to patients, staff and the greater Spokane community.