Delaware North at Grand Canyon performed a waste characterization audit September 24 – 25, 2015 to better understand the solid waste stream in order to improve their waste management program and achieve Zero Waste by 2025 as well as attain interim milestones, 40% diversion by 2016 and 65% diversion by 2020.

Zero Waste Definitionn = at least 90% of the solid waste diverted from the landfill.


The audit focused on retail, food and beverage, guest lodging, and employee housing. Samples for these operations were taken from the dumpsters behind the Canyon Village Marketplaza General Store, Yavapai Lodge Restaurant,  Yavapai Lodge Guest Rooms (East and West, and  employee housing  (Brant Hall, Coconino apartments, and Hualapai apartments).

After collection, samples were transported to the Grand Canyon Transfer Station where they were separated and analyzed in partnership with  Zane Johnson, Solid Waste Supervisor for the National Park Service. The waste was separated by location/department (retail, guest lodging, food and beverage, and employee housing).  The waste was hand sorted into multiple categories including:

  • Hard Plastics: Plastics #1-#7
  • Soft Plastics: shrink wrap, plastic bags, etc.
  • Paper: office paper, magazines
  • Cardboard/Paperboard
  • Glass: clear and colored
  • Aluminum
  • Other Metals: steel, tin
  • Textiles: bed linens, towels, clothing
  • Universal Waste: batteries, ballasts fluorescent lamps
  • Compostable dishware and service ware
  • Food Waste – pre and post-consumer
  • Landfill / Trash

Overall, a solid waste diversion rate was calculated at 79% for the Grand Canyon operation.  Organic waste (49%), recycling (30%), and landfill/trash( 21%) constitutes Delaware North’s solid waste stream.  Keep in mind that the data collected and analyzed is from a representative sample at one point in time.

The biggest challenge at the park is the inability to attain weights for trash and recycling since the National Park Service (NPS) and Norton Environmental do not have scales on their trucks to provide measurement for each concessionaire according to waste type and location.

As a result of this solid waste audit, Delaware North is planning to make adjustments to the current waste management program by leveraging partnerships, improving communications, finding solutions to attain weights, increasing containers, conducting periodic waste inspections, and integrating technology in order to seek continual improvement.

Published September 30, 2015