Since assuming the National Park Service (NPS) contract to operate at Peaks of Otter Lodge along the Blue Ridge Parkway in July of 2013, Delaware North immediately went to work and implemented a comprehensive waste management program.

During the proposal process, Parks & Resorts established a goal of Zero Waste by 2020, with an incremental goal of attaining a 40% diversion rate by 2014.  Faced with this challenge, the management team at Peaks of Otter Lodge developed solutions that increased the solid waste diversion rate to 46% in one year, diverting over 22,000 tons of waste from the landfill year to date.

The waste management program at Peak of Otter includes:

  • Conducting a waste assessment to determine opportunities to improve the diversion of solid waste from the landfill.
  • Implementing a comprehensive single-stream recycling program.  Materials recycled include: paper, magazines, newsprint, cardboard, bi-metals, plastics, aluminum, and glass.
  • Recycling kitchen waste oil, which is converted into bio-diesel by a local vendor.
  • Partnering with Tag Consulting to divert organic waste from the restaurant which is converted to compost.
  • Partnering with the Global Soap project to divert bar soap from the guest rooms.
  • Recycling other wastes generated from the operation such as mattresses, furniture, equipment, appliances, electronics, textiles, and construction waste.
  • Placing blue recycling bins made from post-consumer content in each guest room.
  • Installing bulk toiletry dispensers (soap, shampoo, and conditioner) in each guest room shower.
  • Installing bulk condiment dispensers in the restaurant.
  • Implementing an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program.
  • Purchasing 100% of to-go containers and utensils that are biodegradable/compostable.
  • Purchasing the following with post consumer content: office paper, shopping bags, tissue paper, paper towels and toilet paper.
  • Implementing a reusable bag program for purchase in retail.
  • Implementing a reusable cup program for staff and guests.
  • Conducting an E-waste event for Earth Day.

The Lodge offers options for guests to lessen their environmental impact during their meetings and overnight stays at the Lodge, including sustainable meal options and an easy-to-follow linen reuse program.  The restaurant at this popular stop along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway strives to incorporate local and sustainable produce into their operations.  The menu is seasonally inspired and features locally grown and sustainably harvested produce and cheeses as well as Virginia craft beers and local wines.

Community outreach and education is a major component of making the comprehensive environmental programming successful.  This year’s Earth Day event, pictured below, was a great example of such outreach and included displays on the local ecosystem and composting.

The Lodge’s success in surpassing their environmental goals is proof that even a small operation can make a world of difference.