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5. Waste Management

Waste has become an increasing problem as more and more products are sold as In “disposable” This has led to massive problems of overflowing landfills, polluted waterways, lakes, and oceans, and in increasing factor of serious public health issues leading to beach closings and illness of the public.

These issues are further complicated by socio-economic factors such as poverty and poor access to healthcare.  It is imperative for sustainable tourism operations to continue to find ways to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle when it comes to waste.

Refusing unnecessary packaging, reducing the waste that goes to land fills, reusing  waste for compost or energy sources, and recycling are all strategies of sustainable tourism.

 Some basic strategies to consider include:

  • Bulk purchase and choosing  products with minimal packaging.
  • Eliminating or reduce the use of plastic carrier bags.
  • Using rechargeable batteries.
  • Provide filtered water in replacement of bottled water.
  • Reduce printing and use both sides of the paper.
  • Using dispensers in showers and vanity areas of hotel rooms.

Walt Disney World has set the industry standad with their goal to send zero waste to land fills and to half the amount they send by 2013 from 2006 baseline levels.

Some of the Walt Disney Company strategies include:

  • Using biosolids resulting from the waste water treatment process, food, and animal manure to compost and then give away to local agricultural operations.  About 11,000 tons a year are given to local farmers.
  • Incorporating waste reduction into the design of products, programs, and facilities.
  • Reducing waste through innovative product development, supply chain management, and end of life recycling.
  • Recycling scrap metal (over 1200 tons a year)
  • Recycling cooking grease and using to power trains.  (740 tons a year)
  • Recycling electronics (over 100 tons a year)

Communities can significantly turn pollution problems around.   For example the Richard A. Heyman Environmental Proteciton facility in the Florida Keys has helped the commity go from dumping 10 million gallons a day of waste water with phosphates and nitrates into the sea to now dumping zero gallons.

The Mission statement reads:  "The City of Key West Utilities Department envisions itself to be a leader in environmental protection while improving the quality of life. We will exceed federal, state and local compliance guidelines to preserve our environment by using state-of-the-art technology. We will promote teamwork and a safe workplace atmosphere through communication, education and quality training."

In 2005 Key West was presented with the Florida Department of Environmental Protections highest award for Operations Excellence. In 2004 the Florida Rural Water Association awarded OMI and Key West the Earl B. Phelps Operations Excellence Award. OMI and the City of Key West are extemely proud of these accomplishments, and they are a testament of Key West's commitment to protect our environment.

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