Those visiting the Waste Expo, which once again takes place in Las Vegas, can take advantage of a complimentary tour of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which features the second largest solar-panel farm in the entire world and the largest in the nation. The tour also will highlight numerous changes made to the facility’s waste streams, services, and infrastructure to reduce, reuse, and recycle most of its resources.
The solar farm exploits the intense Vegas sun that shines on the roof of the resort, producing impressive energy-saving specs—but still not enough to break even. Annual power savings equate to the power of up to 1,300 standard homes, reducing its carbon footprint by up to 6,300 metric tons every year. That’s equivalent to removing over 1,300 cars from the road.
Though these specs sound impressive, the panels only supply 26% of Mandalay’s energy. The casino still gobbles up enough power for 3,700 homes every year, with carbon emissions remaining high. And, as pointed out by Brian Merchant in Motherboard, less advanced energy sources line the entire strip, using the limited water resources in the desert. However, Mandalay Bay claims that casinos only use 7% of the valley’s water supply.
Saving its Resources
Meanwhile, uneaten food goes to local farms to be boiled down as feed for livestock, grease-traps are harvested for bio-diesel fuel (1,089 tons per year), and 64 tons of waste are sorted for recycling. The convention’s recycling rate for conventions is 80%; not including water and property recycling (like carpets and wood), it’s 40.38%. Eight tons of mattresses are recycled each year, too.
Mandalay Bay also introduced a “sustainable menu” this past year. All wine is organically produced, and corks by the thousands are recycled and reused. Only glassware and china is used to serve food rather than plastic, unless it is requested; glassware is always recycled. The resort also made the switch to 100% craft cardboard for boxed lunches.
To reduce electricity, the resort replaced 225,000 incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent LED lamps, and 281 slot machines are retrofitted with LED lighting.
Mandalay Bay also supports local charities with clothing and other unused resources. These include Three Square, Lied Animal Shelter, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Vietnam Veterans, Salvation Army, Las Vegas Rescue Mission, Greener Las Vegas, Catholic Charities, Calvary Chapel, Family Promise, Deseret Industries, Culinary Academy, Teachers Exchange, Opportunity Village, Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society, and Clark County School District. All clothing is sent to second-hand stores to be laundered and sold. Finally, old linens are reused as rags for cleaning and polishing. These “Linen Reuse” programs have reduced annual water usage by more than 100 million gallons, which is enough to fill its Shark Reef Aquarium almost 63 times. Reusing resources also reduced trash hauls by 33% last year.
Regarding the Shark Reef Aquarium, the resort uses recycled waste water to fill 90% of its 1.6-million-gallon capacity. This results in over 2.1 million gallons of reclaimed water per year. Variable-frequency drives are installed on all major water pumps to reduce their power usage by 25%.