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Composting Expands Disney-recycling Program
Robert L. Spencer

Le Diversion of an integrated mix of materials — from beverage containers to hotel kitchen scraps and yard trimmings — are boosting recycling rates at the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando.

RECYCLING and composting are becoming a way of life at the unique conglomeration of theme parks, hotels, restaurants, offices, and shops that is Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando, Florida. In addition to its 34,000 employees, WDW receives millions of visitors, thereby requiring a different focus on solid waste recycling. Many of those visitors stay in one of the 19 hotels, or the large campground located on this 30,000 acre site. Given the practical difficulties of implementing a recycling program for visitors from all over the world to the three theme parks — EPCOT Center, Disney-MGM Studios, and Magic Kingdom — it is the employees who are doing most of the recycling. At all Disney resorts, however, visitors can participate. The 10 Disney hotels have in-room recycling programs for guests, as well as about half of the nine other hotels operating on site. And at the Fort Wilderness Resort, a campground where recycling started in February, 1989, campers are given a plastic bag and list of items to be deposited in designated dropoff boxes.


Behind the scenes at Walt Disney World, employees are trained to incorporate recycling into their jobs. For example, at restaurants in the EPCOT theme park, workers separate different colors of glass, office paper, steel and aluminum cans, plastic beverage containers, and cardboard. These materials are collected and taken to the $3,5 million materials recovery facility (MRF) which opened in the fall of 1992. The 28,000 sq, ft, facility is designed to process 110 tons per day (tpd) of paper, corrugated, glass, plastic and metal, although it currently averages 30 tpd. While acknowledging the high operating costs, Matina Wagner, superintendent of recycling for Reedy Creek Energy Services (RCES), a WDW subsidiary, reports that the program is being continued with greater emphasis on source separation instead of sorting commingled recyclables at the MRF. One part of this effort is the growing number of balers located in stores, hotels and restaurants, producing bales of corrugated for export.

RCES is responsible for solid waste management and recycling at Disney World, charging a service fee for garbage collection to the hotels, restaurants, and theme parks operating within the Reedy Creek Improvement District. On a seven day basis, approximately 400 tons per day of solid waste are generated in the district. Although daily or annual visitor totals to WDW are not made public, Wagner notes that waste management services are provided to the daily equivalent of a community of 120,000 persons.



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Source type Magazine
Volume 34.10
Language en
Document type Feature
Media type text
Page count 4
Pages pp. 71-74


Id 7132
Availability Free
Inserted 2022-11-13