Pilot Program at Grand Teton National Park Informs Future of Composting

As part of the Zero-Landfill Initiative, Teton County, Wyoming is making great inroads with new composting waste removal efforts. The Zero-Landfill Initiative is a collaboration between Subaru of America, Inc., National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the National Park Service (NPS) and park concessioners to reduce the amount of visitor-generated waste that national parks send to the landfills.

Collaborators spent the summer targeting the one material that is believed to comprise up to 40 percent of Teton County’s waste stream – food. Capturing and composting non-edible food waste is the next major step in the County’s efforts to significantly reduce waste going to landfills.

As part initiative, Grand Teton National Park and its concessioners Grand Teton Lodge Company and Signal Mountain Lodge have improved their waste infrastructure by raising public awareness around the trash problem at national parks and surrounding communities, and educating employees and visitors on how to lessen their environmental footprint. Teton County is playing an important role by contracting hauling services and coordinating collection logistics among the pilot project participants.

The Zero-Landfill Initiative is the first of its kind in bringing public and private partnerships to address critical natural resource issues in our national parks. The private-sector run concessioner operations manage the lodging, food and beverage and retail services at the park, which are all critical components to the success of the Zero-Landfill Initiative.

Together, park concessioners are managing more than 60 percent of all waste that is generated in the pilot parks, with a significant portion of that brought in by visitors that ultimately shows up in park campgrounds and trailheads. In addition to the composting efforts, concessioners are focusing on reducing waste generated in their own operations and helping the park and its visitors be educated and engaged in zero landfill practices.

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