Doe Bay Resort’s Goals for Zero-Waste Practices

Orcas Recycling Services (ORS) is interested in how local area businesses handle waste management. We have started an ongoing series where we interview establishments on Orcas to learn more about their goals, direction, and what we as ORS and a community can do to meet the ORS goal of zero-waste.

Many businesses on Orcas are conscious of their waste and would like to do what they can to minimize impact to the environment and the island. Doe Bay Resort and Retreat is no exception.

In September 2015, Doe Bay hired Michael Cleveland as its Facilities Manager. Mike comes to Doe Bay with a wealth of knowledge in a number of areas including construction management, energy auditing, and land development. Mike has many ideas and goals for improving Doe Bay’s waste management practices.

Mike and the Doe Bay team set a goal in January of 2016 to make Doe Bay zero-waste in five years—by January 2021. In order to achieve this objective and find the kinks as well as areas of potential improvement, he has had to survey the way the current system is.

Doe Bay currently spends a staggering amount of money on waste management every year! The majority of this money is spent on the cost of having San Juan Sanitation remove trash and recycling from their property. The trash and recycling comes from guests of the resort, the restaurant, and general upkeep and management of the facility.

Mike knows that in order to reduce this expenditure and environmental impact, the resort would have to manage intake for the restaurant, shipping needs, and from guests.

The resort is continually leaning towards purchasing goods from businesses that have responsible packaging (like ones that don’t use peanuts or Styrofoam). This also includes not selling beer in glass bottles in the Doe Bay Store (a future goal).

Glass is a big problem in the waste management world, because it is a commodity with a zero—or even negative—value. Aluminum, on the other hand, is a different story. No other container can match the energy savings and value that aluminum brings to recycling. Not only is the packaging incredibly sustainable, but it also has practically infinite recyclability and a 60-day turnaround from used beverage container to new can.

Single-source separation of recyclables is the way to go, but the County stopped accepting separated recyclables about ten years ago; therefore, San Juan Sanitation will not accept recyclables that have been separated. Doe Bay (as well as ORS) would like to go back to separation, because more recyclables ultimately get recycled. ORS does currently accept sorted aluminum.

When recyclables are co-mingled, much of the recycled materials are deemed trash, due to contamination. Mike has done cost-comparisons to consider renting a warehouse off-island, ship everything to that location, palletize it there, and then send it to a recycling facility; this is because sorted recyclables are actually a commodity. A system like this has the potential to save a significant amount of money for the resort and minimize waste.

Doe Bay is already doing a great job negating compost waste from going into the dumpster (and ultimately to landfills). All compost food waste from the Doe Bay Café is brought to their onsite organic garden to be composted and used in the garden to grow more delicious vegetables and feed the chickens.

An idea they have been discussing as a way to divert waste from the island and help guests of the resort to think twice about their waste—Doe Bay is considering offering guests a 5% discount on their stay if they pack out what they pack in.

Without having a digester (a container in which substances are treated with heat, enzymes, or a solvent in order to promote decomposition or extract essential components), it will be an uphill battle to make Doe Bay zero-waste, but that is not stopping Mike and the Doe Bay team—it is inspiring them to find cutting-edge solutions to the growing problem of waste management. If you can help, please chime in via Facebook or Twitter.