Saturday, September 18, 2010

The New Old Faithful Center Rocks in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park has 5,000 employees, 2,000 hotel rooms and 2,000 campsites. In 2009 it had 3.3 million visitors with more expected in 2010. Until a few years ago, the thousands of tons of trash generated by all those people were being hauled to a landfill 100 miles away. But, now an aggressive effort to divert, reuse and eliminate the waste has Yellowstone composting and recycling so much that it is diverting 80 percent of its waste (including some 1,200 tons of electronics!) from the landfill. The most prolific item in the waste bins is the plastic water bottle. In 2009, 40 tons of plastic water bottles were recycled and Yellowstone will most likely hit a 90 percent diversion rate by 2011. Even the 10,000 gallons of used cooking oil generated by Park concessioners is recycled and used to create biodiesel that powers everything from hundreds of unmodified vehicles to boilers in the park. And the ubiquitous camp stove propane tanks are now purged of propane that is used to power a generator and a compressor that punctures and flattens the cylinder, which is then recycled as raw steel. So it's only fitting amongst all these wonderful "green" efforts that Yellowstone has constructed a green visitor and education center where the old one stood.