Westmark Hotel (Whitehorse)

 

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The Westmark, the largest hotel in Whitehorse, and over the years has been doing a lot to reduce its contribution to the landfill. They recycle their cardboard by way of Raven Recycling’s pick-up service, have blue bins in all their guest rooms and recycle other things like plastic and paper. Westmark has also gone a step further by working with KBL , who take items like batteries, scrap metal, lightbulbs and smoke detectors for recycling.

In addition to sending things for recycling, Westmark Whitehorse is able to divert a number of other items by way of more informal relationships with other community members. For example, when they are switching out good-quality sheets from their supplies, they donate them to local organizations to sell or otherwise distribute; the same thing happens with shampoos and soaps. A local man takes their used fryer oil to power his vehicles with converted diesel motors, and a local farmer receives some of their organic waste as compost material.

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The hotel is also working to reduce waste on the demand side of things as well. For example, they have switched to buying shampoo and conditioner in bulk, and fill dispensers in the guest rooms as a way of cutting down on the amount of packaging used. Similarly, they are replacing their CFL lightbulbs with LEDs, which have a significantly longer lifespan and use less electricity.

Heather McIntyre, manager of the hotel, expressed a great deal of excitement about their current diversion practices and the potential to do even more. “Once it starts, it mushrooms,” she says, and describes how she feels the staff have been able to create an atmosphere where even some of their newer members are able to ask questions and make suggestions about waste diversion. An example of this is their latest project, the tins of heating fuel for banquet servings. It was a new staff member who brought up the fact that the fuel is not always completely used up in a single banquet, and so now the hotel is looking at ways to make sure that it all gets used and that the containers can be recycled.

Heather believes that the hotel is part of a larger shift across the territory, of businesses realizing that it makes financial and environmental sense to increase their waste diversion practices, and a greater number of organizations with capacity to help with that. “Yukon is getting to the point where we realize we can’t keep just putting things in the landfill,” she says, “We need to accept that businesses need to be accountable, and do our part.”

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