Disney Parks Reduce Waste by 60 Percent in 2010

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Disney's recent Corporate Citizenship report shows that the company reduced its waste to landfill by 60 percent in its theme parks and resorts, exceeding its own waste-diversion targets. Photo: Disney

Disneyland aims to be the happiest place on earth, but it also aspires to send no waste to the landfill.

In its Corporate Citizenship report released last month, the Walt Disney Company revealed that last year, it diverted from the landfill 60 percent, or 181,838 tons, of the trash produced at its theme parks and resorts.

The Burbank, Calif.-based company has a long-term goal of achieving zero waste to landfill at its parks and resorts. 2010 will be the second consecutive year that Disney exceeded its interim target of diverting its waste by 137,556 tons annually or 50 percent of the total waste its parks generated in 2006.

Disney was able to hit its waste reduction goals despite an overall increase in waste produced at its parks from 2006 to 2010 because of construction at Calif.’s Disneyland Resort. To keep on target, Disney collected construction waste for recycling, increased its existing recycling programs and created new recycling programs at every park.

In addition to collecting paper, cans and bottles from guests for recycling, Disney parks maintain recycling programs for materials used in park operations: paper and cardboard, electronics and even polystyrene foam Unwanted linens are donated to the nonprofit Harvest International for distribution to people in need. Disney World collects food scraps for composting, while Disneyland is exploring setting up a similar program.

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Disney’s U.S. parks are also increasing the amount of recycled-content merchandise they offer. Plastic photo passes are now 95-percent recycled content, and all merchandise bags at the Disney World and Disneyland resorts are made from 100-percent recycled plastic.

While Disney set its zero-waste goal for its parks and resorts, the company is working to recycle and reduce waste in its other ventures. Disney Studios is digitizing its film production and distribution to eventually achieve a tapeless, filmless process. Disney’s first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, released in 2003, required 400 million feet of film to create the release prints for movie theaters, whereas Disney’s upcoming Muppets movie will be distributed entirely using a digital format.

Disney-owned television channel ABC operates a Set Reuse Program, encouraging art departments and set designers to choose from a comprehensive online gallery of used production sets. This program not only saves sets and scenery from the landfill, but it also conserves resources by eliminating the need to construct a new set.

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“Disney has a long legacy of caring for the planet, and we are committed to protecting the planet for future generations.  We do this by minimizing our environmental footprint and by inspiring kids, parents, employees and communities to make a lasting, positive change in the world,” said Beth Stevens, Disney’s senior vice-president of corporate citizenship, environment and conservation.

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