Employees of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community make a difference every day by taking a few simple steps to recycle the materials they use. They toss papers into secured shredding boxes available in 126 locations throughout the reservation, including the Gaming Enterprise (Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino), Playworks, Dakotah! Sport and Fitness, The Meadows at Mystic Lake, Mazopiya, Dakotah Meadows, the Shakopee Dakota Convenience Stores and the tribal government facilities. They place empty plastic bottles and caps, glass bottles and aluminum cans in the designated 129 receptacles throughout the property.
Their efforts are making a difference. In 2011, the SMSC recycled more than 362,000 pounds of white office paper, 34,000 pounds of cans, plastic and glass bottles, 58,000 pounds of metals, 1,700 pounds of batteries, and 63,000 pounds of electronic waste, mostly from computers.
“Our goal is to continue recycling as much as we can,” says SMSC GE Inventory Control Manager, Tom Mason. “Revenues generated from recycling can help defray recycling costs and forestall the need for new disposal capacity, as every cubic yard of material recycled is one less cubic yard of landfill space that is required.”
The Inventory Control department collects the recycled paper every week from the various locations and brings it to the Records Retention and Recycling Facility.
The Records Retention Center houses 16,200 boxes of Gaming Enterprise and Community archives. Every month, approximately 800 of these boxes reach their destruction date and are shredded along with papers collected from the recycling receptacles throughout the property.
A new heavy-duty, computerized shredder has made the Gaming Enterprise’s paper recycling process more efficient. Instead of having to separate and spread papers out on a conveyor belt to be shredded through two machines for cross-cutting, the Inventory Control team is now able to place entire folders of paper onto the conveyor belt. The shredding machine carries the papers up the conveyor belt and drops them into a grinder where they are smashed and ripped until small enough to fit through a screen and be sent to a compactor that holds up to eight tons. The shredded paper is later hauled to the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility where its carbon content is used in the composting process. Organic material from landscaping and other uses is also composted, and then the compost is used on other areas of the reservation.
The collected plastic, glass, and aluminum are sent to a recycling center in North Minneapolis. And the collected metals are sent to several vendors, depending on the type of metal. Some of this metal comes from electronic waste that is shredded prior to leaving the property. With the increased use of technology and the need for data privacy, the Gaming Enterprise invested in a metal hard drive shredder two years ago. So far, Inventory Control has shredded more than 8,000 hard drives before sending the material off to a recycler.
Batteries are sent out to yet another vendor each month, after they’re collected by the Gaming Enterprise’s administrative assistants who serve as collection points.
As the network of recycling vendors continues to grow, the options for recycling other products at the Gaming Enterprise will grow as well. “But it really takes the buy-in from everyone within the Gaming Enterprise to make the program successful,” says Mason. “Through education and the visibility of positive results, we feel that team members will see the positive impact of recycling and want to be involved.”