Zero Waste Part 2: Sustained Strategy Requires Ongoing Analysis

Kristin Kinder

In part one of this two-part post, we outlined how Caesars Entertainment Corporation rebooted its zero waste journey with Ecova by revisiting its goal, establishing a baseline, and conducting a waste audit. In this installment, we’ll take a look at how Jeff Ruskowitz, Manager of Engineering and Sustainable Operations at Caesars, used that audit and ongoing data analysis to help the company stick with its zero waste strategy.

Caesars’s recent waste audit of two facilities revealed plenty of low-hanging fruit in the form of waste that’s easily recycled or altogether mitigated. The experience opened Ruskowitz’s eyes to the amount of glass and aluminum that was presumably being recycled but which was actually making its way into trash compactors.

In an organization like Caesars, solving that problem requires changing the behavior of both employees andguests. Ruskowitz began sharing detailed waste audit reports from Ecova with property-specific CodeGreen teams comprised of a team leader and representatives from each key department, including Housekeeping, Food and Beverage, and Facilities. For those site-level employees, the visual representation of what’s going into the company’s trash compactors crystallizes the opportunities for improvement at each facility.

The waste stream analysis has also extended the company’s outreach and education initiatives to guests, through increased training of associates and the deployment of additional signage and waste diversion infrastructure.

Still, the analysis revealed that food waste diversion remains the company’s most impactful opportunity to achieve its zero waste goals. Waste audit findings there have informed the company’s food waste mitigation strategy, and with help from Ecova, those findings have resulted in an increase in Caesars’s relationships with composting facilities, food banks and pantries, farms and bioenergy facilities at many of their properties. Food waste diversion strategies are often difficult for organizations to manage on their own, as opportunities to divert food waste are very location specific; in some areas, certain composting or recycling opportunities simply aren’t available. Through weekly communication with his program manager at Ecova, Ruskowitz is continually informed about new and unfolding opportunities to divert specific waste materials at certain Caesars properties.


Caesars recognized years ago that waste diversion is good for its business. Today, the more the company quantifies its progress, the more confidence it instills in its stakeholders. Cost savings have also added to the momentum – the more waste Caesars diverts, the more it saves in operating costs.

Based on the success of its initial waste audits, Caesars is currently planning more waste stream analysis activities to further refine site-specific diversion efforts. While its initial audits provided a snapshot of diversion opportunities that could be applied at other locations in the Caesars portfolio, waste streams can vary greatly depending on the type of site and the local recycling programs available. Thus, waste stream audits shouldn’t be treated as a one-off, single location exercise, but instead an ongoing analysis of waste disposal trends and diversion progress.

Since Ruskowitz took the reigns of the waste diversion exercise at Caesars with help from Ecova, the company has improved to 44 percent diversion of its waste—up from 23 percent—in just two years.

Read the case study, Caesars Takes Strides Toward 50 Percent Diversion by 2020, here.

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