Vail Resorts Makes ‘Epic Promise’ For Zero Footprint

By Matt Kroschel

KEYSTONE, Colo. (CBS4)– Not even one pound of trash will head for a landfill after 2030 from Vail Resorts properties under a newly announced “epic promise” to be more environmentally friendly.

Vail Resorts officials say their “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” will commit zero net emissions by 2030, zero waste to landfill by 2030 and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat.

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(credit: CBS)

At Keystone Resort in Summit County that means planting thousands of new trees, reusing older equipment and trading out non-recyclable containers for items that can be reused.

Keystone has already taken steps to lessen the footprint on the environment. A recent project to replace a major lift means they will send those lift towers to Beaver Creek, reusing the material there. The mountain bike course structures are all built from reused and repurposed materials. Even the wood chips at the kids area on the mountain come from beetle kill trees.

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(credit: CBS)

“Everything we do at Vail Resorts is driven by the spectacular natural surroundings where our employees, guests and communities live, work and play. The environment is our business, and we have a special obligation to protect it,” Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, said in a statement released to CBS4. “As a growing global company so deeply connected to the outdoors, we are making a commitment to address our most pressing global environmental challenge and protect our local communities and natural resources.”

More on the plan from Vail Resorts:

Zero net emissions by 2030:

Vail Resorts will achieve net zero emissions in its operations by 2030 through the following initiatives:

  • Reducing the Company’s electricity and natural gas use by another 15 percent – in addition to the 19 percent already achieved – by improving operating practices and investing $25 million in innovative, energy-saving projects, such as low-energy snowmaking equipment, green building design and construction, and more efficient grooming practices and equipment.
  • Since 2008, Vail Resorts has implemented an aggressive plan to reduce its electricity and natural gas use and has already achieved a 19 percent reduction, after adjusting for acquisitions and new business locations.
  • Purchasing 100 percent renewable energy equivalent to Vail Resorts’ total electrical energy use and working with utilities and local, regional and national governments to bring more renewable energy to the grids where the Company operates its resorts.
  • The Company is already a member of Ceres Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy as well as RE100, a global collaborative initiative of influential companies committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity.
  •  Investing in programs such as tree planting to offset the use of other types of energy (e.g., gasoline and diesel).
  • Engaging with the Company’s vendors and suppliers to identify and collaborate on opportunities for them to reduce their emissions and environmental impact.
  • Providing resort guests with information and opportunities for them to reduce or offset their carbon footprint.
  • Sharing the Company’s progress in achieving its “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” goals in an annual sustainability report following the fiscal year ending July 2018, which will follow the Global Reporting Initiative’s standard.
  • Vail Resorts intends to achieve a 50 percent reduction in its net emissions by 2025, based on 2016 levels.

Zero waste to landfill by 2030

Vail Resorts plans to achieve its 2030 goal of “zero waste to landfill” by diverting 100 percent of the waste from its operations to more sustainable pathways. Currently at a 40 percent waste diversion rate across its entire operations, the Company has set its sights on an interim target of diverting 50 percent of its waste by 2020. Vail Resorts plans to achieve this goal by:

  • Improving its recycling and composting program.
  • Engaging with vendors to reduce packaging and to source recyclable and compostable products.
  • Working with local resort communities to increase options for reuse and diversion.
  • Increasing awareness and engagement with employees and guests through signage, labeling and training.

Zero net operating impact to forests and wildlife habitat

To protect the spectacular mountain landscapes in which Vail Resorts operates, the Company commits to the following initiatives:

  • Minimizing or eliminating the impact of any future resort development.
  • Planting or restoring an acre of forest for every acre of forest displaced by the Company’s operations, with the goal of achieving improved species and age diversity, resulting in healthier, more resilient forests.
  • Continuing and expanding Vail Resorts’ existing commitments to partner with and fund local organizations focused on the health of forests, habitat and wildlife. In 2016, for example, the Company contributed more than $1 million to 50 environmental stewardship projects through direct grants, the Company’s $1 guest donation initiative, and the 1% for the Forest commitment, made in partnership with the National Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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