Green gam­ble pays off at city casino

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist puts the lid on re­sort’s car­bon print

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ME­LANIE PETERS

WHEN Siglinda Losch joined GrandWest as a sec­re­tary over two years ago the casino had just scored zero per­cent in an in­de­pen­dent green au­dit.

Soon Losch, 26, showed ini­tia­tive and raised con­cerns about the en­vi­ron­ment, so the casino bosses made her the en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cer and gave her an op­por­tu­nity to come up with ways to shrink the casino’s car­bon foot­print.

She has been so suc­cess­ful that it scored al­most 80 per­cent for green is­sues in the lat­est au­dit by the Her­itage En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Com­pany.

“I al­ways asked ques­tions about how or­di­nary peo­ple like me could pos­i­tively af­fect global warm­ing. I asked ques­tions like why GrandWest didn’t re­cy­cle,” Losch said this week.

Her ques­tions have led to the in­tro­duc­tion of var­i­ous en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ini­tia­tives in the mas­sive GrandWest com­plex.

“Google be­came my best friend and I have also joined on­line news let­ters on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues,” she said.

Work­ing with a team, Losch started with small things like re­cy­cling pa­per by in­tro­duc­ing white pa­per re­cy­cling bins in the offices. She watched how truck­loads of rub­bish were taken off the prop­erty and de­cided they should sep­a­rate their waste.

She can­vassed all the restau­rants and stores and got them to put their rub­bish in two dif­fer­ent bins – wet, which was for food, and dry, which was for plas­tics and bot­tles.

“It was a ma­jor headache get­ting them to com­ply. We wanted to in­sti­tute fines but some of them got clever and would just aban­don their bins so we could not trace it back to them.”

How­ever, Losch said they came up with a bar­code sys­tem that showed which bin was taken and re­turned by a restau­rant or store. “At our last count (only) 40 of the 4 500 bins cleared ev­ery month were not sep­a­rated. We re­cy­cle 96 000kg of waste a month and from the bars on the casino floor we re­cy­cle 8 000kg of glass.”

An­other project she has tack­led in­volved re­cy­cling the 3 000 litres of waste wa­ter gen­er­ated at the ice rink each day. For this project, and sev­eral oth­ers, she works closely with a team of en­gi­neers.

“This wa­ter was dumped in what I call a big ce­ment dam. Now it is used to wa­ter the gar­dens and I have also asked our en­gi­neers to ex­per­i­ment with re-us­ing the wa­ter in the cool­ing tow­ers at­tached to the air-con­di­tion­ing plant. They are now fi­nal­is­ing their de­signs.

“There is an ob­vi­ous sav­ing in that we don’t need to draw as much wa­ter from mu­nic­i­pal sources for top-up pur­poses. Over a pe­riod of 30 days, this means we will have saved in ex­cess of 90 000 litres of wa­ter, equal to three 30m 3 swim­ming pools.”

Losch and her team have also tack­led the eight man-made wet­lands on the prop­erty which were over­grown with alien veg­e­ta­tion, mainly Port Jack­son, Typhoo grasses and bul­rushes.

“This re­sulted in im­proved wa­ter flow and an en­hanced wet­land habi­tat. Over 20 species of birds have be­gun to nest in th­ese ar­eas.”

A num­ber of other projects are on the cards, like a nurs­ery and com­post­ing site that will be run as a self-sus­tain­ing busi­ness.

They are also looking at a com­mu­nity kitchen gar­den that will serve Ruyterwacht.

Losch has en­cour­aged staff to roll up their sleeves and help clean up the Elsies River and its canal. She is plan­ning a clean-up in De­cem­ber or Jan­uary.

“I can­vass staff as I walk along the corridor or dur­ing lunch breaks. I put posters up and send e-mails to staff.”

Losch, who was born in Namibia, said she had trained as a le­gal sec­re­tary and worked in Lon­don for two years.

“Grow­ing up in Namibia, I’ve al­ways been close to the en­vi­ron­ment. It’s im­por­tant that we all shrink our car­bon foot print.”

Next year Losch plans to study en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs through Unisa.

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