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What We're Doing

Environmental Action at Yellowstone National Park

We are a company based upon values that reflect an environmental ethic and social conscience – for the long term. We are taking the lead in this effort and are implementing comprehensive environmental initiatives throughout our operations. Xanterra’s business practices exemplify environmental stewardship, and a desire to protect and preserve the public lands on which we operate.

  • In 2018, we diverted 54% of our waste from landfill disposal. Through innovative composting and recycling programs, we were able to keep nearly 3 million pounds of material from entering our local landfills. In addition to conventional recyclables (cans, bottles, paper, etc.), Xanterra also recycles or donates for reuse electronic waste, used oil, tires, laundry bags, linens, curtains, batteries, cooking oil, manure, solvents, and more.
  • Xanterra sorts refuse to send to the West Yellowstone Compost Facility, where all park organics are processed into a marketable soil amendment. Over a million pounds of waste is turned into compost each year.
  • Our service center recycles all used automotive batteries, tires, Freon, antifreeze, and paint solvents.
  • Our parkwide bulk amenities program reduces waste by using refillable in-room amenities for soaps and lotions, as we continuously work to eliminate unnecessary materials from entering our waste stream.
  • We recycle all manure from stable operations and provide it to local agricultural businesses, including over 380,000 pounds in 2018.
  • Since 2013, we have been retrofitting our in-room waste sorting options to encourage guests to keep wast out of the landfill. This system, intended to increase Xanterra’s waste diversion rate by offering a wider variety of sorting options for our guests, incorporated new and enhanced waste messaging and signage with detailed sorting guidelines and visual cues as to how waste can be properly sorted. Instead of the option of sorting only by recyclable vs. non-recyclable, guests now have separate bins for recycling, compost, and landfill waste. As of 2018, we have these waste sorting stations in nearly 80% of our rooms and aim to complete the installation in 2019.
  • To round out our waste collection infrastructure, Back Alley Metals, a company based nearby in Red Lodge, Montana, has custom designed exterior waste and recycling containers for our public locations. Having these strategically placed throughout the park helps to ensure that our guests have ample opportunities for waste management and recycling during their stay.


  • In 2018, we used 25% less water than we did during our 2014 baseline year (normalized by revenue)
  • We utilize an extremely efficient tunnel washer in our laundry operations that employs a water recovery system with reported increases in water efficiency of more than 70% for the over 4 million pounds of laundry that we wash annually. It now takes only about 0.3 gallons of water to wash 1 pound, in addition to demonstrating a reduction in chemical use.
  • Unless visitors request more frequent replacement, we only change out towels and linens in guest rooms after three days, in order to reduce water and detergent use.
  • We do not irrigate our grounds except in some limited areas, as required by NPS.


  • We have made extensive strides in improving the efficiency of our lighting throughout the park. Examples of this include converting our fluorescent fixtures from T-12 to T-8 bulbs, installing energy efficient LED’s, and installing timers or motions sensors to automatically shut off lighting when it is not necessary.
  • The Old Faithful “Old House” rooms, front desk candelabras and dining room, as well as the Roosevelt Lodge chandeliers, received a full LED retrofit from the existing “Edison-style” incandescent light bulbs.  These LEDs mimic filament bulbs in order to uphold the historic aesthetics of these iconic buildings.

Resource Conservation & Efficiency

  • Our maintenance crew shuts down boilers where applicable on locations during times of low demand. We continue to phase in boilers that operate on propane, which burns more cleanly than fuel oil.
  • We utilize vendor misers—a power saving device—to reduce lighting on most of the park’s vending machines.
  • We have implemented an aggressive energy management program in Food & Beverage focusing on managing and minimizing energy use including water, electricity, and propane. We distribute posters, stickers, and checklists that make managing the program straightforward and user friendly.
  • Housekeeping has created an energy conservation program that includes unplugging appliances (hair dryers, mini fridges and fans) in vacant/due-out guestrooms to conserve energy.
  • Our procurement and design standards for appliances, equipment, and structures are based on green best practices, including those required for LEED certification and in conjunction with Xanterra’s overall efficiency guidelines. For example, we favor Energy Star-rated purchases wherever possible.
  • A significant aspect of sustainability is durability; we value the resources and materials that go into our buildings, furniture and other equipment and seek to make it last as long as possible through restoration by dedicated staff, before buying replacements. For example, our support services team rebuilds vehicles, thereby reducing the need for natural resources and energy to generate new vehicles.
  • In 2016, the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room became certified as a Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association (the first 4-Star Restaurant in the National Park Service), a non-profit organization that provides a way for restaurants to demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability. To achieve its Green Restaurant certification, the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room installed waterless urinals, high-efficiency hand dryers, dual-flush toilets, and super energy efficient LED lamps, and sources of local, organic, and sustainable cuisine.

Clean Energy

  • Because on-site generation of renewable energy can be quite challenging within the boundaries of a National Park, Yellowstone has a policy of offsetting 100% of our fossil fuel based electricity.
  • We collect thousands of gallons of ‘waste’ vegetable oil generated from food service operations for reuse by a local business that converts it into biofuel.
  • Xanterra has a number of buildings that have been certified through the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Examples of these are as follows
    • Teal Employee Residence (Gold) 2018
    • Haynes Administration Building (Gold) 2017
    • Chittenden, Hayden, Moran, and Rhyolite Lodges (Gold) 2016
    • Washburn Lodge (Silver) 2016
    • Paintbrush Employee Residence (Platinum) 2015
    • Gardiner Employee Housing (Certified) 2004. This was the first LEED project in the state of Montana.
  • Published a handbook for architects and contractors on “Guidelines for Environmentally Sustainable Design & Construction” to inject environmental aspects into new builds and renovation projects and created the Xanterra Builds Green website to serve as a resource for our employees and contractors.
  • Requires contractors for all remodeling and new construction projects to divert, at minimum, at least 50% of resulting waste from landfill disposal through reuse or recycling. They must also complete a Waste Reduction Plan prior to contract approval, and submit a quarterly project report detailing all activities related to waste minimization and recycling.
  • Reduced annual gasoline usage by over 20,000 gallons from our 2014 baseline to 2018 and reduced diesel use by over 16,000 gallons for the same time frame.
  • Replaced two-stroke engines with cleaner-burning and more efficient four-stroke engines on all rental boats.
  • We operate oversnow vehicles, including snowcoaches, in the wintertime that meet stringent NPS best available technology standards as part of collaborative efforts to reduce emissions and noise pollution in the park. This includes a conversion from tracked snowcoaches to ones that use Low Pressure Tires (LPT’s) that reduce fuel consumption by approximately 30%.
  • We operate 15 hybrid Toyota Prius cars with high mpg for park-wide operations.
  • For the larger vehicles in our fleet, particularly diesel-powered buses, we are working on a three-year phase out of the oldest, least efficiently burning vehicles. This reduces carbon emissions and improves air quality for park visitors, wildlife and our overall climate. In addition, we have joined park partners for an ongoing educational campaign to reduce engine idling and trips that run at less-than-full capacity.
  • Purchases new vehicles at the most fuel-efficient in their category according to the DOE website. Retires older vehicles with poor mpg during annual fleet purchase.
  • In partnership with the National Park Service and Yellowstone Teton Clean Cities, we have installed a number of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations throughout the park.  We currently have Level II stations at the following locations:
    • Mammoth Hotel (2)
    • Mammoth Haynes Administration Building (1)
    • Old Faithful Lodge Lower Loop (2)
    • Teal Employee Residence at Lake (1)
    • Rhyolite Lodge at Canyon (2)
    • Washburn Lodge at Canyon (2)
  • We also have several new EV installations happening in 2019, so get ready for even more options to charge!



  • Preference to products and vendors that minimize packaging and/or provide material take-back and reuse opportunities. For example, one of our largest food distribution companies utilizes plastic pallets for shipping, and takes them back for reuse instead of using wood pallets that tend to break. Our park-wide bulk amenities program also reduces waste by using refillable in-room amenities for soaps and lotions, and bear-shaped bar soaps that are shipped without individual wrapping.
  • In addition to office paper with 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content, our paper print shop products, dining menus, guest room directories and signage are also high PCR content as well as processed chlorine-free (PCF) and printed with soy inks whenever possible. For example: we have upgraded our in-room Guest Service Directory binders to ones with recycled content material.
  • We have removed all non-recyclable paper (neon colors) from our print shop.
  • Sanitary paper is 100% PCR and PCF for more than 2,200 guest rooms, campgrounds and RV parks; towels for dispensers at all properties and restrooms; and napkins in employee dining rooms and cafeterias.
  • Sustainably sourced waste sorting fixtures such as locally made, recycled-content Back Alley Metals outdoor recycling stations and recycled content in-room waste sorting units.
  • Switched all of its pens in lodging services to Bic Ecolutions that are made from 75% pre-consumer plastic.
  • Eliminated all Styrofoam disposable food containers from operations.


  • At the end of 2017, Xanterra installed a new electrolyzed water system to generate our own clean, safe, and affordable cleaning and sanitizing products. This PathoSans system, which electrochemically activates water (creating one solution to clean and one solution to sanitize) was installed in the Mammoth area and will completely eliminate the majority of chemicals used on location in favor of a product with a nearly negligible environmental impact.
  • In the winter of 2016/2017, Xanterra piloted an innovative new program to reduce the environmental impacts of a guest’s overnight stay. The Our Softer Footprint Green Housekeeping Program gives guests who are staying two or more nights the option of completely forgoing housekeeping service during their stay including room cleaning, towel and linen changes, and amenity replenishment.  This program has continued since the pilot and now includes a $5 per night incentive for guests who choose to participate and is seeing a participation rate of over 55%. The program has the park-wide potential to save 300,000 gallons of water, 150,000 kWh of electricity, and 10,000 gallons of propane annually.
  • We review all new chemicals introduced into our park operations for environmental attributes through our Chemical Review Committee and try to minimize the total number of products.
  • We source only biodegradable and environmentally preferable laundry detergent in campground vending.
  • Housekeeping and other cleaning chemicals that are eco-friendly, including as designated through Green Seal, for the majority of our routine needs.
  • Converted to propylene glycol coolant (from ethylene glycol) in all areas of operation to reduce potential toxicity to wildlife.

Equipment & Building Systems

  • Automatically adjusted and/or programmable, energy- and fuel-efficient equipment, devices, lighting, HVAC-R, etc.
  • Water efficient fixtures for replacements and construction.
  • Sustainable building and interior materials in addition to those with recycled content, such as regionally sourced, rapidly renewable resource, and/or non-toxic flooring, trims, walls, etc. Includes zero- or low-VOC paints, finishes, adhesives and sealants.
  • Zero ozone-depleting substances (CFC’s etc.) in HVAC-R, including for vehicles.
  • The most fuel-efficient vehicles (by class according to the DOE website) are purchased, with preference for hybrids and other high efficiency vehicles in high-use applications.
  • We strive to educate our guests about climate change in the parks and options for reducing our individual and collective impacts through sustainable product choices. Our Retail operation provides a growing array of environmentally friendly merchandise. Products are labeled wherever possible to indicate environmentally preferable status (i.e., organic, locally/regionally produced or Made in USA, sustainable harvested, culturally significant (e.g., Native American art), made of re-purposed or post-consumer recycled materials, made from renewable resources, reusable, biodegradable, third party eco- or socially-responsible certification, etc.).
  • Examples of more sustainable products that we offer in gift shops include: durable and reusable items, such as water bottles; recycled content home decor; sustainably packaged gifts; local goods like pottery and clothing; gourmet foods, such as those with Montana huckleberry ingredients; and Native American-made crafts.
  • In addition to utilizing repurposed wine bottles as our in-room glasses, we also sell the glasses in our gift stores. These glasses are branded with a unique sustainability message and YNPL logo, and provide an excellent interpretative opportunity for our guests.
  • As part of our interorganizational effort with others across Yellowstone to transition away from the use single-use disposable plastic water bottles, we’re offering new amenities. We encourage and enable guests to stay hydrated with fresh tap water from the park, and they can replenish at water filling stations found throughout our locations in Yellowstone. In the summer of 2013, Xanterra installed our first dedicated water bottle filling unit, or “hydration station” in the lobby of the Mammoth Hotel. As of early 2015, we will have dedicated stations in four lodging properties and will be adding three more; all locations will have dedicated filling stations by 2016.
  • To complement the hydration station program, we provide lodging guests the option to purchase reusable water bottles. We also offer a variety of reusable containers, at a range of price points, for purchase in gift shops.
  • We do not automatically offer shopping bags to guests at our gift stores, and instead them the option to request a disposable bag. These are made with almost 100% recycled content and our paper gift bags certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • In addition, guests who spend over $50 get a free reusable tote bag (85% recycled content).

Sustainable cuisine’s impacts don’t stop at environmental sustainability. One of the most significant and far-reaching effects of a commitment to sustainable cuisine is the multitude of ancillary impacts that sustainable food choices have on local economies and community development. Keeping food dollars local creates jobs, builds community, protects habitat, and maintains a farming and ranching heritage—all critical values in our rural western communities. To support continued market transformation and support such assets, Yellowstone National Park Lodges collaborates on a daily basis with agricultural vendors to incorporate local foods into menus wherever possible. Meeting the demands of YNPL’s quality standards while finding producers who can service Xanterra’s high peak-season volumes can be challenging for a small business. Our Food & Beverage department has been instrumental in helping to build the local infrastructure to support otherwise undeveloped markets and achieve mutual quality and sustainability goals with such enterprises.

  • Xanterra has a serious commitment to serving our employees and guests healthy and sustainable cuisine whenever possible. In 2018, over 60% of our total food purchases were sourced according to at least one sustainable attribute. These purchases cover guest as well as employee dining provisions. Our goal is to achieve 70% sustainable sourcing by 2025.
  • Sustainable options that we consider when sourcing food products: local/regional production regional (e.g., Western Sustainability Exchange partner), eco-certified (e.g. Fair Trade, USDA Organic, non-GMO and Rainforest Alliance), antibiotic- and hormone-free, responsibly harvested, animal welfare and vegetarian attributes.
  • All of our dining menus utilize icons to highlight sustainable choices and some of the producers who we work with.
  • YNPL’s sustainable food program partners with hundreds of local producers in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and surrounding areas. A key to boosting local economies has been YNPL’s relationship with the Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE) in nearby Livingston, Montana. WSE is committed to connecting producers with food purchasers to stimulate sustainable and healthy food systems and strengthen rural communities. The benefit of this partnership is demonstrated by the many new producer relationships that Xanterra has cultivated. The impacts that related purchases have had on these small businesses are significant and help stimulate local market access to high-quality and environmentally preferable products. WSE’s livestock considerations include: no hormones or antibiotics; low-stress handling; produced in the region; USDA Certified Organic; Sustainable Stewardship Practices (habitat conservation, etc.), grass-fed certified; and non-GMO seed or feed.
  • The Director of Sustainability for Yellowstone National Park Lodges serves on the Western Sustainability Exchange’s board.
  • Examples of sustainable cuisine include local fare such as: teas from Tumblewood Teas; flour and bread products from Wheat Montana; goat cheese from Amaltheia Organic Dairy; lamb from Wolf Ridge; natural prime rib from Harris Ranch; Idaho potatoes; healthy, grass-fed game such as elk and bison; trout from MT Trout Culture in Paradise Valley; and a variety of locally produced beer, wine, and spirits.
  • Instead of selling fossil fuel-based plastic bottles of water, all of our to-go food services offer alternatively packaged, recyclable water bottle products.
  • We continuously reduce the amount of solid waste generated from dining operations in restaurants, delis, cafeterias and other food service areas through the increasing use of bulk condiments. In addition, disposable food and beverage to-go items are made from biodegradable and industrially compostable materials (e.g., paper, corn starch or polylactic acid, or PLA equivalent). Includes containers, utensils, plates, cups and paper products for guests at Concession Facilities.
  • We contributed to the National Park Service’s Food For The Parks initiative, including a case study report and the strategic Roadmap publication for best practices in concessions management.
  • Implemented ongoing Environmental Responsibility training for all employees, including general orientation and environmental tailgates.
  • In 2011, the Xanterra Sustainability office launched SustainaBits, a weekly dispatch highlighting environmental programs, information, opportunities that is distributed to all employees. SustainaBits topics range from sustainable cuisine menu items, environmental volunteer opportunities, and updated information on park-wide environmental programs.
  • Assembled a very active “Green Team” (called the Yellowstone Environmental Stewardship Council) to encourage employee participation in environmental initiatives and to develop new and innovative ways to move forward toward environmental sustainability.
  • Publishes a Softer Footprint summary of Xanterra’s continued commitment to environmental stewardship at Yellowstone, including project cameos and an Ecomap of the park.
  • Our overall environmental footprint and community support initiatives are explained in Xanterra’s company-wide Corporate Responsibility Report
  • Instituted a “Help Protect Yellowstone” campaign to increase environmental awareness of employees.
  • Utilizes a comprehensive training program, “Keeping Yellowstone Green: A Guide for Xanterra Employees” to educate our employees on our environmental programs and their roles and responsibilities to be stewards of the park.
  • Features articles and informational posts in the park newsletter, employee newsletter, Twitter and Facebook pages about our environmental programs and green tips.
  • Provide in-room environmental education features for guests that includes a reusable water bottle, the Our Softer Footprint brochure, and information our nonprofit partner Yellowstone Forever.
  • Provides free Eco-Kids activity books.
  • All guest rooms feature signage on waste sorting bins to assist with proper sorting of recyclable and compostable (where offered) materials from landfill trash.
  • Guest rooms feature hang tags and mirror decals to support towel and linen reuse and water conservation in general.
  • We incorporate our Green Star employee environmental awards program, which recognizes excellence in environmental leadership either through demonstration of ongoing commitment to our sustainability values at Xanterra or by proposing an idea with tangible environmental benefits that is accepted for implementation by the company.
  • Interact on a regular basis with visitor and student groups that request presentations on Sustainability at Yellowstone, as related to eco-tourism, green careers, climate change in national parks, business innovation, and similar themes.
  • We also contribute to building interesting and current content via our Yellowstone National Park Lodges Sustainability Blog.