Waste reduction, recycling efforts lauded at Green Awards

Everything from reducing waste in casinos to recycling cigarette butts was honored Friday by the Las Vegas Business Press at the 2012 Green Awards.

The fifth annual Green Awards ceremony attracted about 100 Las Vegas professionals, including those from Caesars Entertainment, Station Casinos, MGM Resorts International and NV Energy. Mike Hengel, editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, kicked off the festivities, followed by Joe Burkel, area president of Republic Services.

"This is really an important thing, we believe, to recognize those individuals and companies that go above and beyond," Burkel said.

Nine businesses received awards in a ceremony at Las Vegas City Hall. There were three new categories this year - Best Green Employer, Best Recycling and Best Green Casino.

Michelle Stewart, retail sales manager for the Business Press and mistress of ceremonies, introduced the categories and presenters.

The Best Recycler Award was presented in conjunction with the event's platinum sponsor, Republic Services, and went to the Freeman Co., a Las Vegas exhibition staging company.

"It's a great recognition for the work that's been done the last three years," said Tom Robbins, executive director of sales for Freeman.

Mike Lash, a supervisor for Freeman, said that in the past three years the company increased its annual landfill diversion rate to 85 percent from 10 percent, and went from recycling 116,000 pounds of materials to 2 million pounds annually. Freeman hired sustainability director Jeff Chase and created a national green task force to strengthen its efforts.

"I believe I've won business because of our recycling program," Robbins said.

Other Green Award winners:

■ Best Green Employer: Media One Pro.

■ Best Practices, Environmental: Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

■ Best Green Practices, Resources: NV Energy.

■ Best Green Practices, Products: Cigarette Pollution Solutions.

■ Best Green Marketing Campaign: Nevada Energy Star Partners Green Alliance.

■ Best Green Nonprofit: Home Free Nevada.

■ Best Green Advocate: Gatski Commercial Real Estate Services.

■ Best Green Casino: Station Casinos.

Ken Beckstead, founder of Cigarette Pollution Solutions, was perhaps the most spirited honoree, thrusting his plaque into the air after his acceptance speech. His line of cigarette disposal boxes are fixtures at 12 California state-run rest stops, includingone at the Golden Gate Bridge. Once collected, the cigarette butts can be reconstituted into plastic products, while the tobacco and paper are burned in a waste-to-energy plant. Beckstead is working on making the boxes a fixture in Las Vegas.

Station Casinos is the first to win in the Best Green Casino category. In the past eight years, the company has supported sustainability initiatives that include reducing energy, waste and water use.

"We are truly proud of the conservation community," said Lori Nelson, vice president of corporate communications.

The Business Press, a business-to-business publication produced by the Review-Journal, hosts the Green Awards each year and accepts nominations for about two months leading up to the event.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@review journal.com or 702-380-4588.