In Las Vegas, casinos, restaurants, hotels and other businesses operate around the clock to service residents and tourists from across the globe. From ensuring enough food is prepared to providing over-the-top entertainment, these establishments must keep up with the hustle and bustle of the lively city as well as the amount of waste that piles up each day.
While a number of haulers pick up and process solid waste and recyclable materials, one company is stepping up to the plate to handle these business' food waste. Las Vegas Livestock, which is run by the same owners as Combs Brothers, offers food waste collection and recycling services to local businesses.
"We are located on Republic Services' Apex landfill site, and we primarily cater to the hotel and casino industry," says James Combs, manager of Combs Brothers. "We have employees working 24 hours a day, and we provide the manpower and equipment needed to source separate materials onsite at each establishment, which makes it easy for them to reduce their amount of waste going to landfill by as much as 60 percent."
This past April, Las Vegas Livestock collected 14 totes and nearly 4,000 pounds of food scraps from WasteExpo that were processed and fed to livestock within 24 hours of collection. This was a big milestone for WasteExpo, North America's largest solid waste, recycling and organics industry event.
While Las Vegas Livestock's facility opened in 2017, the Combs Brothers have been involved in the food scrap business for about seven generations. Combs' father was a pioneer in the industry in the 1960s, when food scraps had to be boiled down in big steam pots to kill any pathogens before being fed to pigs and other livestock.
Since then, food waste has been managed in many different ways. Some operations handle postconsumer or factory, but Las Vegas Livestock handles a variety.
"We are able to manage more types of food waste because of our equipment and location," comments Combs. "Many landfills have to deal with complaints about odor, traffic and dust, but we are far enough outside of the city where we don't have to deal with those complaints. While our facility certainly has its odors and transportation costs are higher, we are able to manage things well and keep our mitigation costs down."
The facility has been in production for more than a year, and it's still in a growing phase. It's currently developing an onsite, state-of-the-art cooking process that has a patent pending.
"The process is industrial, so the trucks going to and from the facility will dump their materials into a big hopper, which will cook the food," explains Combs. "The food will then be placed into a de-packaging machine that will separate the organics, spit out the water to make the food dryer and cook it to meet the Swine Health Protection Act standards."
As the business grows, it's also planning on adding other livestock, such as cattle, goat and sheep, to diversify its focus. The facility currently houses about 5,000 pigs and 400 chickens, but it plans to build at least one more barn this year to help house the additional animals it will add in coming months.
"We have a lot going on right now, and it's a very exciting time for us," says Combs. "Once we get the cooking plant up and running, we will be able to expand the business even further. Right now, we are literally putting people on hold because we cannot take on more work, but we will soon be able to take on additional customers and enter new markets. We haven't touched supermarkets or local restaurants yet, but we will get there. There are endless opportunities for us, and I am excited to see what the future holds."