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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Casino leftovers may just help save the planet

Pechanga Resort & Casino is creating bio-fuel and compost with food waste.

TEMECULA, Calif. — "This is some buffet," I said to Pechanga's Chef Krystle.  

"Yes. We serve anywhere from 300 people on up to 3,000 people depending on what is going on," said Chef Krystle, who was only talking about her buffet spread. 

Whether you go to a casino to double down at the card table or at the buffet, most people come to Pechanga Resort to indulge. 

"Is this all-you-can-eat crab?" I asked.  

"Yep," said Chef Krystle. 

All-you-can-eat crab means they serve up to 2,000 pounds a day.

Credit: News 8

The casino has many restaurants and unlimited room service. When you feed 7,000 people a day, it may surprise you to hear the leftovers from those meals could help save the planet.  

Yes, casinos are known for excess, but Chef Krystle is helping to redefine what it means to go to a casino and get "wasted."  

"With this much food [and] all of the things we are responsible for producing for our customers, the opposite side of that is equally important. To just throw this into a landfill would be irresponsible without thinking what can we do better," she said.

As much as 20% of the food used to end up in a landfill, but not anymore. 18,000 pounds of food waste goes from Pechanga to an anaerobic digestion facility every week. I needed a Rolaids just thinking about it.

Leftovers may look ugly, but what they become is beautiful.  

"Food waste is powering that truck?" I asked Alex Braicovich from CR&R Environmental Services. 

"Yeah, food waste is powering that truck and many other trucks that we run at CR&R," said Alex. 

He never dreamed three decades ago that there was some much treasure in trash.  

"We actually operate North America's largest anaerobic digester where we take organic waste, green waste and food waste and we convert it into two products, one being renewable natural gas, which fuels our collection trucks, and the other being a soil amendment, a compost that we sell to local farms and also to places like Home Depot and Lowes," said Alex.

Pechanga Resort and Casino serves 7,000 chicken wings a day and literally a ton of crab. However, it's what they are doing with 75,000 pounds of fat on the bone annually that's making a difference.

The scraps help make dog food - and believe it or not - makeup.

So go on, people. Casinos and the green initiative may just help save this planet.