A recycling programme at a New South Wales prison has successfully streamlined 80 tonnes of waste from landfills along with generating crucial funding for homelessness irradicating initiatives.
Since 2019, inmates under maximum security from South Coast Correctional Centre have been relentlessly sorting and recycling materials available inside the prison, like their aluminium meal trays, cardboard and drink containers.
The programme coordinator, Steve Orton, exclaimed that the drive had unleashed a humungous impact on the prison's environmental footprint.
"We've recycled about 56 tonnes of cardboard and about 26 tonnes of co-mingled waste," he stated.
"It's quite a lot, and that stuff is not going to landfill anymore," Orton mentioned in a positive tone.
"One hundred per cent of that waste was just going into the big red bins, so it's a bit of a change-up," he added.
Mr Orton thinks that this is an extremely beneficial initiative for the inmates, who are also being trained with a discourse to make them adjust better to life after prison.
"It breaks up the day for the inmates — it gets them out of the yard and out of their cells and helps make their days go quicker," he said.
"It helps them in their day-to-day, too, because they know they're making a bit of a difference," Orton pointed out.
"Through the training section of the jail, we've also integrated some qualifications, so a few of the guys are doing a Certificate 3 in waste management," he illustrated.
The aluminium beverage containers are recycled via the New South Wales government's Return and Earn programme, while the aluminium trays are sold to a scrap metal recycler.
Mr Orton informed sources that the entire money raised from these portals is donated to the Shoalhaven Homeless Hub.
"It was going to be a one-off thing, but it's ended up being a bit of partnership," he said.
"The inmate delegate committee had a bit of a brainstorm with the admins and management and hand-picked a few local charities, but the Homeless Hub was selected," Orton notified.
"The guys, when they leave, they could end up having to use that service for themselves," he spoke with optimism.
Julie Bugden, the Homeless Hub team leader, explained that the donations from the prison were of intense help as she proposed that the system might help decrease the number of serious offenders.
"That money helps us organise activities for our homeless clients, especially the ones that have been released from jail, where they're not socially isolated," Julie promptly added.
"Hopefully, it gives the inmates a purpose to prevent that recidivism," she concluded.
The South Coast Correctional Centre harvests ideas of expanding the programme in 2023 to introduce the separation of food waste.
Identical recycling drives are being followed in the North Coast Correctional Centre at Kempsey and at the privately operated Clarence Correctional Centre.
Somewhere, there are plans to initiate the programme in a broader sense at prisons all over the state. The programme can be deemed as a part of National Corrections Day.