Prison system heralds a new food-composting system


The Phil­adelphia Pris­on Sys­tem re­cently held a rib­bon-cut­ting ce­re­mony for its new food-waste com­post­ing fa­cil­ity.

The event took place out­side Holmes­burg Pris­on. Com­mis­sion­er Louis Giorla and pro­ject man­ager Laura Cas­sidy were joined by of­fi­cials from the fed­er­al En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency and Ara­mark Food Ser­vices, neigh­bor­hood res­id­ents and Mike Tom­lin­son, the Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate in the 5th Sen­at­ori­al Dis­trict.

Last year, the EPA’s Re­gion III of­fice in Cen­ter City awar­ded a $15,000 sol­id waste grant to the pris­on sys­tem, which provides more than 23,000 meals a day.

As part of the green ini­ti­at­ive, the sys­tem trained in­mates to man­age the com­post­ing of food waste from pris­on fa­cil­it­ies.

The pi­lot pro­ject takes place at River­side Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­ity, on State Road. It has an av­er­age daily pop­u­la­tion of 650 and pro­duces an es­tim­ated 150 pounds of food waste per day.

At the end of each meal served in pris­on, whatever isn’t con­sumed is dis­carded as rub­bish in­to land­fills at $77 a ton.

Com­post­ing food scraps will re­duce land­fill charges, which will save the city money. Once the sys­tem is com­pletely func­tion­al, and the food waste from the more than 9,000 in­mates in the six Phil­adelphia pris­ons is com­pos­ted, it could save the city more than $250,000 a year.

As an ad­ded be­ne­fit, some of the con­ver­ted high-qual­ity or­gan­ic fer­til­izer will be used in pris­on green­houses. Also, com­munity gar­dens will re­ceive rich top soil from the com­post.

In ad­di­tion, pris­on­ers will re­ceive green cer­ti­fic­a­tions, which can help them with em­ploy­ment op­por­tun­it­ies after their re­lease. ••


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