A new recycling project run by prisoners at Maghaberry Prison has slashed the facility’s landfill contribution and costs in the last six months.
Around 30 prisoners are now employed daily in a new initiative which recycles plastic, tin-cans, cardboard, newspaper and even broken pallets. Waste electronic and electrical equipment is also recycled.
In its first six months of operation, the recycling project recovered 11 tonnes of scrap metal and 9.5 tonnes of plastics and paper. That is equivalent to the weight of 12 cars.
In addition to the environmental benefits, prisoners who sign up to the project can also gain NVQ qualifications, with a number being offered jobs with local recycling companies once their sentence is complete.
One Prisoner, who gained a Level 1 NVQ in Manual Handling, said: “The reason I got involved was because it keeps you out of trouble. You’re out working all day and I’d rather be doing something with my time.”
A Material Recovery Facility or ‘picking station’, shredder and waste-bailer have been purchased by the Northern Ireland Prison Service at a cost of £150,000.
During 2015-16 Maghaberry Prison spent £62,000 on skips and waste disposal, this cost has significantly reduced in 2016 / 17, with the aim of cutting waste costs by half in the coming years.
Tony Ladurner, a tutor with Extern who is involved in delivering the qualifications, said: “So far this year we have put 36 men through NVQ qualifications - some certificates and some diplomas - and there has been some very good results. This project gives ownership to the prisoners; they own the project and they take pride in their work.”
David Kennedy, Governor at Maghaberry, said: “Recycling is incredibly important for the environment and it is also very important for the Northern Ireland Prison Service in reducing the cost of our landfill.
“It’s also a growing industry in Northern Ireland and already we have several employers who are offering positions for people who want to take a better road when they’re released. Ultimately, Maghaberry Prison is working to reduce reoffending by challenging people, and supporting them to change and this initiative is another way to achieve this.”
The project is also working to support the local community, with prisoners involved in making briquettes from shredded paper, on site at zero cost. So far 2,000 bags of briquettes have been produced with many donated to local charities.
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