(Salem, OR) — First Lady Cylvia Hayes learned about the Oregon Department of Corrections’ sustainable practices during a tour yesterday of its Salem facility, which recycles items from the state’s 14 prisons.
"Our precious resources in Oregon should be preserved for future generations," First Lady Cylvia Hayes said. "The Department of Corrections is doing its part by accepting the challenge to change its practices. With inmates' help, our prisons recycle more, save energy and reuse items to be more sustainable and conscientious of our environment."
The Department of Corrections launched its comprehensive recycling efforts in January 2013. Adults in custody at each institution sort through trash to reduce the amount each prison sends to landfills. Recycled items include cardboard, ballistic vests, batteries, five-gallon plastic buckets, plastics and clear shrink wrap film, fabric/textiles, shoes, foam, wood, paper, lead, metals, fluorescent bulbs and ballasts, E-waste and chip bags.
Department of Corrections Director Colette S. Peters led the tour, showing the First Lady furniture refurbished by inmates, including a table made of reclaimed wood pallets and once-drab filing cabinets repainted in bright colors. The Recycling Center also serves the Oregon State Hospital and the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.
"We are honored that the First Lady of Oregon has taken an interest in our sustainability efforts," Director Peters said. "The recycling center is just one of our initiatives that saves money, creates work opportunities for adults in custody, and reduces our environmental footprint."
Over the past 15 months, the recycling program has generated cost savings and waste reduction. Highlights include:
• The Central Distribution Center Reuse/Refurbish Center saved the state $370,000 in 2013 by recycling and
refurbishing office furniture and supplies. Items that cannot be repurposed are dismantled for recyclable materials
that generate revenue.
• The Mill Creek Correctional Facility in Salem saves nearly $12,000 a year on its garbage bill, a savings of 75
percent through a reduction of waste. The facility began using the recycle center in October 2013. Garbage pickup
was weekly and now happens once a month.
• The Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem has reduced garbage fees by 50 percent in a two-month period.
• About 70,000 pounds of fabric have been diverted from the landfill since October 2013.
• About 10,000 pounds of shoes have been recycled since January 2014.
• As of March 2014, more than 132,000 snack bags have been collected and processed through TerraCycle, Inc., a
recycling company. The Department of Corrections gets cash credit for the recycled items that it donates to local
The Department of Corrections was recently recognized for its sustainability efforts. In March, the department was named Recycler of the Year at the 2014 Mid-Valley Green Awards Ceremony in Salem. The award honors sustainable and green-minded companies, organizations and people.