RICHMOND – The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded the Virginia Department of Corrections $88,700 in technical assistance grant funding through their waste management initiative to improve planning and management of solid waste in rural areas. The USDA specifically targeted projects that plan to establish composting programs and emphasize food-waste diversion from landfills. Funding began on October 1, 2018 and will continue through September 30, 2019.
VADOC will use the funds to establish a part-time position responsible for planning, developing and implementing a compost program at 18 prison sites with adjacent farms. This position will work collaboratively with the Environmental Services and Agribusiness units, as well as facility staff, to support the growth of composting programs at these sites. In addition, select VADOC staff will attend training to become certified compost operators in order to continue the oversight of this program once the grant period ends.
In 2017, VADOC facilities produced more than 16,400 tons of waste costing the agency nearly a million dollars in landfill fees. This program aims to reduce the amount of landfilled waste in the target facilities, improve the condition of soil nutrients, increase soil absorption capacity and ultimately save agency resources. In addition, offender workers will gain experience with a variety of composting technologies.
Targeted facilities include:
- Appalachian Detention Center
- Baskerville Correctional Center
- Brunswick Women’s Work Center
- Buckingham Correctional Center
- Caroline Correctional Unit
- Coffeewood Correctional Center
- Cold Springs Correctional Unit
- Deerfield Correctional Center
- Dillwyn Correctional Center
- Green Rock Correctional Center
- Greensville Correctional Center
- Halifax Correctional Unit
- Harrisonburg Diversion Center
- Lunenburg Correctional Center
- Marion Correctional Treatment Center
- Nottoway Correctional Center
- Patrick Henry Correctional Unit
- Rustburg Correctional Unit
- Wise Correctional Unit
Once completed, a full-scale compost program will save a significant amount of money in the reduction of landfill fees and compactor/dumpster rentals and vastly improve the soil condition at agribusiness farms. This grant provides the VADOC an opportunity to change the course of facility waste management by reducing agency dependence on landfills and turning food-waste into a usable product.
Learn more about sustainability programs in corrections: