January 23, 2012
Prisoners long accustomed to having their mattresses torn apart by guards searching for contraband are apparently quite adept at disassembling mattresses themselves. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Hutchinson, Kan., as a Waste Wise State Government Partner of the Year for the facility’s innovative mattress-recycling program.
Minimum custody inmates at the facility are paid 60 cents an hour to break down discarded mattresses into six primary components, which then are recycled. Cotton batting is sold to a North Carolina sound system manufacturer. Metal springs go to a recycler in Colorado. And the wooden frames are recycled by the inmates themselves, remanufactured into furniture, planters and other items. Inmates have also used the reclaimed materials to create items like dog beds.
The discarded mattresses are sourced from all over Kansas, and the facility is always trying to find new feedstocks. Since the program began in 2010, the inmates have recycled 17,000 mattresses, diverting 1.5 million pounds of waste from landfills.
No word on whether they get to keep any stashed cigarettes or Playboys they come across.
Source: The Hutchinson News