North Carolina Department of Correction - Correction News - December 1998

Composting at Caledonia

As the state’s landfills continue to fill up at an alarming rate, Caledonia Correctional Institution is doing its part to help slow down the process.

Working with Dr. Jim Sheldon and Dr. Bob Rubin from N.C. State University and the Caledonia Farm, Randall Lee, superintendent of Caledonia Correctional Institution, implemented a pilot project for composting kitchen waste into a usable product.

Administrators at Caledonia first considered the idea of building a composting facility to dispose of the prison’s daily supply of kitchen waste in 1997. Since that time and after numerous trips to Raleigh, an application was finally approved in May. The first compost bin was filled May 18.

Since this was a pilot project and no other facilities had ever operated a composting facility before, each bin was filled with different amounts of kitchen waste, fertilizer, chicken manure and bulking agent as a way to find the best formula that can be utilized on a daily basis.

Even as a pilot project, Caledonia has managed to transform 41,135 pounds of undesirable waste into a useful and functioning compost product since the project first began in May. When operating at capacity, the bins can be filled with over 96,000 pounds of kitchen waste at one time.

In order for the composting process to work, the correct ingredients must be placed in the bins and the temperature must rise up to 160 degrees. Then each bin must maintain temperatures of 131 degrees for three consecutive days to meet pathogen reduction requirements and at least 113 degrees for 14 days to reduce the attraction of organisms that transmit pathogens. These temperatures must be monitored daily with a two and three foot probe thermometer. A tank sits adjacent to the composting facility to collect any excessive fluids that drain from the bins.

The cured product is used for potting soil, fertilizer, flower beds and in Caledonia’s green houses. Composting kitchen waste is just one more way prisons can take an undesirable product and transform it into an environmentally conscious and useful product.

NC DOC Homepage
E-mail NC DOC