B. Hunt, Governor
|Preparations underway for Y2K||Department charged with
finding new ways to protect the environment
Gov. Jim Hunt has charged state government employees with the task of finding new ways to preserve our natural resources.
"The Governor said to be innovative, be creative, and he wants discussion," Mills said.
Gov. Hunt charged Assistant Secretary Lynn Phillips with the task of being the sustainability officer for the Department of Correction. Phillips named Randy Lee of Correction Enterprises as sustainability coordinator for the department.
"While the department has made a concerted effort to improve its efficiency, with recycling and waste reduction being one of the strategies, sustainability is a more comprehensive agenda targeting, specifically, the protection of our environment," Phillips said.
Environmental sustainability may sound like a complicated term, but the department has some easy examples of what sustainability is all about:
Caledonia Correctional Institutions composting project turned thousands of pounds of kitchen waste into potting soil and fertilizer for its greenhouses.
Brown Creek Correctional Institution reduced its waste by 60 percent by composting food, shredded paper, dryer lint and hair from the barber shop. The prison also switched from using half-pint milk cartons to a bulk dispenser and replaced five-gallon detergent containers with 55-gallon reusable drums. Inmates recycle other waste, and employees bring their own coffee mugs to work instead of using Styrofoam cups.
In 1996, Correction Enterprises paint plant located at Johnston Correctional Center received recognition in the Governors Award for Excellence for reducing the number of steel drums used at the paint plant by using plastic liners instead of scrubbing out the barrels after each use. Drums are now reused 60 times instead of six and have saved the state $325,000 per year.
Southern Correctional Institution prisoners are turning donated scrap cloth into blankets for emergency shelters and schools.
Caswell Correctional Center inmates are now repairing pneumatic and electric hand tools that used to be discarded when they stopped working.
When done properly, prison landscaping protects the environment by reducing the amount of maintenance required.
About 200 million pieces of paper will be saved each year when Correction Enterprises duplicating plant begins sending print jobs digitally to state agencies, saving trees, money, time and waste. Last year, the department saved $7 million in printing costs.
New Hanover Correctional Center inmates separate organic from inorganic material at the local landfill.
"Doing things right by the environment means doing things right by the economy," Mills said. "You are leaders in state government in this field. The governor is looking for action, things that will really make a difference, not a thick book of accomplishments. Were about changing hearts and minds."
"If every other agency was doing what you are doing, it would be incredible," said Scott Mouw, an environmental expert at the Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources. "We ask a lot of stupid question to the line person, and we find thats where we get a lot of ideas. They know."
Phillips sees these sustainability efforts creating more jobs for inmates, thus closing the loop on Gov. Hunts first request to put every able-bodied inmate to work.
"Were open to any idea that will make sense in this state to help with the environment," Phillips said.
The department intends to build upon its current network of recycling coordinators and develop an agency-wide management structure for sustainability. This organizational initiative will seek the commitment of all employees to be innovative and provide a system of communicating strategies that improve sustainability. u
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