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This is not just another recycling program. Combining prisons with landfills, EVERYTHING is sorted. Possibly emptying old landfills too.



All human waste has value. There is no such thing as garbage. Time has already been invested in purifying all produced materials. You cannot tell me that it is easier to scrape materials out of the ground and then puryify them to create the products we need than it is to reuse those refined products where we have already invested the time and materials to produced them. The failure is that the mechanism to sue them is missing.

I propose combining prisons with sorting facilities and have our "waste" materials sorted by prisoners. Many things are accomplished. Economically: resources are generated, necessary activities (prison and waste management) are combined and human activities are more efficient. Psychologically: break the law go to the dump- actually go to work for humanity (sounds more productive and positive). Practical: everything is sorted- more prisoners can more efficiently sort more materials to finer degree. Sorted materials are not garbage but become useable resources. Location: The location of both prisons and dumps are difficult issues for society to resolve, this does not solve the issue but it does simplify some of the challenges. Environmentally: everything is sorted so nothing will be put into the dump that should not be there. Ultimately, only organics would fall off the end of thee conveyor belt possibly to beused for compost. Piles of purely sorted materials become entrepeneurial wonderlands.

Category of the action

Reducing emissions from waste management

What actions do you propose?

To initiate the concept it would probably be feasible to conduct a series of pilot programs using existing prison facilities and low security prisoner teams. These tests could be used to understand unforeseeable conceptual limitations that could then be incorporated into the contstruction of a more permanent facilty.

In the test programs a facility is constructed near an existing prison. The facilty consists of a dump dock where the waste management trucks dump materials into staging area that eventually forwards it to a hopper that allows household material to flow onto a conveyor belt. Once on the conveyor belt, this primary material moves past teams of trained low security prisoners macro-select materials to be secondarily sorted. For example a cardboard team selects all materials that are predominantly cardboard but because many materials are mixed like a macaroni box can have a plastic window which needs to be removed. Sounds tedious and it is but that is what their job is. Once the cardboard team removes something undesireable it goes into a holding bin that recirculates back through the primary conveyor belt where the plastics specialists ultimately find it. The conveyor belt loops like the airport belts so the materials pass by the teams until it is selected. 

The materials in the staging area can be shaken apart before entering the hopper or a special conveyor team opens and separates the material immediately after exiting the hopper. Unseparated material will loop back so that it can be further managed and be presented to specialty sorting crews.  

Electronics can be fully dissasembled and sorted.All hazardous materials are effectively managed. No heavy metals or other hazardous materials become groundwater leachates.

The need for extensive highly regulated landfills is dramatically reduced.

More materials now requiring distribution to various housing facilities can now be sent to one location (or several depending on the size of the city). For example in my town electronics, garbage and yard wastes, and recyclables are managed differently.

It could also be possible to mine existing dumps to gain from those materials and have those sites that are now causing environmental problems brought under control.

Of course there are social issues to overcome like ensuring prisoner safety and prison security but that is true of existing prison systems.

There would also need to be a citizen education program to avoid unnecessarily exposing personal issues to prisoners. Everything is going to be viewed so nothing that reveals personal information should be submitted for sorting. This is already true anyway but it will become more obvious with a program like this.

A program like this will be socially revealing on many levels. And can also be used to conduct an amazing array of human studies on social reality where we undoubtedly uncover more about who we are. It may help us to uncover more layers of human needs. 



Who will take these actions?

Depending on the size and locations of the communities to be served, this kind of operation would likely require coordination between Federal, State, County and local Municipalities.

Pilot programs can be held at existing prison facilities to help to identify concept implementation wrinkles and assist with planning and design of future facilities.


Where will these actions be taken?

The primarytarget is municipal waste management facilities.

Not having consulted with prison or municipal waste management specialists, it is difficult to predict how implementation would best be initiated. I could envision that either linking a start up/pilot program to existing landfills and/or prisons would make the best sense.Ultimately after the concept is tested, new specially designed facilities that meet all needs would be constructed.  


What are other key benefits?

Combining dump and prison facilities.

Psychological- break the law, go to the dump.

Human service recycled materials.

Recycling efficiency.

It is likely to produce almost no waste.

Financial gain.

Reduced carbon emmisions.

Removal of environmentally harmful materials such as heavy metals and biohazards.

There is a dimension of human social science that will have immeasurable value to understanding human behavior. I could foresee a learning curve that such studies reveal that could include from comprehending the quatities of the sheer magnitude of waste products, understanding product-life and when focusing on specific topics like child-care investment, the usefulness of information to be gained from such studies is unimaginable. Everything will be sorted so nothing will go unseen.


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

Unsure but this can be calculated/estimated.

The reuse of materials that are already purified is energy saved from being wasted and from the need to invest in the production of more from raw materials. 

It does take energy to recycle but it should not take more to recycle a purified substance than it does to extract it and process it until it is pure.

If nothing else, it will not take long for someone to figure out how to use piles of cleaned materials. And to be able to reliably predict the quantities produced will affect businesses who begin to utilize such resources.

Such a process may affect packaging design.

Such a process will likely affect transportation systems.

What are the proposal’s costs?

This would depend on the location. A prison facility serving a smaller region would require less investment than a huge metropolis. Efficiencies could be gained by initiating such a project near existing prisons or landfills. 

There would be costs affiliated with planning, construction, and transportation but (all things being equal) costs are offset by those currently being accrued through prison planning and construction that are required anyway, as well as for landfill planning, land purchases /landfill constructionand management, and there should be costs recouped through sale of sorted materials.

Also, it may be prudent to review the history of landfill costs affiliated with health risks and environmental remediation (eg. groundwater contamination). These costs should be subtracted from the total.


Time line

I could imagine that small-scale pilot programs could be installed near existing prisons using existing facilities for storing sorted materials within a 5-year period.

The intent of these pilot programs is to assess feasibility and ensure the investment in future designs are able to comprehend the implementation of full program.

If started today, it is optimistically predicted that fully operating systems could be 10 years or more in the making. 

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