Ozark Correctional Center receives recycling award from Missouri Recycling Association

image of a staff member placing things in recycling dumpster

The Ozark Correctional Center (OCC) was recently recognized for “Outstanding Leadership in Organics Recycling” by the Missouri Recycling Association (MORA). OCC manages a large scale recycling center in support of 674 offenders and 230 staff since 2004. OCC diverts and recycles nearly 85 percent of its waste and scraps, saving the facility nearly $10,000 each year on landfill hauling costs. In a press release, MORA President Dan Imig said, “Ozark Correctional Centers’ efforts have paid off in a big way, both to the facility and the environment, as they divert thousands of pounds of food waste, creating a valuable soil amendment which is used as compost at OCC’s gardens. In turn, the garden produced nearly 2.5 tons of food that was donated to local food pantries.”

The annual amounts of material recycled by OCC include:

image of a staff member sorting trash

Equipment utilized to process this material includes an in-vessel composting machine capable of handling 1,000 pounds of organics, a vertical baler, and a skid loader. Housing units and offices are supplied with containers for the collection and transport of waste material to the recycling center. Offender workers sort and separate all items to be recycled or disposed of as trash.

Prior to the development of OCC’s recycling center, a 30-cubic yard trash dumpster was hauled to the landfill every 12-14 days. As the recycling center and collection systems evolved, the trash dumpster is now collected once every 54 days, saving OCC nearly $10,000 a year in landfill hauling fees.

OCC has also made an effort to reduce waste at the source. One way this was accomplished was by conducting a “meal audit.” For six months, OCC tracked and measured the amount of food cooked, number of inmates, and amount of food leftover. The audit results helped staff to more accurately estimate the amount of food needed and resulted in less food waste being generated.

The revenue generated from the sale of recyclable materials is deposited into the state recycling fund. This fund is dedicated to recycling related expenses and supports OCC’s recycling programs.

Compost produced by OCC is traded to MoDOT for their wood chips to use in the compost machine and on the institutional grounds and garden. In 2013, OCC’s garden produced 4,676 pounds of produce which has been donated to food pantries in Seymour and Marshfield Missouri.