Recycling behind bars

Nick Watts discovers how HMP Huntercombe is setting a positive example when it comes to managing food waste at the same time as saving money and having a positive effect on the rehabilitation of prisoners

This article was taken from Issue 81

Educating an ever-changing population, who speak 37 different languages and for the most part have no prior knowledge of recycling, has been understandably challenging at times. This is what arguably makes the results of the prison’s scheme so impressive. Since December 2014, unprocessed food waste has been reduced from 2.4 tonnes to just one, and cooked food waste has been reduced from over four tonnes to just 0.7. As a whole, the prison now recycles 98 per cent of all of its food waste. 

HMP Huntercombe has achieved this by utilising two complementary composting methods: a Big Hanna T75 in-vessel composter (IVC), and the prison’s very own wormery. Bryant explains: “All the uncooked, unprocessed food from the kitchen is processed by the worms, which is a natural process. The other process involves putting the food waste into a dewatering system which dehydrates the food, after which it’s weighed and placed in ‘Hanna’, our composter. You put it in one end, adding compressed wood pellets to reduce any residual moisture, then compost comes out the other end eight weeks later.”