Washington State’s McNeil Island prison has adopted environmentally friendly practices that are saving taxpayers money, reports the Tacoma News Tribune. The facility has slowed its passenger ferries, cut back on the number of trips ferries and barges make, started collecting food waste for composting in addition to other recycling, and been retrofitted with more energy-efficient light fixtures and heating systems. The facility also has switched to less toxic cleaning products, and plans to recycle inmates' shoes. Prisoners even pick up and process recycling for 40 families that live on the island.
The changes save taxpayers more than $630,000 a year. Corrections officials across the U.S. “have really been looking at what we're doing,” said a prison system spokesman. Over a year, it's estimated that the recycling program will reduce the trash produced on the island by about 25 percent and save another $7,000. The prison has undertaken a $1.5 million project to retrofit its light fixtures and heating systems so they're more energy-efficient. Together they'll save $300,000 in electricity and heating oil costs per year, a savings that will put the project in the black in less than five years.