Bags 4 Barks
Turning Waste into Cash
For GROC’s Favorite Charity
A Proposal by:
Shawn Weneta #1028210
Dustin Turner #1091591
Green Rock Correctional Center has been actively recycling its post consumer waste for over eighteen months. Currently included in the materials recycled are aluminum cans, no. 1 and no. 2 plastics, and paper. All subsequent waste is compacted and sent to a landfill at the expense of the Commonwealth. Among these materials being sent to the landfill are foil lined snack bags.
Terracycle is a recycling company that collects, processes, and up-cycles several previously “non-recyclables” into usable consumer products. Included in the many materials they collect are the foil snack bags that GROC currently sends to the dump. However, in addition to the environmentally responsible act of processing the waste, Terracycle will monetize these materials that previously cost the state to dispose of and disburse the money to a charity of your choosing. With the current relationship between GROC and Bandits Adoption and Rescue of K-9’s, we believe that the collection, processing, and monetization of inmate and staff waste, not included in GROC’s existing recycling contract, will not only reduce disposal costs to the VADOC but provide a significant cost offset to BARK’s.
According to Keefe Commissary, GROC offender population purchases between 15,000 and 18,000 small bags of Moon Lodge Chips per month. This does not include large foil lined popcorn bags, as well as other small foil lined snacks such as Doritos and Fritos. In addition, staff has several vending machines they may access throughout their shifts and visitation also produces a measurable amount of similar waste. Using baseline numbers and expecting a percentage of loss, conservatively GROC will capture over 15,000 bags monthly. According to Terracycle, approximately 83.2 small snack bags equal one pound of waste. This equates to over 180 pounds of trash GROC is paying to dispose of every month. Annually this amount exceeds 2,160 pounds of trash and associated expenses to GROC. That is over a ton each and every year. Terracycle allows GROC to take what is currently a liability and convert it into a sustainable resource that provides a perpetual revenue stream for a socially responsible cause. This not only eliminates the expense to GROC but provides badly needed funds for BARK’s.
How It Works
Participating in Terracycle’s program is free. There is no sign up or participation fees and shipping is paid by Terracycle. A program sponsor signs up for the “Snack Bag Brigade” program through TERRACYCLE.COM. This activates the Collection Location Account and allows the Administrator to view account stats, redeem points for cash to your charity, print shipping labels, and measure your environmental impact.
GROC currently has offenders in each pod who are responsible for processing and separating recyclables as part of their offender work assignment. There is no need to create new positions. Snack bags will simply be bagged separately from the unrecyclables that are currently being sent to the landfill. Snack bags do not have to be cleaned or handled in any special manner. It is expected that the majority of the consumable product will already be removed from the bag. Upon collection of the snack bags they will be stored until an amount greater than 40 pounds is accumulated, at which time the collection location administrator will logon to the Terracycle account, print a shipping label, box the collected bags, and schedule a UPS pick up of the package (approximately 3-4 times per month). Upon receipt by Terracycle, the bags are weighed to calculate an approximate sum of the bags. GROC’s collection location account is then credited with Terracycle Points. These points are redeemable at a rate of $0.01 per point. Each bag earns 2 Terracycle points, therefore, each bag collected has a cash value of $0.02. Using the baseline number of 15,000 bags per month, this amounts to a minimum of $3,600.00 annually going to benefit the BARK’s organization.
According to the president of BARK’s, Bob Tillack, with six dogs the BARK’s Behind Bars Program at GROC consumes roughly one 50 pound bag of dog food per week. At a cost of $25.00 per bag this amounts to $1,300.00 annually. Training treats amount to approximately an additional $400.00 per year, while waste bags, heartworm medicine, and other routine expenses sum up to $600.00 - $800.00 (per annum). These expenses will be more than offset by funds earned through Terracycle. This not only allows the GROC BARK’s program to be a fully self-sustaining program, but in Mr. Tillack’s words will “…make a substantial impact on BARK’s” and allow them to allocate those resources to other areas that are desperately needed.
Another area of consideration is the amount VADOC is disbursing to a waste management company to haul and dispose of these bags. Even at commercial rates the disposal of over a ton of waste must have a significant cost associated with it. When this expense is combined with the monies paid to BARK’s we believe the total benefits will exceed $4,000.00 annually.
GROC commenced operations in 2007. To date this period equates to more than 20,000 pounds of just snack bag waste deposited into landfills. This has not only resulted in a calculable financial loss to the Commonwealth, but an intangible and sustained negative environmental impact. Adopting the practices outlined above will have many positive results. GROC will achieve a marked reduction in its carbon footprint as well as diminishing the amount of toxins that may leach into local groundwater. Implementing these practices is a morally, environmentally, socially, and fiscally responsible initiative with far reaching effects. In addition to the obvious financial benefits to both the Commonwealth and the selected charity, Bags 4 Bark’s is an innovative and inventive initiative and is simply the right thing to do.