A total of 200 hungry bins and 12 vegetable gardens were installed at the Mt Eden Corrections Facility to compost organic waste on site, reduce waste to landfill and contribute to the facility's environmental outcomes.
The hungry bins process around 200kg of food scraps daily, and the fertiliser they produce is used to grow vegetables and herbs.
The project has led to clear environmental outcomes with half the number of skip bins sent to landfill. Prisoners using the system gain valuable skills and experience in waste separation and handling, composting and gardening.
The installation is the largest one of its kind in a prison in New Zealand and was a winner in the Environment Ministry's Green Ribbon Awards in 2014.
But it's not just about benefiting the environment. Prisoners are also learning valuable skills that will help them lead constructive lives once they leave, according to project leader John Moore.
"It teaches them a lot of life skills like time management. And they're learning to feed themselves if not their families. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that," he said.
They've been able to grow herbs, broccoli, salad vegetables and even chillies in the garden.
Using the outputs produced by the hungry bins to produce food ensures that the valuable nutrients contained in the food waste are not lost to the environment. Fresh greens are delivered to the kitchen, creating additional cost savings for the prison.
The 200-strong hungry bin installation was relocated to a high security men’s prison, at the Auckland South Corrections Facility at Wiri, when it opened. It's making a similar positive impact in terms of waste reduction, saving waste disposal charges and growing fresh produce. While also contributing to prisoners' life skills and the facility's long-term sustainability goals.
Hungry bins are also part of an ongoing project at Spring Hill Prison, south of Auckland, where hungry bins are used to process kitchen waste and generate fertilser for the prison's gardens.
Also published online here.