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Theo Lacy's Sustainability Program Wins NACO Award

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) is proud to announce that the National Associations of Counties (NACO) has awarded Theo Lacy’s Sustainability Program a 2014 Achievement Award in the category of Environmental Protection and Energy.

The program began when Commander Toni Bland set out to meet sustainability standards set forth by AB 341, a new law that requires businesses and public entities to reduce solid waste through source reduction, recycling, or composting. Commander Bland created a Sustainability Unit, selecting Deputies Bill Wagner and Jim Hamill for the team. The goal of the program was to reduce waste and create cost savings for the facility.

Deputies Wagner and Hamill began by utilizing inmate work crews to remove 20 tons of cardboard from the compactor and transfer it to a local recycling center.  This alone was able to reduce the weight of general waste by 20%, decreasing the cost of the trash hauler from $16,300 to $12,300. Additionally the recycled cardboard brought in revenue of $2,800, reducing the net cost for trash hauling by 40%.

After seeing how successful the program was, Deputies Wagner and Hamill took it to the next level by training a group of inmate workers to recycle paper, polystyrene, metal food cans, and food waste.  They also contacted Orange County Waste and Recycling to create a new practice for disposing of hazardous materials, such as oil, paint and light bulbs, and began recycling inmate clothing by repairing ripped or torn clothes or using old jumpsuits to make vests for the community work program. 

Even more innovative, the team has begun the “Jails to Tails” program where they repurposed old sheets or clothes into dog beds and donated them to Orange County Animal Care. They are also now working with the Health Care Agency to establish a food donation program where a “food audit” will be conducted to determine the amount of unconsumed food waste Theo Lacy produces and which types of food could be donated to food banks.

The Theo Lacy Facility’s Sustainability Program has not only provided cost savings to the County, but also has brought positive recognition to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for its innovative ways to increase recycling and give back to the community.  Congratulations to the whole Sustainability Program Team!

Photo courtesy of the Orange County Register.