Controller proposes composting program at Lehigh County Jail

Written by on December 22, 2021

Controller proposes composting program at Lehigh County Jail

By Tyler Pratt
December 22, 2021

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Lehigh County controller is proposing a composting program that he says could cut food waste at the county jail, save money and help reduce the Lehigh Valley’s carbon footprint.

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Controller Mark Pinsley says the Lehigh County Jail produces hundreds of thousands of pounds of food waste a year that breaks down into methane and can turn into harmful emissions.

“So right now what you do is throw it in the trash and it increases the volume and the weight of the waste that our waste department has to remove,” said Pinsley, who as controller is the county government’s spending watchdog.

He contends composting would be more environmentally friendly and cut some county waste fees by as much as $12,000 a year. The money could be reallocated into other programs such as providing job skills for the incarcerated, he said.

“So the first program would be composting in and of itself that we could train inmates on,” Pinsley said. “And because of the extra money we actually could reallocate that money towards yet another program help reduce recidivism.” 

The Philadelphia prison system implemented a similar program a few years ago.

A report by Pinsley found that food waste accounts for about 30 percent of a jail’s solid waste production. He said Lehigh County Jail produces an estimated 306,000 pounds of food waste per year.

Lehigh County Corrections Director Janine Donate said she has no comment on the composting plan.

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