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  4. Illinois Correctional Industries continues with extensive recycling efforts at Illinois State Fair

Illinois Correctional Industries continues with extensive recycling efforts at Illinois State Fair 

Illinois Correctional Industries continues with extensive recycling efforts at Illinois State Fair


SPRINGFIELD – August 8, 2014 - Illinois Correctional Industries (ICI) has created a comprehensive recycling program for the 2014 State Fair. ICI has provided the fairgrounds with 200 trash/recycling containers, up from 110 a year ago, which were fabricated by inmate workers out of recycled 55-gallon plastic drums. Plastic, paper, aluminum and other recyclable materials will be collected twice daily, diverting tons of waste from Illinois landfills. The recycling of paper was added this year to ICI’s work at the Fair.

Once collected from the fairgrounds, the recyclable materials will be categorized, sorted and baled by ICI trainees at Logan Correctional Center. Proceeds from the sale of the baled aluminum cans will be sent to the Combined Veteran’s Association. Other recycling efforts will include collection and recycling of waste vegetable oil and the use of the manure in the prison gardens.

In addition to recycling opportunities, fairgoers can also enjoy the 125,000 flowers of more than 70 different varieties throughout that are featured in flowerbeds and hanging baskets. Ninety-five percent of the flowers were grown by Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) trainees at Lincoln Correctional Center.

“The work of ICI at the Illinois State Fair and, every week of every year, many other locations around the state demonstrates the commitment of the Illinois Department of Corrections to helping the environment through recycling and self-sustainability,” said IDOC Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez. “We are proud to serve and take the lead as an agency on Governor Quinn’s Green Government Coordinating Council.”

Chief Executive Officer of ICI Jen Aholt said, “I believe that whenever you can implement a recycling program that reduces the amount of waste introduced to landfill, thus minimizing landfill dumping fees, and provide inmates with valuable job skills, you create a winning trifecta of sound public policy. We’re happy to say this is just one of many success stories and we thank the Illinois State Fair and all our partners.”

ICI operates a number of recycling programs in correctional centers across the state. In 2013, ICI trainees at Logan Correctional Center processed five tons of aluminum, 4.5 tons of cardboard and 12 tons of waste vegetable oil from the fair’s many food vendors. Menard Correctional Center, home of ICI’s largest recycling operation, processed more than 2.2 million pounds of recyclable material last year alone.

ICI is a division of IDOC which provides inmates with job skills and training to increase opportunities for employment and successful reentry into communities upon release. ICI currently has programs operating in 18 facilities; those programs produce products and provide services. A partial list of goods includes food, milk and juice, clothing, office furniture, eyeglasses, mattresses and pillows. ICI is a self-sustaining program; revenue generated from the sale of its products fully funds its entire operation.

Illinois taxpayers benefit significantly from the use ICI goods by IDOC and other state agencies. All inmate clothing is manufactured by ICI and more than half the food consumed by inmates and staff is processed, packaged and shipped by ICI. Importantly, ICI inmates are trained and supervised by IDOC staff, including vocational instructors and correctional officers. The cost of instructors, superintendents, supervisors, account technicians and others is paid entirely by ICI, in keeping with its legislative mandates of self-sustainment and helping inmates successfully reenter society.

Among the services provided by ICI is Helping Paws, which offers (at no charge) mobility-trained service dogs to people with special needs. Through a partnership with the MidAmerica Service Dogs’ Foundation, ICI inmates train dogs rescued from local pounds to provide independent living for the future owners. At the same time, inmates gain confidence and a sense of purpose to carry with them after prison.

State Fair Recycling Statistics 

  • ICI will participate in the recycling of more than 30 tons of cardboard, paper, plastic, aluminum and cooking oil. Some manure will go to prison gardens.
  • In 2013, the State Fair recycled 5 tons of aluminum, 4.5 tons of cardboard and 12 tons of waste vegetable oil.
  • More than 40 inmates will be working to process the recyclables from both Illinois state fairs.