Image credit: From the classic BBC prison sitcom Porridge
Government Recycling Gives Prison Mattresses New Life
We've seen London Underground fabric being recycled into shoes, and prison blankets becoming sneakers - but now here's another example of well worn materials of, errm, less than salubrious provenance being put to good use. And for once, you won't even have to wear the stuff!According to The Guardian, the UK government's efforts to support innovation have given birth to a new scheme to recycle the incredible amount of prison mattresses that are discarded each year. The end products they are being turned into probably says as much about the comfort of prison mattresses as it does about the government's sustainability efforts:
The 82,000 convicts in England and Wales get through a surprising 50,000 mattresses a year and the expanding prison population means the Prison Service is having to order 60,000 new mattresses a year costing £2m. Now the country's jails are going into the mattress recycling business in a big way – by signing contracts with companies to convert them into new products. Whitehall estimates that at present the equivalent of 30 double decker loads of mattresses leave the prison for refuse every year. Under the new programme the aim is to reduce this to zero.
So far, two companies are running trials to convert old, stained and lumpy mattresses into carpet underlay, roof tiles and fence panels. The report says: "The trial is looking at how well the solutions meet the requirements from a usability and sustainability perspective, as well as the logistics of getting the mattresses in and out of prisons. Whichever solution is finally chosen, it is expected to reduce the requirement for landfill to virtually nil."
Sadly, the article is short on the details of how a mattress becomes a fence panel or a roofing tile. Not having had the first hand experience, I'm presuming that prison mattresses are made up of some kind of plastic which would presumably be weather proof. Any commenters out there who's care to confirm that? (No need to tell us how you came about your knowledge...)