SGA is providing consulting services for a compost pilot program at the Lake County Adult Corrections Facility. This is part of a larger sustainability project — spearheaded by Quercus Consulting — for Illinois’ northeasternmost county: Lake County. 

The project’s main goal is to develop environmentally and economically sound practices for jail operations while engaging inmates directly with responsibility for these activities. It also aims to educate decision-makers on the benefits of composting and food recovery, as well as recycling.

As an initial step, SGA met with jail, County, and Aramark kitchen staff to develop a thorough understanding of the existing food service and waste management systems. This involved several walk throughs and a building analysis, plus a review of hauler contract and invoices. With the help of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO), jail staff and inmates, SGA conducted a waste audit over a 24-hour period in mid-March to determine how much waste is generated on average per day. The audit analyzed both inmate- and kitchen-generated waste from food prep to clean up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Pete Adrian from SWALCO and Lake Co. inmates in temporary kitchen after the dinner audit

The results showed that approximately 80% of the total waste stream was food waste and six percent was recyclable materials. Currently, all waste goes to the building’s compactor, which results in higher costs for frequent pick-ups and more volume entering landfills.

The program has not launched yet due to construction in the kitchen, but the jail, County, and kitchen staff are enthusiastic about implementing the program as soon as possible. In addition to diverting food waste, other strategies are being explored to reduce the use of disposable utensils and divert textiles for reuse projects.

Expect more more updates as this project moves forward.