Iowa Prison Industries Mitchellville Expands Green Operations

By Mike Spooner, Industries Supervisor, Iowa Prison Industries and
Shawn Preston, Plant Manager, Iowa Prison Industries

The Mitchellville branch of Iowa Prison Industries (IPI) has long endeavored to promote green programs and practices. Some level of green practice is used in every area of Mitchellville IPI, which includes Panels & Seating, Plastics, Textiles, and Housekeeping/Chemicals Divisions. From recycling to green production, Mitchellville
IPI strives to “Go Green” at every opportunity.

Mitchellville Panels uses recycled panel cores, support arms, draw rods, hanger frames,
tackboards, tackboard clips, and hardware in its daily production. All standard-sized finished goods panels are produced with recycled cores, and all finished goods panels feature recycled hanger frames and hardware. Mitchellville Panels also refurbishes and sells used lateral files, pencil drawers, and shelves. In addition, most of the newer panel fabrics marketed by IPI Panels Division are made from recycled materials, adding
a second green layer to recycled products.

While Mitchellville Seating does not yet have the opportunity to use recycled components, it promotes reupholstery as the green alternative to buying new. In Fiscal Year 2010, Mitchellville Seating reupholstered a total of 3,474 pieces, which accounted for 44% of total pieces sold and 15.3% of total sales in Fiscal Year 2010. In Fiscal Year 2011, reupholstered pieces totaled 755, accounting for 10.6% of chairs sold and 5.5%
of total Seating sales.

Iowa Prison IndustriesMitchellville Plastics recycles pallets and cardboard for the entire Mitchellville plant. In 2010, Mitchellville Plastics recycled a total of 2,182 wooden pallets and 44 tons of paper. IPI estimates that this is the equivalent to saving 754 trees from being cut down. In 2011, Mitchellville Plastics recycled 1,926 pallets, 58 tons of paper, and 54 fiber tons, which IPI estimates as the equivalent to preserving 203 cubic yards of landfill space. In addition, all of the bags and boxes from Mitchellville Plastics feature a minimum of 30% recycled material. Also, since May 2008, Mitchellville Plastics has produced and sold five sizes of 100% Biodegradable bags. Over the past twelve months 100% Biodegradable bags accounted for 8.5% of cases produced and 15.7% of total Mitchellville Plastics sales. Biodegradable raw material usage for Mitchellville Plastics totaled 2,488,828 ft. over this same time period, accounting for 13.2% of raw material usage.

Like Mitchellville Seating, Mitchellville Textiles does not yet have the opportunity to use
recycled or green raw materials. Despite this, the Mitchellville Textiles has actively sought
opportunities to reduce its carbon footprint. Mitchellville Textiles recycles all of its bobbin
casings and has sold accumulated scrap denim for use as building insulation. This is a prime example of IPI sta…ff seeking an opportunity to recycle waste material that would otherwise end up in a landfill. An IPI Industries Technician researched this opportunity and is looking for a similar program for recycling waste fleece.

While these Mitchellville plants are all making a notable green contribution, the flagship of IPI Mitchellville’s green operations is Mitchellville Housekeeping/Chemicals which features a total of fifty-nine 100% organic, biodegradable, non-toxic, recycled, and Green Seal Certified products, accounting for 44.4% of all products and 23.3% of all sales over the last twelve months. This percentage will increase as the State of Iowa moves into compliance with the Iowa Legislature’s state-wide Green Mandate. IPI Mitchellville is excited about the new green opportunities this piece of legislation has brought to the plant.

“IPI estimates that this is the equivalent to saving 754 trees…”

As soon as the Iowa Green Mandate was passed, Mitchellville Housekeeping/Chemicals began working to stay one step ahead of the process. Early on in the Green conversion process, Mitchellville Housekeeping/Chemicals developed a “Green Transition Survey” to assist our sales force in helping customers “Go Green.” The survey helps our sales force, our plant, and our customers identify their Green purchasing needs.

As the July 1, 2012 deadline for Iowa’s Green Mandate nears, Mitchellville Housekeeping/
Chemicals Division has supported this initiative by taking steps to transition to more
environmentally-friendly product offerings and production. In March 2009, we began the
process of transitioning one of our major state universities to 100% Biodegradable cleaning products. This enormous undertaking involved Mitchellville Housekeeping/Chemicals, one of our major chemical vendors, and 16 university
custodial teams. By May 2010, Mitchellville Chemicals/Housekeeping and the university
converted approximately 92 buildings with 6.5 million total square feet to 100% green cleaning. The new green cleaning system in use at the university is comprised of just four cleaning products that use a single dispenser.

In 2010, Mitchellville Housekeeping/Chemicals, with the assistance of a second vendor, developed a comprehensive All-Facility 100% Green Seal Certified cleaning system. This system consists of only two products and a single dispenser. It also includes a training program and “cart cards” for handy reference by custodial staff. In addition, Mitchellville/Housekeeping has introduced a complete line of Green floor care products that are as cost-effective and strong as our conventional floor products.

Going one step further in the Green conversion process, Mitchellville Housekeeping/Chemicals is currently working to expand our department to achieve on-site Green Seal production certifi cation. We have already moved equipment and added a brand-new drainage system to accommodate additional equipment, and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new Green mixer and bottler. Although this transition has already involved a tremendous amount of labor, we at Mitchellville Housekeeping/Chemicals are dedicated to the process of becoming a greater part of the world-wide movement toward greater environmental responsibility.

Rain Barrel

In their e…fforts to “Go Green,” creativity counts! Iowa Prison Industries sta…ff saw that empty Housekeeping/Chemical drums could be recycled as rain barrels and went to work. The result: Less waste and even a small profit.