Making something useful out of discarded prison mattress, the Whitehall facility in the UK plans to have good use of taxpayer’s money by recycling these into carpet underlay, roof tiles and fence panels. This is according to this report from The Guardian:
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.”
The scheme is highlighted in a report looking at how Whitehall is handling innovation. It is seen as a good example — in contrast to suspicion and a lack of interest among many other civil servants to coming up with new ideas.
The report says altogether some £5.5bn has been put aside by Whitehall to experiment with new ideas — but the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, does not know how effective most of the new ideas are.
Another successful innovation has been made by the Environment Agency by introducing a new direct flood warning system which can tell users whether their house or business could be affected by rapidly rising water. The report says: “The new system works by linking a computerised map to a database of properties and registered user details. By drawing a polygon on the map, a flood warning can be created, and notification is automatically sent to registered users within the affected area via their preferred means.”
The department offered the information via telephone, fax, email or text message to a mobile phone. The results have been spectacular – with the 300,000 registered users able to get a flood warning within 11 rather than 56 minutes. Some 75% picked up the warning immediately – a big improvement on previous services. The scheme has now attracted the attention of the Met Office, which could also issue severe weather warnings using the same system.
The report comes at a time when the Treasury is about to impose severe limitations on Whitehall spending and ministries will be expected to come up with new ideas on how to save money and improve services.