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Socially responsible and environmentally friendly investment in GE Prison – Bulgaria

In Sofia prison in Bulgaria’s capital a new green production facility is set up. The prisoners now get valuable training producing solar panel collectors and water heaters. IDN has been involved in sharing expertise on equipment and design of the production workshop as well as expertise on EU regulations regarding working conditions and environmental impact.
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In a renovated building in the yard of Sofia prison – the largest prison in Bulgaria, a new green production facility for production of solar panel collectors and water heaters opened recently with support from the Norway Grants green industry innovation programme. To date, more than 130 prisoners have been trained to produce solar panels and boilers for heat and hot water. The workshop is equipped with modern machinery following environmental requirements. The technological process is based on the principles of efficiency, recycling and almost no-waste production.

“The project is a good example for a green business model, where environmental practices will be incorporated across the value chain of the products,” said Norway’s ambassador to Bulgaria Guro Katharina Vikør after visiting the workshop recently.

The project is carried out by the state enterprise GE ‘Prisons Production’ in cooperation with International Development Norway AS. GE ‘Prisons Production’ is responsible for economic activities in places of detention in Bulgaria and placement on the market of the products produced in the prisons. IDN has been involved in sharing expertise on equipment and design of the production workshop as well as expertise on EU regulations regarding working conditions and environmental impact.

GE “Prison Production” is a public enterprise responsbile for economic activities of  Bulgarian places of detention and placement of their products on the market. Main activities include: development and improvement of manufacturing units (workshops) in places of detention and their equipment with security and technical facilities, construction, Prisoners are occupied in production activities in the following fields and respective workshops: Construction/Repairs/ Livestock and crop/Metallurgy/ Furniture manufacture/Clothing manufacture/Production of PVC window frames/ Woodworking/Ceramic manufacture/ Industrial services;

“The project results will not only have economic and environmental impact, but is also having a very important social impact. The prisoners will acquire new skills, which will give them a good advantage on the labor market after leaving the prison,” Vikør said.

To involve the prisoners even more, the renovation work of the building was done by the prisoners.

The project was funded by Green Industry Innovation Programme in Bulgaria and covered adaptation of the building and provided equipement in order to set up a new “green” workshop in place of detention in Sofia for production of solar panel collectors – black, selective and vacuum-tubular and water heaters for environmentally friendly manufacturing of heat power for heating and hot water.

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