UNICOR is the trade name for Federal Prison Industries, Inc. A component of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, UNICOR provides job skills training and work experience to Federal inmates. Established in 1934, UNICOR is designed so that it does not significantly interfere with private-industry. Products manufactured by UNICOR may only be sold to Federal Government agencies. Services provided by UNICOR (such as electronics recycling) may be offered to both Federal and non-Federal customers.
UNICOR’s authorizing statute requires that it operate in a self-sustaining manner, without any appropriated funds from Congress. This means that no tax dollars are used for the UNICOR program. Rather, UNICOR’s funding comes from the revenue generated by the products and services offered by UNICOR.
UNICOR operates five separate business groups (Clothing/Textiles, Electronics, Office Furniture, Recycling, and Services) which combine to provide more than 100 different products and services, employing more than 13,000 inmates. The UNICOR program has a positive impact on recidivism; inmates in UNICOR are 24% less likely to recidivate than similar inmates without UNICOR experience. Further, UNICOR inmates are 14% more likely to find and maintain employment than non-UNICOR inmates. Inmates working in UNICOR contribute a portion of their earnings toward meeting their financial obligations (such as court-ordered fines, child support, and/or victim restitution), as well providing earnings toward family support.
UNICOR & the Environment
In 2008, UNICOR embarked on a corporate-wide campaign to become a leader in eco-sensitive practices, and to set the standard for Government. UNICOR adopted Lean Six Sigma (LSS) as its standard methodology for process improvement. Green thinking and practices are ingrained at UNICOR, with its stated goal of respecting the environment in all of its business practices, from suppliers and the raw materials purchased, to production facilities, manufacturing processes, packaging, distribution and its end products.
UNICOR’s Recycling Group offers electronics recycling services. Each of UNICOR’s seven (7) electronics recycling facilities operate in full compliance with all applicable OSHA standards, and each institution is staffed with a full-time Safety Manager. All seven UNICOR Recycling facilities are certified to the Responsible Recycling Practices for Electronics Recyclers (R2:2013) standard, as well as to the ISO-9001 (Quality); ISO-14001 (Environmental Management), and OHSAS-18001 (Occupational Safety & Health) standards.
In FY 2013, UNICOR recycled more than 39 million pounds of electronic waste. The UNICOR recycling process for incoming “e-waste” material includes: sorting, testing, reconditioning / refurbishing, component recovery, and residual material recovery. UNICOR accepts all manner of electronics for recycling from any source (public, private, or individual) within the United States.
Involvement with NERC
UNICOR became a NERC Advisory Member in 2006. According to Todd Baldau, Deputy General Manager for UNICOR’s Recycling Business Group, “refurbishment, re-manufacturing, and recycling operations are central to UNICOR’s core production and service provisions, from textile repair to electronics reuse and recycling. UNICOR's unique, full service recycling program is an integrated part of a national e-scrap solution. Our membership in NERC helps us play an important role in advancing sustainable materials management.”