environmental resource centres

Landfill Site Environmental Resource Centres

Children (and Adults!) benefit from visits to landfill site environmental resource centres, where facilities are provided free of charge for school groups and members of the public to learn about the environment of landfills, and what happens to their waste.

environmental resource centres

Landfills traditionally have a reputation as unpleasant places, but many modern landfills are throwing off that image and building Landfill Site Environmental Resource Centres, for school, and pre-school, children to learn about sustainable principles of waste management. Both teachers and children that have dropped in for a tour have enjoyed the visit and found the subject a real “eye-opener” about what happens to their municipal solid waste.

High Standards of Environmental Protection are Applied to All Permitted UK Landfills

Francis Cooke Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre
A public viewing of landfill operations in progress at the Francis Cooke Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre, Alberta, Canada. CC BY-NC-ND by G A R N E T

Landfills nowadays are built to high standards to control odours, flies, leachate (the contaminated water that runs off from landfill sites) and landfill gas which, where possible, is used as an on-site energy source. These places have changed. The litter has gone, and in the place, there are green planting and flowers. One landfill even has its own plant nursery to grow the local plants for restocking the finished area so that the very same plants can be put back afterwards. So what has happened?

Well, the owners have taken on-board the need for improved environmental performance, and they have now realised that if they want another landfill when this one is full they will have to be a good neighbour. So, the best of them have taken the idea of good neighbourliness a bit further and added a training and educational resource centre to their site (Landfill Site Environmental Resource Centres), for children and students.

For a full picture of the driving force behind these centres watch our own video below, which explains what these centres do:

You can watch a full-screen version of this on the YouTube website “What is an Environmental Resource Centre?” here.

Student's of all Ages Learn About Waste Management at Landfill Site Environmental Resource Centres

The result is visitors from the student population spanning all ages. All that show an interest are welcome at Landfill Site Environmental Resource Centres, and the landfill staff can now hold pride in their company for the “green” education they provide. The effect of education proving is infectious and brings out the best in all. The pupils, in turn, are told of the huge quantities of waste which must be handled and the vast investment needed on a continuous basis unless they will themselves take some responsibility for reducing the waste they produce.

Many Visitors Leave Saying “It's an Eye Opener. I Had No Idea of the Amazing Work Done Here, Right at the Bottom of My Back-Yard”

Each visitor can hardly fail to leave without a much deeper understanding of the problems faced by landfill operators to prevent nuisance and environmental damage. It is not easy and the new measures do cost a lot of money. It is a fact that student questionnaires show that these mini-courses and projects at the landfill sites are extremely well received by the visitors, and in interacting with the media provided they rapidly develop a much better understanding of the need for waste reduction minimisation, recycling, and reprocessing.

In addition to the ordinary people members of the public who visit the many landfill site environmental resource centres, they are also popular with politicians and experts. Those “interested parties” who attend these centres may also offer special presentations to local residents on particular nature and conservation topics of interest.

It always delights the landfill resource centre staff when experts from other nations are obviously impressed by the techniques our operators use to collect and treat the leachate and to extract and harness the landfill gas to produce green renewable energy.

Centres Provide the Interactive Hands-on Learning which Children Love

One aspect is the educational benefit for kids as they do learn so well by using the interactive, hands-on learning materials provided at these centres. It has often been said that the subject of waste management is a particularly easy subject to engage children’s involvement in. For a start, there is never any shortage of materials – recycled of course – freely available at these centres for the children to use in their projects in imaginative ways.

While the work goes on in plain-view around viewing areas close to the educational centre on each landfill site, the visitors can observe site practise from a safe distance.

Transparency of Landfill Site Operations Helps to Build Trust With Local Residents

This transparency helps give the neighbourhood the reassurance that any lapses in the environmental protection provided by the operator would be soon be seen by the visitors.

If standards dropped in no time at all site operational failings which resulted in bad-neighbour problems would be noticed. The cause a local environmental problem, or an inconvenience to complain about, would then be resolved by the landfill operator without any doubt.

So, the new breed of landfill site visitor centre (Landfill Site Environmental Resource Centre), usually funded by a combination of the site owner and charities, and they are fast becoming a great, but not unanticipated, success story.

This article was first published in August 2014.

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