Viridor Encourages Kids To “Pester” Parents Into Recycling

Viridor, one of the UK’s largest recycling and renewable energy companies, has invested in education centres with an aim of getting kids to “pester” their households into recycling more.

Viridor said its research (the 2016 Viridor Recycling Index) revealed that, while the public instinctively wanted to do the right thing – and put the right stuff in the right bin – 64% were confused about what could be recycled.

It agrees there is work to be done in terms of innovation from packing manufacturers and the recycling industry and notes the more than 400 different recycling systems across the UK continues to be a challenge, but maintains a great deal can be achieved through education and “pester power”.

Pester power involves inspiring children with the recycling and circular economy messages and then encouraging them to take this home with a pledge to change the behaviour of their household.

Viridor has invested in education centres staffed by officers tasked with sharing the recycling and renewable energy from waste message.

School pupils come to Viridor plants and learn about recycling, how that which can’t be recycled is transformed to create renewable energy but that much of what is recyclable finds its way into residual waste instead.

“The younger visitors to our centres love to feel empowered to become their parent’s teachers. They deeply care about nature and we like the fact that we can give the older secondary school students aspirations and insight into careers (in waste management) which changes lives.”

Denise Catley, Viridor’s Education Business Partner, said last year Viridor centres hosted 19,327 visitors, many of them children.

She said: “Our simple message to pupils is centred on reducing and re-using things first, then we move on to ‘right stuff, right bin’ for recycling and renewable energy recovery.

“We also introduce the concept of the circular economy and the fact that everything we throw away is made from our earth’s resources.”

Denise said visits led to pupils going home and teaching their family about recycling and in many cases pledging to change their behaviour.

She said some children really surprised the education officers with what they knew about what happened to waste but most impressive was how deeply they cared about the environment at such a young age.

She said: “I think all our education teams feel a great sense of satisfaction when children and teachers say that it is the best visit they have ever been on and when they go away wanting to change the world which they can in fact do.”

Viridor Education and Visitor Centre Officer Jessica Baker-Pike, based at the Ardley Energy Recovery Facility in Oxfordshire, said they had more than 1,000 students from key stage two, three and four at the site last year and engaged with another 350 off site.

Jessica explained that visits to the education centre fitted in with global citizenship classes, geography and science, technology and mathematics (STEM) classes.

What the pupils know about recycling varied but the education officers believe that, while lessons in recycling can start at any age, eight is considered a good age for children to absorb the message.

Jessica said: “There are always students that get it and you can see when they suddenly understand or when you’ve said something which really interests them.

“I know they are the householders of the future and that they do share information with their parents.

“The younger visitors to our centres love to feel empowered to become their parent’s teachers. They deeply care about nature and we like the fact that we can give the older secondary school students aspirations and insight into careers (in waste management) which changes lives.”

Pupils are encouraged to think about the message “right stuff, right bin”, ensure recyclable materials are clean and dry and that batteries are separated from all other material.

Jessica said: “We tell them that humans are the only organism to create waste and that we are all responsible for our resources, protecting nature and our environment.”


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