Learning about waste

The council’s partnership with Viridor means that more of us are getting educated about where our waste goes – and there’s good news for local organisations too

Viridor, one of the country’s leading recycling and energy recovery companies, operates the Peterborough’s Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) on behalf of the City Council. The ERF processes 85,000 tonnes of waste every year, diverting it from landfill and saving council taxpayers £1million a year. By burning the waste, the ERF generates 7.5MW of electricity, enough to power 16,000 homes.

Visitor Centre
The ERF also has a Visitor Centre where school groups can learn more about recycling and the journey of Peterborough’s waste. After a presentation classes split into groups to undertake interactive activities, including a visit to the control room to see the bunker, capable of holding up to 3,000 tonnes of waste and where they can see the two huge cranes at work. During their visit to the control room students discover where the waste goes after it’s tipped into the bunker, the calorific value of waste and why we encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle. Visits are run in partnership with the council and Amey, so students get a thorough understanding of both recycling and energy recovery from residual waste.

Craig Petrie, Assistant Principal for Assessment at Fulbridge Academy, says: ‘A visit to the Energy Recovery Facility is not only engaging and enjoyable, it is extremely informative, giving children the opportunity to learn more about something we all take for granted. For a learning experience that is close to home and includes an informative message and giant crane, the ERF centre is a must.’ Natasha Prior, who organises educational visits at the ERF, explains why a visit is so rewarding: ‘Everyone learns something during the visit and seems keen to take the new information home and spread the word about the waste hierarchy and the journey of waste in Peterborough. Science, technology and engineering are also discussed during the visits and I am sure that some of the students who have visited will one day take advantage of our apprenticeship opportunities and join the team here!’

Public open days
The site will be involved in September’s Heritage Open Days. This is an opportunity for interested members of the public to come along and visit too. Visits will begin in the Visitor Centre before heading into the Control Room then out into the plant to follow the journey of our waste, stopping at key steps of the process to learn more about the technology and what’s going on behind the insulation and pipework.

Viridor in Peterborough
The ‘Viridor in Peterborough’ community fund comprises an annual contribution of £20,000 made by Viridor and will be topped-up with one pound for every tonne of waste brought to the ERF from commercial businesses for the next 30 years of the partnership. Any community led organisation in Peterborough is eligible to apply for funding and there is an easy-to-follow application guide online. Organisations such as The Peterborough and District Talking Newspaper for the Blind have already benefited from the fund. Funding of projects is awarded on a set of criteria based around sustainability, local need, community involvement, value for money and education. Other organisations are encouraged to come forward and make bids to the fund.

● Learn more about the fund, eligibility criteria and how to apply for a grant at:


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