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REMONDIS Australia // 30 August 2022
Our REdiscovery Hub has welcomed 1,000 visitors and expects to host 2,000 visitors by the end of the year
While the REdiscovery Hub is open to the community in general, the biggest take-up has been from primary and secondary schools across South East Queensland
The REdiscovery Hub’s interactive classes are delivered by independent professional educators, EnviroCom
Reading, writing and arithmetic might be schooling staples, but who‘d have thought two more ‘R’s – rubbish and recycling – might give the traditional ones a run for their money?
A 2021 idea to set up an education centre at our Swanbank Renewable Energy & Waste Management Facility in South East Queensland moved rapidly from dream to reality, with the aptly named ‘REdisovery Hub’ hosting 1,000 visitors since opening in October 2021 and filling out bookings for the foreseeable future.
While the REdiscovery Hub is open to the community in general, the biggest take-up has been from primary and secondary schools in Ipswich and neighbouring regions. School groups – with kids aged from 6 to 16 – arrive at the REdiscovery Hub for a bus tour of the active landfill facility plus interactive, Australian National Curriculum-aligned, age-appropriate classes held in the Hub’s indoor/outdoor classroom.
“Waste management is not only a great unknown for most people, but it’s also one of the most important environmental issues facing Australia and countries around the world,’’ REMONDIS Australia Environmental Manager Amrish Trivedi said.
“Most people forget about waste once their bins at home or work have been collected, and they don‘t stop to think that it has to end up somewhere. That’s a particular problem in Australia, which is the second highest producer of waste per capita in the world.“
“There’s an onus on experienced international players such as REMONDIS to explain what goes on behind the scenes with a view to ensuring that people have a better appreciation for waste management.
“We also want to point people towards embracing sustainability, by changing everyday habits. If we can do our own bit to educate young people, we can make better strides towards waste sustainability in the future.’’
So what do visitors see, do and say when they come to REMONDIS’ Rediscovery Hub at Swanbank?
“There’s usually a lot of excitement when we pile onto our bus to tour the outdoor areas,’’ Amrish explained.
“Most participants are taken aback at the size of the operations and the sheer amount of waste.
“Picking out material such as timber, concrete and steel for recycling is a big part of the operation, but beyond that, we have about half a million tonnes of residual waste going to landfill each year.
“A lot of visitors don‘t realise the effort that goes into managing waste once it’s buried, including leachate management strategies and diverting landfill gas for electricity generation.
“Visitors often think it’s out-of-sight-out-of-mind when waste is buried, which is rarely the case.
“A common question from the kids is why do we have so many cows on the grassed landfill sites, and the answer is they’re efficient lawn munchers, able to access areas that lawnmowers can’t get to!
“There are also a lot of questions around alternative waste management methods, and we’re happy to talk about energy recovery from waste and anaerobic digestion – viable alternatives to conventional landfill.
The REdiscovery Hub’s interactive classes are delivered by independent professional educators from EnviroCom Australia, an environmental consultancy that has driven education, research, and training services to the public and private sectors for more than 20 years.
“In addition to the outdoor experience, we run indoor activities that look at simple things that can be done at home such as ensuring that the right waste goes into the right bins and embracing composting and worm farming,” EnviroCom Project Manager Alix Baltais said.
“It’s a breakthrough even if a few visitors from each group go home and start a worm farm, which is easy to do, knowing that worms just love devouring leftover fruit bits, including peelings. And most kids love watching worms do their thing once food scraps have been thrown at them!
“It’s good too if people use old bits of wood and compost for garden beds.
“A big thing is having visitors knowing and thinking about product packaging at points of purchase – what’s the packaging made of, where will it end up, can you buy something else with more environmentally friendly packaging for the sake of the environment?
“Until they’re informed, young and older people alike generally don’t think about where raw materials such as plastic, glass, aluminium and paper come from… that they’re generally from the ground.
“We want visitors to have the big picture about such materials, where they start and where they end up.
“When waste management experts like REMONDIS want to boost recycling to minimise rubbish ending up in the ground, an important part of the solution is educating the community so they can make changes before waste ends up at places such as Swanbank,” added Alix.
Visits to the REdiscovery Hub are wholly funded by REMONDIS to remove cost burdens for schools and community group, and includes free bus rides to and from the centre. Bookings are essential, of course, as there is no drop-in, public access to the busy Swanbank Clean Energy and Resource Recovery Precinct.
“If each person that comes through changes their waste habits in a small way or tells others what can be done, the wins become exponential,” added Amrish.
“And we love running the REdiscovery Hub! It’s a joyful, fun and rewarding part of our work here at Swanbank.”
The REdiscovery Hub expects to host 2,000 visitors by the end of the year – keeping the enthusiastic local team happily busy.
Explore the REdiscovery Hub at rediscoveryhub.com.au. For REdiscovery Hub education centre programs and tour bookings, email REdiscoveryHub.SwanbanknoSpam@envirocom.com.au or call 07 3457 2400.
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