Class 4/5 visit Waterbeach Waste Management Site

On what has turned out to be one of the chilliest Tuesday mornings of the term so far, Class 4/5 braved a visit to Waterbeach Waste Management Site in Cambridgeshire to find out exactly what happens to our rubbish.

The first activity of the day was to sort some rubbish in to five different piles; recycling, paper and cardboard, kitchen and garden waste, general waste and things that could be reused. They did very well at separating it all, and there were only a few items that were placed in the general waste that could have been reused or recycled in some way. After that we donned our radios, coats, hi-vis jackets, hard hats and wellington boots to head outside and see what happens to the waste once it arrives at the site.

At the main entrance the children saw the trucks arriving and being weighed, they have to do this on the way out too so Amey Cespa can keep a record of how much waste is being delivered to the site. We then walked around the back of the huge hangers to see where all of the general waste was stored until the dumper trucks came to collect it and take it up to the landfill. Unfortunately we were not able to walk up to the landfill as the mud made it too slippery but we could certainly smell the rubbish from the bottom of the hill!

Next we walked over to the recycling centre where everything is split up according to the materials. From the viewing platform we could see the huge conveyor belts taking items off in all directions as well as the human pickers who had to sort the general waste from the things that could be recycled. We discovered that there are people working there 24 hours a day to help sort all of the recycling that is collected within Cambridgeshire. When we got back to the education centre our guide Karen showed us the machinery more closely on the CCTV cameras, where we could clearly see the lazers scanning and picking out the various types of refuse.

After all of that walking around it was time for lunch and we spent the rest of the afternoon turning our empty milk bottles in to elephant ornaments and plant pots. We then took the plant pots over to the composting site to plant some bulbs into while we learned all about how the compost was made.

It was a fascinating day to see (and smell) the rubbish that we discard into our wheelie bins and just what happens to it once it’s taken away.