Viridor is a waste management company with over 320 facilities across the UK including the largest ERF (Energy Recovery Facility) in Wales. Located in Cardiff the facility has been operational since 2014 and handles around 350,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste each year – diverting 95% of South Wales’ residual waste away from landfill and generating 30MW of electricity for the national grid. Enough to power close to 50,000 homes.
We were commissioned to design and install a state-of-the-art visitor centre at their Cardiff facility – developed primarily for school trips which teach about sustainable waste management and how energy recovery fits into the waste hierarchy. The hope is that teaching children at a young age about recycling and how to reduce waste will influence their actions as adults.
Central to the Visitor Centre is an interactive model which replicates exactly what happens at this particular plant activating each stage as residual waste is taken and turned into power. Waste is represented by small black bags which visitors have to place in trucks and push to the drop-off point thereby activating a video and beginning the process. The action of removing this waste is represented by an arcade style grabber machine, visitors have to grab hold of waste to move on to the next stage – they then pass through several other processes each activated by the user via various valves and actions. Finally an engraved cityscape of Cardiff is lit when they have successfully completed the process.
Various interactives are used via touchscreen systems which allow visitors to play a number of games, further providing information on the recycling process in a fun interactive manner. A number of our off-the-shelf software options were also used alongside bespoke software, such as ‘Memory’ which creates a customised ‘match a pair’ game for up to 2 players. On one wall various cutouts of household items/waste can be selected and scanned with an adjacent barcode scanner which activates different video content depending on the item scanned. A re-creation of the facilities control centre with illuminated buttons and 3 screens also allows visitors to activate various content in an entertaining way including information on the numerous job roles at the facility and re-created CCTV footage of the plant in action.
Most surfaces of the visitor centre were utilised as signage with printed wallpaper used to provide a colourful yet informative finishing touch. The result is an interactive experience with a clear message about the future of waste management and our role within it. Thanks to the enjoyable and interactive manner in which information is presented the visitor centre has so far been a huge hit with school trips.