COP26: Sustainable Communities – Gateshead Waste & Recycling Visitor Education Centre

The work of the Waste and Recycling Centre Visitor Education Centre (WRVEC) is to bring recycling and waste management education to residents, community groups and schools and is a wonderful example of effective collaboration between partner organizations.

The South Tyne and Wear Waste Management Partnership (STWWMP) made up of the Councils of Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, work alongside Suez UK and Groundwork to bring an active education program to the region’s residents which is delivered by the Centre Coordinator Anne Malabar, who has been in post since October 2020. The WRVEC building itself is a great example of local authorities leading the way in climate change action, with the infrastructure including solar panelling, a grey water system and charge points for electric vehicles.

The 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) are always the central message of the Centre and are very much targeted to encouraging change of behaviours around recycling and making a positive difference to the planet. This year’s Recycle Week with its theme of “Step It Up this Recycle Week” is a message which aligns perfectly with the work of the Centre and we’re proud to be supporting this initiative with a range of local community and school events.

The Centre’s education program is provided free of charge either in the Centre rooms, in the fantastic community garden and pond area or at partner locations. Sessions provide first hand experiences to develop knowledge and understanding of what happens to our waste from the point of curbside collection through to the creation of energy to power 30,000 homes in the region. Tours of the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) and Energy from Waste (EfW- where non-recyclable waste is burnt to make energy) sites are combined with workshop sessions which explore the processes of waste management and the benefits of 3R’s on the environment.

Despite COVID-19 challenges the Centre has continued to outreach via delivering several online initiatives, and wherever possible providing workshops including litter picks and community action projects. During this time, we also worked to develop an engaging programme of sessions which are currently available either intact or through modifications as needed by partner organizations.

The Centre endeavours to respond to current waste and recycling initiatives and to the latest data. The outcome of a recent BT survey showed that communities remain very unclear about how to dispose of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and batteries and so the Centre has been leading projects which promote WEEE recycling using various collection methods; something which we hope to extend further if funding is secured. The current WEEE project coordinator Dawn James has been successful in delivering over 60 amnesty events in the region which provide a collection service and providing messages for WEEE recycling; taking WEEE to your local Household Waste and Recycling Centre or returning items to where they were purchased (Delivery Return Scheme – DRS) and using battery tubes placed in public locations including supermarkets, libraries, banks etc.

If you want to learn more about what the Centre offers or would like to make a booking please don’t hesitate to contact Anne on or call 07909 231909.