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STEM Ambassadors - restoring the earth

Published: Apr 16, 2021 3 min read

s.castle@stem.org.uk

STEM Ambassadors - restoring the earth

April 22 is Earth Day and this year the theme is ‘Restore our Earth’. Earth Day gives us time to plan how we can help prevent climate change by learning more about the environment, food sustainability, ecosystems, the carbon cycle, air quality, plastic pollution and bee conservation.

We spoke to two of our STEM Ambassadors from the West Midlands STEM Ambassador Hub whose jobs are helping to restore our earth.The first is Amy Bloom who is an assistant technical plant engineer at SUEZ.

What does your role involve?

I work at a processing plant that takes household rubbish and turns it into energy. My job as an engineer is to investigate problems when the machines or processes aren’t working the way we want them to.

Why is your area of STEM important?

We have all seen pictures and documentaries of what happens where waste is not collected and treated properly - it ends up in the environment, particularly the oceans. My job helps make sure that what we throw away is dealt with in a way that reduces the effect on the environment.

What challenges do you face in your job?

It can be challenging to ensure the right thing is put into the right bin, and with every area across the country having different rules it can get confusing! However, this issue causes us big problems. For example, putting plastics and metals into your food bin can cause blockages which can mean we have to stop working.

How does your job link to Earth Day and sustainability?

The first process that I work on treats food waste, turning it into two useful products: a gas that we can generate electricity from and a soil-like material that can be spread on fields. As the gas is not made from fossil fuels, using it to make electricity reduces our carbon footprint. The soil-like material helps return nutrients in our food to the earth, making fields healthier and reduce the reliance on adding chemicals into the soil.

The second process that I work on treats the non-recyclable rubbish. We process the waste in a way so that instead of going into a landfill, we can use it safely and get electricity from it.

Tawanda Bwerudza is a project engineer at Polestar.

What does your role mainly involve?

I take someone’s ideas and drawings of what they want a car to look like, then use my skills to make those ideas into a car that can be driven safely and comfortably.

Why is your area of STEM important?

There are over 1,000,000,000 cars in the world. Personal transport is a major contributor to landfill, CO2 emissions and plastic usage. We must look to new technologies and materials to ensure our cars are made from sustainable materials and the components can be recycled and reused.

What challenges do you face in your job?

Breaking old thinking habits of using the cheapest and easiest solution despite its effect on the environment and our communities.

How does your job link to Earth Day and sustainability?

Many of the parts I design are made from sustainable and renewable materials: Our car is a 100% electric car, we also make the carpets from recycled fishnets from the ocean and some of our plastic parts could be made using sugar cane!

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