May 31, 2023

Maresme Circular increases school visits to its centre by 25% thanks to Virtual Reality as a tool for environmental education

by MaresmeCircular in Consortium
  • The immersive experience with VR glasses that the organisation launched last November is a great attraction for schools in the region

  • Maresme Circular expects that more than 9,200 students from all over Catalonia will enjoy the experience this academic year 2022/2023

Maresme Circular expects that this academic year 2022/2023 more than 9,200 students from Maresme and Catalonia will enjoy the activity ‘Maresme Circular Immersive Experience’, a journey to the present and future of recycling through Virtual Reality.

The experience is part of the guided visit to the Maresme Integral Centre for Waste Recovery that Maresme Circular offers as part of its environmental education programme ‘Un volt als Residus’. Since November 2022, when the activity went live, and with the forecast for this year, school visits have increased by 25% compared to the previous year.

About the experience

With the Meta Quest 2 virtual reality glasses with a resolution of 5K and through a series of virtual flights that generate a highly immersive 3D sensation, users can fly over the Maresme Integral Centre for Waste Recovery, enjoying panoramic views of Mataró and a large part of the region, travel into space and land in a sustainable and self-sufficient city of the future. All this in 25 minutes with the help of an animated drone which, as well as guiding visitors, will teach them concepts such as the circular economy and downcycling.

“Many people think that the problem of waste is solved by recycling, which consists of using things that humans no longer want to make new things… But recycling is not the solution to your problems. The solution is to generate less waste!“, exclaims the drone, which, in a relaxed and friendly tone, urges participants to reflect on responsible consumption and on the need to make a commitment to the waste they generate.

‘Hand tracking’ to manipulate virtual objects

Thanks to the creative and technological development of Glassworks Barcelona, the immersive experience also incorporates a technique for real-time tracking of the user’s hands – called ‘Hand tracking‘ – which allows the manipulation of virtual objects without any additional device.

For example, during the tour the visitor can take a pile of used plastics (fishing nets, bottles, urban material…) and turn it, first, into chippings, the secondary raw material obtained when recycling plastic; and then transform it into a bench for urban furniture and a sports shoe. In this way, the user experiences the recycling process virtually at first hand.

The immersive technology, developed with the advanced 3D videogame generation system, Unreal Engine, and the use of binaural audio designed by the OIDO studio, generates a highly realistic virtual sensation.

The experience is suitable for people aged 7 and over and is available in three languages: Catalan, Spanish and English. Any school, institute or family can request it by contacting Maresme Circular.

‘Un volt als Residus’

The environmental education programme ‘Un volt als Residus’, was created in 2013 with the aim of raising awareness about the problems of production and consumption models that have led to the current climate emergency, and how waste management has a key role to play to rebuild the future with the co-responsibility of society as a whole.

Aimed at children, young people and adults, it encompasses different activities: from an Environmental Classroom, a tour of the Maresme Integral Centre for Waste Recovery and educational workshops to this immersive experience with virtual reality glasses. More than 60,000 people have already taken part in the programme.

Pupils at a school in Maresme trying out the virtual reality headsets / Marga Cruz