BAN Waste Select Committee evidence

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Phase 1 Day 3 2001-10-04 John Redmayne (CREATE, Liverpool)

written evidence submitted in advance


Re-use is the utilisation of whole goods or component parts by a second user either for the purpose it was originally conceived for (primary reuse) or another (secondary reuse).

The differentiation from recycling is the lack of a processing stage (recycling means the processing in a production process of waste materials for the original purpose or for other purposes).

I will concentrate here mainly on re-use of whole goods and in particular the role of the social economy - component re-use is a more specialised activity and less often undertaken by the social economy.

I suggest that we consider the huge range of activities that are technically re-use;

and the wide range of settings where re-use takes place;

Re-use in waste management policy

re-use has traditionally been given a higher value in waste strategies than recycling (reduce, re-use, recycle)

According to the European waste hierarchy re-use is at least at the same level as recycling and other forms of recovery, including incineration with energy recovery.

In it's Resolution on a Community strategy for waste management (1997) the Council recognised that the choice of options in any particular case must have regard to environmental and economic effects. But, it said, until scientific and technological progress is made and life-cycle analyses are further developed, re-use and material recovery should be considered preferable where and insofar as they are the best environmental options.

For the environmental movement re-use is the best choice after prevention, and before recycling. Treatment with energy recovery comes after recycling. Let's conclude that re-use deserves at least the same status as material recovery and should not be discriminated against.

Re-use has the following advantages;

Re-use has certain disadvantages

Drivers for re-use?

Barriers to re-use?

As with most activities encouraging re-use requires the barriers to be lowered/removed and the drivers to be strengthened. I don't believe that it is possible to legislate for reuse - it depends on individual, personal decisions - we should aim simply to encourage it.

Examples in action

The Dutch and Belgians have well developed systems for re-use, the following highlight some of the practices and arrangements that seem to have assisted this;

re-use forms part of the waste strategy at national and local levels in Belgium

the Belgian government provided financial incentives for local authorities to develop re-use organisations as part of their waste strategies

collections and redistributions by re-use centres are recorded by weight (using an extensive inventory of average weights and excellent recording and reporting systems) and so can form part of the recycling report for the local authority

in the Netherlands bulky waste collections are first offered for re-use (by the call being taken and assessed by the re-use centre) - if suitable they make the collection, get paid for it and then sell the goods at low cost. If not suitable the collection is made by the waste contractor and goes straight to disposal.

This system has been adapted to collect waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) from households - the re-use organisation makes the collections based on an annual fee per household. If they cannot be re-used appliances are sent to processing (treatment) plants.

The re-use centres have become well known (rather like charity shops in the UK) and the word Kringloopcentre now appears in the dictionary!

Whilst their main market has always been low-income households there is a developing trend towards opening new high street locations where the customers are more upmarket - shopping out of choice for items of interest - the prices remain very low though.

In Liverpool CREATE and the Furniture Resource Centre provide another example of organising to deliver re-use on a significant scale, integrated into the local waste management system;

CREATE collects around 16,000 white goods each year, producing 3,500 to 4,000 refurbished appliances for sale with a 12 month guarantee.

Appliances come both from retailers and local households, the latter via the Bulky Bob's collection service.

Most sales are made through the 'factory outlet' shop but recent development of a network of agencies has both increased sales and spread the area in which goods are available.

CREATE employs 15 permanent staff and provides 25 to 30 ILM�traing places, 68% of trainees have so far secured jobs on leaving.

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Bulky Bob's makes around 30,000 collections of bulky household waste per year on contract to Liverpool City Council, it operates as an Intermediate Labour Market scheme providing work experience and training to long-term unemployed people.

In its first year 12.5% of collected items were removed from the waste stream (compared to 0%by the previous contractor), over the life of the contract this will rise to 30%.

Bulky Bob's sells furniture and appliances to people on low incomes referred to them by social organisations in the city, white goods are offered to CREATE and wooden furniture is repaired by a sheltered workshop called Dove Designs. Higher quality items are sold through Revive - FRC's high street store which offers a wide range of goods as well as a Citizens Advice Bureau. White goods refurbished by CREATE�are sold in both Revive and Bulky Bobs - thus completing the circle.

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John Redmayne
Chief Executive

Enquiries to;

October 2001