BAN Waste Select Committee evidence

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

report from minutes of Select Committee

(7) CREATE, Liverpool

Submitted: Evidence from John Redmayne of the above organisation. (For copy see Official Minute Book)

The Chair welcomed John Redmayne, Chief Executive of Create UK, to the meeting.

Mr Redmayne reported that his organisation had been in existence sine 1995. The main aim was training, with reuse and recycling a close second. Mr Redmayne elaborated upon the paper that had been provided.

At this stage, the following questions were asked by the Select Committee:-

(1) What could City Council do to support and enable community groups to bid for recycling contracts? (Bob Stewart)

Mr Redmayne suggested that the local authority could support by first of all obtaining all necessary data and made reference to the examples in his paper. Specific reference was made to interesting developments in the Netherlands, in terms of their Reuse centres. These filled a niche between furniture projects and charity shops and were called `Premium Centres'.

The Chair queried whether the Liverpool operation could have been established without money from Government sources. Mr Redmayne confirmed that this would not have happened, since the model required venture capital from the public purse. It was not so profitable that they could pay back. However, the costs of the training programme were covered by a mixture of grants for schemes (New Deal, Health Action Zone, SRB and ESF).

(2) you manage to shake off the perception of second hand goods being second best? How were people encouraged? (Nick Fray)

Mr Redmayne reported that market research had been undertaken on customers in Liverpool and it had been discovered that the vast majority (60%) were on income of �10,000 or less. However, a small percentage on �25,000 plus had also been identified. The latter group could be identified as persons having made a positive decision on reuse. It was known from experience that many customers would aspire not to buy second had goods if possible, but were purchasing rather as a necessity. In Holland, as the volume of material increased, there had been a perception that reuse was `trendy'. There was a need for everyone in the organisation to be aware of the markets for reuse, to make it easy and comfortable for people to approach them.

(3) Would you like to comment on people's behaviour with consumer goods? Do some people want new goods because what they have is no longer fashionable? (Sylvia Conway)
Mr Redmayne suggested that there was an advantage in reusable goods being regarded as fashionable, but queried whether this would work, for example, with a washing machine? Clothing and furniture might be fashionable, but there was potential for looking at the wider issue of the life cycle of goods. Would people pay more for high quality, repairable goods for instance? There was a danger in the continuous creation of `complexity'. The collection of data (on washing machines, for example) would be useful.
(4) How do you advertise or market your goods? (Eric Landau)

Mr Redmayne suggested that the organisation could spend a lot of money advertising in local newspapers and achieve little effect. So, the majority of promotion was low key and by word of mouth.

(5) Is it possible for you to estimate the impact you're making on the potential for re-use, that is the scale of your activity versus the scale of the problem? (Geoff Stokle)

Mr Redmayne could not say. The organisation visited Dixons depot three or four times every week in the North West of the area. There were 1,500/2000 appliances every week.

(6) Many local charity shops have trouble disposing of all the second hand clothing that they are given. What role have charity shops and jumble sales etc got in promoting re-use? How could they be helped to achieve more? (June Wolf)

Mr Redmayne suggested that there was an irony her, since the charity shops themselves didn't regard themselves as reuse centres - rather they were raising money for charity. There was, perhaps, a case for `rebranding' themselves. In response to a suggestion that their operation might be more effective if four or five of such organisations were to operate out of the same building, Mr Redmayne conjectured that this was a question of anticipating public demand.

With regard to charity shops disposing of material that it could not sell, Mr Redmayne pointed out that Oxfam was the biggest collector of textiles in the UK, with sorting facilities. In response to a query from Bill Colwell on the composition of the Create Board, Mr Redmayne stated that attempts were made to put together a Board of people committed to the aims of social business. There was a range of different members, with no set structure; rather, Create attempted to get a balance of people with skills and abilities.

Bill Colwell referred to Mr Redmayne's suggestion that legislation could not encourage reuse, but pointed out that previous expert witnesses had said the opposite. Mr Redmayne reaffirmed his view that reuse was driven by individual consumer decisions.

Phil Capon made reference to `reparability' and queried whether there was a role for `design' within this issue. Mr Redmayne felt that reparability and recycling were often used in the same breath, but he felt that there was potential in Mr Capon's statement.

At this point, the Chair thanked Mr Redmayne for his attendance.