Commons Gate

Living Places: Cleaner Safer Greener

ODPM Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Committee 7 May 2003

Labour Party logo

Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: MR ALAN WOODS, Chief Executive, MS DEE BINGHAM, Policy and Practice Development Manager and MS SUE NELSON, Marketing and Programmes Director, ENCAMS, examined.
Witnesses: MS JO HARTOP, Head of Communications, Wrigley UK and Ireland, and MR ALISTAIR WHALLEY, Director of Public Affairs Europe, Wrigley Company Limited, and MS JESSICA SAMSON, Environment Manager, and MR NICK HINDLE, Head of Corporate Affairs, McDonald's Restaurants Limited, examined.


Q76 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): There is a McDonald's very near to where I live which has a drive-through service. It has its own car park which is also attached to a public car park near to the shopping centre. What people tend to do is drive in, pick up their McDonald's, park in the car park, eat their meal, dump everything out of the car and then drive off. It does not seem to me that patrols three times a day are going to deal with the wind blowing the material into the bushes and in the very nice fauna and flora that you have around the restaurant which does tend to happen. So, that is the first problem. Secondly, what do you do, if anything, to actually warn these people? Does anybody watch for this happening and go across to speak to the people about what they are doing? It is not McDonald's fault that people are dumping the material, but what are you doing to try and stop them doing it?

Mr Hindle: Again, a lot of this is to do with education and awareness within the restaurant environment, so it is to do with the signage that we have within restaurants; it is to do with the visible litter patrols that are run in these types of areas and it is to do with extending the awareness campaign through our packaging and also the advertising pilots that we are running. Where we see a positive impact, we will continue that practice and expand it where it is appropriate.

Q77 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): But you will not actually go up to someone and say, "Look, there is a proper receptacle to put that in"? You would not actually speak to anyone you see doing this on your premises or in your car park?

Mr Hindle: We see this as a small minority of our customers.

Q78 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): It is only a small minority who chew chewing gum but it causes an awful lot of problems.

Mr Hindle: We feel that the actions we are taking are a demonstration that we do not think it is an acceptable type of behaviour. In terms of engaging individuals, we do not think that is something that is really appropriate for our staff to do.


Q91 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): The evidence from both your organisations points to your work with schools and educational programmes. What evidence do you have that these programmes with schools are actually having an effect in reducing the amount of litter?

Mr Hindle: The work that we tend to do with schools is working in collaboration with schools to target areas within a community. Often they are one of the community groups that gets involved in the work that we are doing and there is a visible difference between the beginning and the end ---

Q92 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is that the sort of litter picking?

Mr Hindle: Yes, absolutely.

Q93 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): I am not so much concerned about that as the actual educational impact of people not dropping litter in the first place.

Ms Samson: We have not undertaken any research to examine exactly what the impact of our education is, but what we are trying to do is not only to conduct a short-term litter campaign with the school children but also to empower them with information in order that they can take good practice not only within the school but also back to their homes. So, we will talk about recycling and we will get a recycling officer from the local authority to come and talk to them as well and to talk about facilities that are available in their area, what kind of products they have at home that can be recycled or reused and try and go through that empowerment process in order that you do obtain some longevity of the message rather than just a short-term impact.

Q94 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is that similar with Wrigleys?

Ms Hartop: In terms of our involvement with education, we want to tackle this issue at source, so we want to change people's behaviour and, from the research that we have done, we know that the best and most effective way of doing that is to target those people at a young age. So, we have developed two years ago, in conjunction with ENCAMS, a programme called Active Citizenship, which is now available in Key Stage 2, 3 and 4, and early indicators suggest that it has been very well received first and foremost. For us, we wanted to make sure that it was a programme that did not just sit on teachers' shelves but was actually used, so we ensured that the content fitted with the citizenship part of the curriculum which became compulsory, as you know, last year. So, we have given teachers something which is teachable first and foremost, but it also teaches about good gum disposal within the overall context of care for the environment. Similarly, we want children to actually take those messages out of the school and into their local community. Some other initiatives that we were involved with include a girl guides' badge and I have to say that we were very pleased to have the highest ever take up of a corporately-sponsored badge and again this teaches people about actually disposing of their gum and also litter and care for the environment. It also takes the messages out in the community, it encourages the guides to actually work with members of the community and work with local authorities on the best way to encourage people to take care of their environment.

Q95 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Has there been any independent evaluation of the effectiveness of these schemes you are running and do we have them in every district or are they just concentrated in a particular area?

Mr Hindle: I am not aware if there has. The work that we do tends to be focused on a need and demand basis, so we do not blanket cover the country with that sort of activity because it is locally driven.

Ms Hartop: We have conducted independent evaluation. I have to say that, having been in school for only two years, you realise that to change people's attitude does take time. The independent evaluation we have seen is very encouraging, but it is not just about the effect of the programme as well. We are constantly monitoring whether it is actually being used and whether teachers actually want better worksheets and better material to enable them to teach this. In terms of your question about whether it is widely available, we would like it in 100 per cent of schools and we are working closely with Government to ensure that this programme is rolled out to a greater degree.

Q96 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): How far have you got?

Ms Hartop: We have got 25 per cent of schools at the moment compared to some other programmes that we know only have a take up of about 10 per cent.

Q97 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is that 25 per cent spread right across the country?

Ms Hartop: Yes, it is. From the feedback we have had, the reason it has received such a high take up is because it does allow teachers to pick up on not just citizenship but also other elements of the curriculum: English, geography, maths, etc. So, we are very encouraged by those initial signs. However, we would like to work with Government to ensure that that programme is in as many schools as possible and we are currently doing that and we believe that there should be a joined-up approach in this respect with people such as Defra and with the DfES and with ENCAMS and with ourselves.

Q98 Mr O'Brien: I have no doubt that your companies are wanting to work with local authorities to try and improve the environment. Do you think that we should have a more strategic approach to retailers, manufacturers, land owners and local authorities to work together to try and improve the situation on the environment in our towns and cities?

Ms Samson: We certainly agree with the principle of shared responsibility amongst different organisations. We have a lot of examples where we worked together and joined together with local businesses where we have a problem. In Southampton, we joined together with four other local businesses and the local authorities to devise a litter patrol map for the area and to share the responsibility between the businesses there. In terms of a more strategic approach, we are certainly aware of the proposal in the document for business improvement districts and we broadly support that principle there. We have some reservations about exactly how they would be enacted within those areas in terms of making sure that the level of effort is additional to what is already provided by the council and that funds are ring-fenced, but it is something in which we are interested.


Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Can you give us any example from anywhere in the world where the kind of action and campaigns you are conducting here have actually had a noticeable effect.

Andrew Bennett: Singapore!

Q105 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): That is not to do with Wrigleys, that is to do with the Singapore Government.

Ms Hartop: Are you talking about the specific issue of gum residue?

Q106 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Yes. This gum problem on the pavement is a huge problem as you acknowledge.

Ms Hartop: Yes.

Q107 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): You are taking action, however minimal or however large, to try and deal with it. Can you point to anywhere in the world where you have taken similar action and it has actually had a noticeable effect?

Ms Hartop: I have to say that the UK is quite unique in this respect.

Q108 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is it?

Ms Hartop: Being a global company, this is an issue in this market and that is why we recognise that and try to tackle it. So, really, the best example that I can give you is what we are doing in this market. If you ask me the question as to why it is different in other countries where we also sell chewing gum ---

Q109 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Take the States, for example. What do people do with their chewing gum in the United States when they have finished with it?

Ms Hartop: They put it in the bin, which is quite simple and which is the message we are trying to communicate to people. You have raised a good point about other countries because there seems to be a greater care for the environment, particularly in other European countries, and I know that, in the whole environmental area, we seem to be behind in terms of how our children and adults actually care for their environment. Whether that is because the messages are coming through loud and clear at home or through schools, certainly there is some evidence from other European countries that suggests that that is a case in a variety of other educational programmes.


Witnesses: MR TONY HAWKHEAD CBE, Chief Executive, and MS STEVIE SPRING, Chairman, Groundwork, examined.


Q126 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): The Liveability Fund - £201 million over the next three years. How, in your view, should that be spent in order to have the best impact on the problems that we are facing?

Mr Hawkhead: It depends what you mean. Some of that money of course is coming to Groundwork as part of the Government settlement. Some is the work we do on the ground with local committees and another to fund a Government programme called Community Neighbours. There is an element in there to which I think you may be referring which is intended to support the local authorities. This is where we get into the discussion we were having earlier about how you can target local authority funding without at the same time decreeing what they must do. There are two ways of doing it. The first is simply to give every local authority a small amount of money and encourage them to use it wisely. The other way of doing it is to say that we will only give it to local authorities which have the most need. My worry about that is that you then get into the same problems you have with area-based initiatives, which is that you target on those areas which apparently are most in need, yet Groundwork has shown by some of the work we do in, for example, the south east of England that there are communities which are apparently rich which in fact contain pockets of deprivation. Our view would be that, if you are going to invest, you have to find a way of getting it to every local authority. That may sound scattergun but it is better than trying to target it in a way which only benefits a small number. They have access to a lot of things already through things like the neighbourhood renewal.

Q127 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is there not a danger that too much of this money will be used for one-off projects rather than looking to the long term that you are more concerned about?

Mr Hawkhead: I guess that would depend on how many constraints the Government felt prepared to impose on the use of the money. There is that danger. There is also the real danger that it will not be used on the environment at all.

Select Committe Page | Return to Homepage

Promoted by Ken Childs on behalf of David Clelland, both of 19 Ravensworth Road, Dunston, Gateshead. NE11 9AB