Graduate helps design display pods for repaired materials at UK's largest re-use hub

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A University of Salford graduate is helping to make Greater Manchester more sustainable by helping to design and set up key functions of the largest re-use operation in the UK.

BA Interior Design graduate Ria Ashcroft has been helping develop key spaces within the Renew Hub in Trafford Park. The hub is a 5,000m2 warehouse managed by recycling and resource management company SUEZ as part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s waste disposal contract.

The Hub, which opened in 2021, is where thousands of pre-loved items from Household Waste Recycling Centres across Greater Manchester, are refurbished and then distributed back into communities through three Renew shops and the online eBay page.

Ria got involved upon graduating in July 2021 and went on to design four of the Hub’s display pods, which showcase the refurbished goods and is currently helping design a new event space at the site.

She said: “Just as I was graduating, this opportunity came up for a summer position to help design parts of the Hub and then it ended up being quite a bigger role and I’m still here!

“There really is nothing quite like the hub. It’s a huge warehouse full of different shipping containers for different products such as white goods, electrical appliances, restored furniture, bicycle maintenance.

“I’ve been helping them design the layouts for the pods, finding people to work in them and then working on the new event space that we are creating. I’m also helping work through the deliveries as it’s my job to see if items could by upcycled or resold and to then delegate those tasks.”

In its first year, SUEZ sold 1,984 electronic items, 953 bikes, 745 pieces of soft furniture and 5,287 pieces of hard furniture with 300 tonnes of goods distributed through the Renew shops.

Ria says the Hub gets around six or seven deliveries of goods every day and all the upcycling of goods takes place at the site. Amongst the most common goods are chests of drawers, chairs, sofas, benches, piano stalls, drink and display cabinets.

Reflecting on her time at the Hub and her studies, Ria said: “When I was at Salford, we would speak about using types of furniture in our studies and I kept thinking about using second-hand furniture and pushing to see if I could use it. I was feeling very anxious about the environment and so this role was a massive tick for my values and I’ve enjoyed the challenge that’s come with it. SUEZ wanted someone to do something as sustainable as possible in the role and that really inspired me.”

All of the money raised through the Renew shops goes to local communities through the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity and the Recycle for Greater Manchester Community Fund.

The Renew shops can be found at the Household Waste Recycling Centres at Liverpool Road, Eccles, Arkwright Street, Oldham and Woodhouse Lane, Altrincham. You can shop on the Hub’s eBay page.

Image: The display pods at the Renew Hub designed by Ria Ashcroft below.

The display pods at the Renew Hub designed by Ria Ashcroft

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