Jan 05

Social Media Challenge for the Waste industry

The UK is in crisis, we are headed for a ‘perfect storm’ as landfill is soon to reach capacity and there is nowhere else to put all our rubbish:


I am NOT an advocate of thermal treatment which results in dioxins and other toxic chemicals being spewed out into the atmosphere but what else are we going to do with all the rubbish we keep producing? – it needs to go somewhere….

One of the major sticking points for thermal treatment is local opposition. I can see a massive opportunity for the waste industry to engage with people, have a dialogue, reach a resolution. 2 words – social media.

I was doing a review of their social media when the idea occured to me.

I have looked at their Facebook Pages, I have looked at some tweets, I have looked at 4 blogs and I have looked at corporate videos. Lets take a look at how they are faring, some of this is slightly comical:

1. Biffa http://www.biffa.co.uk/

As the top waste management company in the UK Biffa appears to take no active role in social media at present.

The Biffa FacebookPage (unofficial) is run by a chap named ‘Moonface’ and has declared a dislike for rival Sita ‘Thank you for not liking Sita, I like you. I like you a lot.’ The page also features comments about the benefits of sleeping in one of Biffas bins, jouvenille comments and some complaints about poor service. You can check it out here:


Biffa Towel Image

Biffa has no blog, I found this on the @biffa twitter handle:

Cute, ain’t he?

The top hit on Youtube was ‘… Biffa hasn’t turned up for 2 weeks’ Well so far, Britans leading waste management comany hasn’t turned up at all on the social media platforms reviewed here.

2. Waste Recycling Group (WRG) http://wrg.co.uk/

No blog, no Youtube channel, no FB Page.They have got a Twitter handle @WRGGroup- this was their last Tweet dated Oct 27th:

http://www.wrg.co.uk/page.php?article=935&name=Waste+announcement+heralds+%22proud%22+green+future+for+lincolnshire 1:24 AM Oct 27th, 2010 via web (I don’t know where this link will take you – click at your own risk)

You can sign up for their newsletter if you want WRG news.

3. Shanks http://www.shanks.co.uk/

@Shanks on twitter describes himself as a Godfather of some description but that isn’t Shanks the waste company.

No blog, no Twitter handle, no Facebook Page. Youtube – check this out if interested in AD (Anaerobic Digestion), which is another waste treatment option.

4. Veolia http://www.veoliaenvironmentalservices.co.uk/

The French waste giant Veolia are the ones who seem to be making the most effort with social media. Both their CEO and COO are blogging, though admittedly they have both only written 1 post each.


Waste Management CEO Image Waste Management COO Image

CEO Jean Dominique Mallet & COO Tom Spaul at Veolia

The forum and comments sections of the blogs seem pretty bare but I guess they are just getting going. There are also a number of corporate videos on the main website and a couple of podcasts for good measure.

Veolias FB Page is in French though and the @Veolia Twitter handle does not look like this Veolia. No Youtube channel for Veolia UK.

5. Sita http://www.sita.co.uk/

The best thing about Sita’s social media presence is its Twitter presence @sitaUK which has recently started up and gets updated just about every day.

Their comebacks to Biffa’s threats on the Facebook page was ‘We are better than biffa we are sita’. They look kind of pathetic – this is their only post.

They have no blog, Sita Cornwall has opened a Youtube account and have posted 1 vid.

6. Viridor http://www.viridor.co.uk/

Whilst Veolia have the best social aspects to their main website Viridor are probably doing best on the platforms I have been looking at. They are active with accounts on Twitter, Youtube and Facebook and they have the buttons on the homepage of their main website so you can click through easily. No blog though.

It is clear in general the waste industry is barely using the social web.

So my question to the waste industry is – do you have the guts to step out onto the social web? To come out from behind your PR people, have a debate and find a resolution?

Energy From Waste Plant

I know for a fact that anti thermal groups are active on the web because I am part of one! (If you think this seems contradictory I would be happy to explain.)

We need a solution – so lets get the debate going on the social web. The waste companies need to choose their sites carefully (that’s the reason for my opposition by the way), they need local people on side, they need to choose the right technologies that can deliver.

They need to do all of this and they need to do it fast so step out, join the dialogue, win people over, I know you can do it.


Waste companies – if you are interested in social media contact Real Fresh TV in Manchester, they seem to know a thing or two about it (not affiliated)

edit: I am now owner of a social media management company

1 comment

1 ping

  1. Kevin Hurst

    Thanks for a great roundup of what the sector is doing online in the social space – as an industry, recycling and waste management may be slightly behind more obviously consumer-facing sectors, although I think we’ll see a lot more activity in 2011.

    At Veolia we are looking into ways we can engage with our stakeholders online, although want to make sure we get it right – as you’ve mentioned we’ve already started the conversation on our own website! Along with our blogs, we launched a YouTube channel in December http://www.youtube.com/VeoliaESUK and run Twitter accounts in Sheffield (@Recycle4Shef) and West Berkshire (@WestBerksWaste) to support our services there.

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