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Brand Reputation In Waste: What’s Your Role?

In line with DEFRA’s twenty five year environmental plan and the digital age we live in, it has never been easier to access media stories highlighting poor waste management from businesses. Now more than ever, it is crucial that businesses play their part in the circular economy to help tackle landfill and fly-tipping incidents. Not just on a legislative basis but for reputation management amongst consumers as well.

Consumer Mindset

In a recent report by Mintel, it highlighted that UK consumers find it more appealing when businesses take a more sustainable approach in their actions, suggesting that a consumer’s choice between brands can be influenced by how eco-conscious they are. With consumer demand in mind, many businesses are launching marketing campaigns promoting environmentally friendly products along with their eco-conscious activity.

Whilst we hope brands are launching campaigns out of genuine concern for the environment, there is a fear they are being used as a competitive tool, just to gain market share in their sector. Whilst this is a negative connotation, it is still having a positive impact on the environment. 

So not only are the government recognising the need for more eco-conscious changes in business activity – consumers are, too. This is why it is crucial for brands to protect their reputation through effective waste management.

Brands have a duty of care over their waste, so making sure it is collected and transported by a registered waste carrier is crucial, as well as being taken to a registered waste disposal facility.

Fly-Tipping in Businesses

Fly-tipping is now a criminal offence, which can see a brand’s bank balance damaged as well as their reputation. According to The Environmental Services Association (ESA), in 2016/17 fly-tipped waste cost local authorities £57.7 million. With such extreme figures flagged by the ESA, more businesses are injecting their focus into their corporate social responsibility strategy.

However, unfortunately, we are still seeing examples of companies being prosecuted for poor waste management, with many guilty of fly tipping. A recent example in a BBC news article looked at one waste services company who were fined £25,000 for being responsible for 2,000 tonnes worth of abandoned waste.

Whilst this example focuses on a company from the waste industry, all brands are at risk of their waste being illegally dumped. With that in mind, brands must  be extremely cautious when choosing a marketing campaign, especially the more traditional printed methods.

Leaflet Dumping

Unfortunately for businesses, there is now a large risk with leaflet advertising, which could see your brands logo at the forefront of a publicised fly-tipping incident. A great example of the risk involved is when a man in Swansea was found guilty of dumping 720 BT phone books, which saw the company publicised negatively for one individual’s wrong-doings. Brands need to take extra care when planning a marketing campaign that involves leaflets, as they could end up on top of a large pile of fly-tipped waste dumped by a potential customer it was delivered to. Brands need to be cautious and make sure they know where that leaflet is going.

 Takeaway Menus

A large challenge to tackle, especially for the smaller food chains, are takeaway menus. Another printed marketing campaign that has the risk to see a brand at the forefront of a fly-tipping incident. A brand could spend a fortune in printing a bulk stock of takeaway menus, deliver them to potential customers, only to see them on top of a publicised fly-tipping incident.

Naturally the blame will be directed towards the brand, seeing them punished for an individual’s carelessness unless they can prove otherwise. So brands need to be cautious, they could consider making a campaign digital – perhaps using email or social media – to eliminate the risk of potential fly-tipped waste, which could also save them printing costs.

Brands Reducing Fly-Tipping & Waste

It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to waste, as many brands are doing all they can to reduce fly-tipping and encourage a circular economy. Here are some examples of great innovations fighting the battle: 

Adidas – Ocean Plastic Shoes 

A great innovation from Adidas that targets the issue of plastic waste. Adidas launched three new trainer ranges that are made from reused plastic bottles.

Reconomy – Staff Water Bottles

Like everybody else, we at Reconomy have an obligation to reduce our own waste as much as possible. Staff water bottles have now been distributed and all plastic cups removed.

Costa Coffee – Smart Cups

Joining forces with our very own Valpak, Costa Coffee highlighted the need to handle coffee cup waste by highlighting that 2.5 million of them are thrown away each year in the UK. To tackle the issue, Costa launched reusable and clever cups. There is an incentive for anyone using the cup , as they will receive a 25p discount on their drink. The smart cups ability is an add-on to this, which sees the cup used as a contactless payment system.

Patagonia– Recycled Plastic Backpack

A brand with a heavy focus on waste reduction, Patagonia create many of their products from recycled materials, specifically the backpack. Realising the need to reduce plastic waste pollution, Patagonia have launched a backpack range that is made from recycled plastic.

McDonalds – Zero Waste To Landfill

With a target of achieving a zero waste to landfill by 2020, McDonalds have released changes to their packaging. A big change is the lid of the McFlurry Ice Cream, which is now made up of 40% recycled content.

Key takeaways

Now we have looked at the importance of brand reputation when it comes to waste management, here are some key takeaway tips and points to consider:

  • A brand is legally responsible for any waste being produced from their business
  • A brand must ensure their waste collection service has a registered waste carrier’s licence
  • A brand must make sure their waste is going to a registered facility
  • Consider the fly-tipping risks involved in a marketing campaign
  • If a brand is transporting their own waste, they must have a carrier’s licence
  • Consumers rank brands higher if they are more eco-conscious


If you would like to talk more about how Reconomy can help protect and increase your brand reputation, please get in touch on 01952 292 000 or email us on enquiries@reconomycom.