Hugh’s War on Waste


We’ve been honing our damage limitation skills recently as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste programme last week focussed on packaging, highlighting delivered parcels and coffee cups in particular. We work with a number of clients in the packaging sector and have been working for the past four months on strategies to ensure that client views get a fair hearing. What makes good telly is not necessarily always fair, balanced and realistic.

Through working together with representatives across the supply chain, the industry bodies (FPA and PCRRG) have achieved much in a short period of time and have strong plans for achieving increased recycling of paper cups going forward.

But hats off to Amazon for their handling of the packaging ‘scandal’, which was also featured in the BBC War on Waste programme. Instead of defending their position (which they did robustly on the programme) they focussed instead on releasing big positive news two days before the broadcast aired.  For 24 hours they dominated the headlines with stories about drone deliveries – carefully timed to deflect attention from packaging issues and the programme.  Just shows that when you are as big a brand as Amazon you can dictate the news agenda and control timings.

Back to coffee cups, Costa was very nimble in PR terms around the programme, showing the sort of flexibility and sensitivity that is rare in a big corporation by announcing that they are replacing the recycling symbol on cups with the Tidy Man logo until paper cup recovery and recycling improves.  They are of course working on that agenda along with all the other big brands and everyone else involved in the supply chain through the Paper Cup Manifesto group, facilitated by the FPA and PCRRG. Watch this space.