Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tiger in a turkey hut, more like

Well, that didn't take long! And I think my 'Cat. Pigeons' allusion was a tad tame with regard to the recycling 'expose' earlier this week.

First up, we have the PR from the chief protagonist, who obviously should have right of reply, which I guess this is as good as it gets: 

But I do recall the report saying they had been at the time invited to reply more fully, and claiming to have documents proving their role to be more innocent, which were then not forthcoming? Who knows?

It will be interesting to see how this pans out (if it ever does... 'out of sight, out of mind..'), but a few observations based on what I saw:
"...categorically deny the allegations that recyclable material was or has been exported for disposal to landfill. We do not deal with ‘mixed household waste’ which the programme repeatedly confused with ‘recyclable material."

Containers with their name on the shipping docket full of what looked like household binbag contents, sitting in Amsterdam, destined for a dead letter address in Jakarta?
“No prosecution has been brought against the company by the regulatory authority"

Not sure, but the programme seemed to be showing the regulatory body was not exactly a paragon of effectiveness in such affairs, putting their lack of action in a less than defensible (or defence-worthy) light in this case.
“.. one would have expected the BBC to have at least considered what possible motive [we] would have to export material half way across the world for landfill?  Commercially, it is absurd to suggest that material would be exported for landfill

Fair point. One I asked.
In considering the two sets of containers filmed at Rotterdam and Jakarta, Grosvenor noted:
“..containers of recyclable mixed papers filmed in Jakarta were not owned by Grosvenor, but originated from a German recycling company which could contain papers from throughout Europe, and we have evidence to support the fact that it was recycled.."

Woooo. Conspiracy. Odd that recycled paper from the UK originated from Germany and gets mixed with some household goo and then shipped to Indonesia. What we need is to follow the paper trail (groan)!! 
“We noted the programme deliberately omitted statements and input from other organisations and representatives who provided positive testimony to Grosvenor’s recycling.”

As media are wont to do, sadly. And it can really suck. Not quite sure how such character references counter the facts in this case though. And how did they know the BBC omitted these statements if they weren't shown the programme?
Next we have this from a concerned recycling group:

This was not really meant for the consumer, and boy does it read that way. They make a good point that the public needs to be reassured by audit trails. I just wonder how that will get into the average householder's mindset to grasp well enough and hence demand. Smoke. Mirrors. 

Meanwhile, Materials Recycling week reports:


"Green Party members of the London Assembly will be asking the London Mayor to take action over the allegations that Grosvenor Waste Management sent the rubbish to be landfilled in Indonesia. 

Green Party member of the London Assembly Darren Johnson said: “It is completely unacceptable to export household recycling halfway around the world. This scandal highlights the urgent need to get waste recycling plants up and running in London which would create jobs and help the environment.” 

Which is one way of reacting. No sense of self-interest here at all. I have my tar and feathers waiting.

And this from WRAP's CEO:

 “Recycling is one simple way in which we can all make a difference, and more and more people are doing it regularly. Local councils and the Environment Agency (EA) need to play their part by making sure that what is put out for recycling genuinely gets recycled. In this way, we can all use the growing number of recycling services available to us with confidence.” 

Which is a wonderful endorsement for saying... recycling is a good thing to do.

The Community Recycling Network (CRN) UK has apparently slammed (how very red-top... bet they just offered an opinion) private sector waste companies and suggesting that co-mingled wheelie bins are the “lazy way” to recycle. 

It also seems householders are able to ask for full audit trails to find out where their recyclables are going. No mention of how. Anyone know?

Apparently Grosvenor is now considering what legal action to take against the BBC for a "singular, unsubstantiated attack on the company.” 

We await the outcome of such considerations with interest. I'm taking bets now. Who's up for it being in the 'old news' bin before Christmas, and quietly shelved by all parties who have got what they needed out of it. Mainly their jobs' worth.

I think I'll revisit a few of them to check every so often. If I forget too... remind me.

No such thing as bad publicity?

With the rather less than spectacular results of my recent 'pitch' still smarting, I was pleased to read this very interesting article by Martin Webb in the Telegraph Online (of whom all hail for making it free and unlimited to access... I hope. If the link drops ask me and I can send a copy).

And as I cannot always presume to elicit a reply at all from such busy folk, let alone in print, I can at least turn to the trusty blog to preserve what I wrote just now here:

"I truly hope to have the good fortune of meeting Mr. Webb one day.

When some of such pitching concepts were first touted around, seeking participants, we applied and often got as far as a telephone interview.

I remember chatting with a BBC researcher, and amongst a few other concerns broached the subject of it not being intended as yet more car crash TV designed only to boost the channel's ratings at the expense of those featured. I was assured not; it being the BBC and hosted by a major money editor getting cited in reassurance.

Thank god we didn't get chosen! 

As non-business-trained folk with a creative idea based on a well-considered but still sincere and ethical plan, I can only imagine how we would have got savaged to the delight of the nation's viewers. 

Or if our main aim (nothing but publicity - who in their right mind gives over a massive %age of their precious baby just for an injection of cash that can be blown in a fortnight without highly structured mentoring? Not to mention taking time to ensure well scrutinised partner relationships in any deal) was too easily identified, we may have been just get edited out. We have talked to and met some actual 'victims' to know what really takes place. (see below for more).

I'd love to think that out there is a genuine effort on the part of all relevant parties (entrepreneurship grants/funds/mentoring, business chambers and other such groups (CBI, FSB, FPB, etc) and, yes, media companies) to try and put together what Martin describes. 

I for one am fed up with the spectacle of the coliseum being served up to appeal only to the masses, and would delight in getting a true sense of what it takes (warts and all) to innovate and build a business on a good idea, but with a genuine desire to make things work - from all parties involved - at the core of such a program/me."

Frankly, I'd really wish that we could score as slot with Mr. Webb. Santa... are you listening!???

More than coincidentally, this very topic was at the same time being discussed in the more than fine 'bricks' newsletter we subscribe to (scroll down), which adds some real personal stories to the pot.