Biffa staying calm in a crisis

Strategy / Public Relations

Summary: We created an award-winning crisis communications procedure to ensure Biffa’s reputation was protected and effectively managed.

Over a period of 12 months Pelican responded to 25 separate incidents which had the potential to damage the reputation of the company.

Tell me more

Biffa is one of the largest waste management companies in the country. It has 48,000 commercial customers and holds 41 local authority contracts. As well as collecting from its customers using its fleet of vehicles, it runs landfill sites and energy producing facilities.

The challenge

Biffa did not have an effective crisis media and internal communications plan in place to deal with crisis issues. Without it, the external and internal reputation of the business was at risk.

It was essential that this plan was integrated with Biffa’s operations plan to detect risks, contain incidents and recover post crisis.

The Pelican approach

We worked with the director of safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) to identify the most likely potential risks and issues. This included collection issues, collision, fire, serious injury, death, odours, pests, tanker spillage and local pollution.

We then drafted a crisis media and internal communications manual which was integrated with the Biffa operations plan. It included crisis media team contact details, checklists to determine the level of a crisis and the procedures to follow, crisis response templates for likely media issues, key messages and key media.

A crisis media team was assigned depending on the level of risk – low, medium or high – and the team’s roles and responsibilities outlined. The high-risk team included the chief executive, and the low risk included the relevant site representative.

Template responses were drafted which could be quickly amended for each specific incident and would act as ‘holding statements’ should a media enquiry come in. Pelican also provided a list of key messages to include in all communication. A dedicated phone line was set-up and the entire crisis procedure was cascaded to Biffa staff.

The result

Over a period of 12 months Pelican effectively responded to over 25 separate incidents which had the potential to damage the reputation of the company. In 80% of cases, coverage was balanced and 40% contained key messages.

Don’t just take our word for it…

“You have really supported the business well in pulling together a plan to deal with this.” Fran Tansley, group marketing and communications manager.

“A great job: you really contributed and joined in… you did us proud.” Shaun Davis, SHEQ director.

Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environment & CSRfoodpackaging & logistics and trade association sectors and offers a range of services such as strategy, design,  content creation,  public relations and people development.

Contact us for marketing and communications expertise.



Biffa Worker Collecting Biffa BinsA Bin Truck Emptying Waste Into LandfillBiffa Bin Lorry With Biffa WorkerLandfill With Machines In The Background