Waste Management builds Oceanopolis

Notes from the Mediascape: the North American company has beta-launched a Facebook game to engage consumers with recycling; brands can join as reward partners, or develop CSR partnership programs.

With over 80 million people digging Farmville (literally) on Facebook, the world of casual social-media gaming has proven it can be a very effective way to engage the public. And so it’s into these waters that North American company Waste Management has waded with its new game, Oceanopolis.

Oceanopolis, launched this week in beta edition, is a Facebook app that allows users to be master of their own waste-management destiny on a private digital island. The user’s avatar moves around the island, cleaning up waste in exchange for credit. That credit can be exchanged for rewards in Waste Management’s consumer-facing Greenopolis social media program, or turned into points for game-centric rewards such as custom avatar t-shirts or new game tools.

Greenopolis is Waste Management’s marquee CSR program, combining on-street and online consumer engagement tactics and offering consumers rewards from over 10,000 retail partners. Consumers can earn points toward rewards by recycling beverage containers in on-street Greenopolis kiosks – which feature digital screens available for brand messaging or advertising – by sharing their recycling stories on Greenopolis.com or, now, by participating in Oceanopolis.

Waste Management has a corporate goal to triple the amount of waste it recycles by 2010, Paul Ligon, manager, Green Ops, a Waste Management subsidiary, tells MiC, and both Greenopolis and Oceanopolis are designed to increase awareness, and participation towards, that goal.

‘Moving the dial on recycling is going to require multiple parties. It’s not an individual act and it’s not a single company that’s going to make it work; we’re trying to have an open platform that enables lots of different parties with a common interest in advancing recycling to engage in the system,’ he explains, noting that consumers can engage through playing or participating, while companies can engage by support the rewards programs. One of the program’s highest-profile partnerships in the US is with PepsiCo, who worked with WM on their Dream Machine recycling program.

Once Oceanopolis goes into its full release, additional opportunities for brands (Canadian brands included) to be involved in the game will become available.

Oceanopolis will primarily be promoted through Greenopolis.com, which has about 30,000 members and receives about one million page views a month, Ligon says, and its Twitter page (13,000 followers) and Facebook page (29,191 fans). The full release is slated for this summer.