Shady Waste Management Company Kicked Out of Town Following War of Words with WWAY

By Andrew Gauthier 

After a week of aggressively covering the questionable business practices of R3 Environmental, Wilmington’s WWAY finally received a response from the  local waste management company. Although it wasn’t the type of message that the ABC-affiliate was probably expecting.

In response to WWAY’s search for answers, including a running tally of how many days R3’s CEO has been MIA, the company took to its infrequently used Facebook page on Thursday and posted a definition of Yellow Journalism.

Some background: Back in July, New Hanover County chose R3, a local start-up that said it had devised a revolutionary way to convert garbage into biofuel, to manage the area’s trash operations. But after finalizing the agreement in September, R3 has had to continually ask for extensions on its clean-up plan. On March 2nd, the company announced that it could not meet the newest deadline of April 2nd.


While garbage continued to pile up, waiting for R3 to take action, WWAY began looking for answers. Along with local newspaper Star News, WWAY spent the last week trying to speak with R3 CEO Robin Grathwol to no avail.  After WWAY began asking, “Has New Hanover County’s new garbage company skipped town?” R3 responded with this Facebook post:

Yellow journalism is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension “Yellow Journalism” is used today as a pejorative …to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.

“I’m glad an R3 employee finally spoke up and said something,” WWAY news director Scott Pickey said Thursday following the Facebook post (which has since been deleted). “But lashing out at us for trying to hold this company accountable is just childish. Perception is reality. If you’re on the verge of a multi-million dollar project and your home office is abandoned and you refuse to call the media back for weeks, what are we to think? All Ms. Grathwol has to do is pick up the phone, call our newsroom and check in. It’s that simple.”

One Facebook user came to the defense of WWAY, posting this message on R3’s wall:

If you could provide your side of the story in defense to what the news papers say about you, that might help. They were right about your business sounding childish. What serious enterprise has internet arguments over facebook.

It turns out that R3 has more or less has skipped town. On Friday morning, New Hanover County officials called a press conference to announce that it was terminating its agreement with R3.

CEO Robin Grathwol released a statement corresponding with the announcement, saying that “the task proved more challenging than anticipated.”

Fittingly, Grathwol was not present at the news conference.