It’s undeniable that film and television companies leave behind a massive carbon footprint with almost every production. Materials, labor, equipment, and travel are just a few of the actions required that are inherently harmful. As of a recent report, many industry heavyweights are scrambling to break bad habits.
The report, which comes from a group of film and television companies focused on making the industry more sustainable, called the Sustainable Production Alliance (SPA), has presented the statistics.
The report revealed that each big-budget feature film had a carbon footprint of over 3,000 tons. The Environmental Protection Agency categorizes this as more than seven million miles driven by a normal vehicle.
Smaller films had a footprint of about a million tons, so about a million kilometers traveled. The report found that the largest and most common contributor to large emissions was fuel, mainly due to generators and vehicle use. The statistics also factor in housing, air travel, and utilities to arrive at the total amount of carbon emissions.
TV series are in a similar boat, with fuels accounting for an average of 60% of their emissions globally. The SPA has prioritized tackling the congestion report by instituting several procedures, including more renewable energy sources around the fuel encouraged and available for projects – such as hybrid and electric vehicles – and battery-powered generator technology. However, due to the early nature of the industry, large-scale rollouts are still proving difficult.
Film London recently announced The Fuel Project to reduce emissions across the film and television industry. Funded by Interreg Europe’s Green Screen, the project works to curb industry’s current contribution to greenhouse gases and air pollution, mainly caused by fuel consumption. 50% of a production’s carbon footprint is due to fuel consumption in land transport and mobile energy services.
Commenting on the initiative, Daniela Kirchner, Chief Operating Officer of Film London and the British Film Commission and Lead Partner of Green Screen said:
“The global growth in film and television production, while exciting, will have a significant impact on our climate unless meaningful action is taken to reduce emissions. With 50% of a production’s carbon footprint coming from fuel consumption in transport and energy services, we felt this could have the greatest impact. As such, we are pleased to publish the Fuel Project report to provide suppliers of all sizes in the manufacturing supply chain with the resources, information and timelines needed to support our sector’s transition to low-carbon fuels and help address the climate crisis. ”
“I would like to thank Interreg Europe for funding this green screen initiative and Creative Zero for working with us to produce this report. I hope manufacturing suppliers can benefit from the report and that industry leaders and partners can continue to work together to address environmental issues.”
Earth Angel CEO Emellie O’Brien added, “There are many different actions you can take and I think it can feel overwhelming for people.”
“But really dialing in: Okay for this project, we want to focus on eliminating single-use plastics for this project. We want to focus on getting as many hybrid and [electric] Bringing vehicles into this project as much as possible by really focusing on what is available for your project.”
Amazon Studios, Disney, NBC Universal, Netflix
Netflix, for example, recently set a goal to reduce internal emissions by 45% by 2023 compared to 2019. NBCUniversal has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2035, and Sony is taking on the mammoth task of leaving no environmental footprint in any of its products and operations by 2050.
“We are guests in the communities where we film, and I think our industry has a real responsibility to leave those communities better than we found them,” said O’Brien. “So not just a do-less-damage component, but also a do-more-good component.”
Another problem the entertainment industry is struggling with is plastic. Today the world produces over 400 million tons of plastics annually. Almost half of this is due to single-use items. The world currently uses 5 trillion plastic bags a year. That’s 160,000 bags per second. And it takes up to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade. On average, a plastic bag is only used for 12 minutes. By 2050, the oceans could contain more plastic than fish by weight.
One company focused on calling back the alarming and growing problem is award-winning Mosaic, which aims to help end the single-use habit.
The retail industry has taken numerous initiatives for a more sustainable future in recent years. From eco-friendly packaging to waste management to leveraging groundbreaking programs like Beyond the Bag that limit the use of single-use plastics. The world currently uses 5 trillion plastic bags a year. That’s 160,000 bags per second. And it takes up to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade. On average, a plastic bag is only used for 12 minutes. Award-winning solutions like 99Bridges’ Mosaic are making their way onto the market to address the problem.
“We, the people and society in general, have become accustomed to the single-use habit,” said Derek Mak, Founder and CEO of 99Bridges, “Single-use plastic is easy, convenient and clean. The downstream effects are catastrophic for the environment. Getting people back into a return and reuse habit is a big challenge. That’s why we built Mosaic.”
He added: “For consumers, Mosaic is an app that reminds and rewards people to reuse. Now that we have the tool and an entire business model that can help, letting people know that this alternative exists is a challenge. It will take a lot of public education and marketing to get the masses to join this journey.”
Mak concluded, “We want Mosaic to be the operating system of choice that not only supports reusable bags, but also cups, food containers and bottles. Like Microsoft Windows, the operating system for personal computers. We want Mosaic to be the operating system for all forms of reusable.”
“Regardless of the industry, I think we need to understand that the real problem isn’t the bags or the fuel, it’s the habits. I think as people get incentivized, we will start to see more tangible changes.”
What would it take to change habits? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, offers his thesis – The Four Laws of Behavior Change: 1) Make it obvious; 2) make it attractive; 3) just do it; 4) make it satisfying.