DEMYSTIFY GOING GREEN WITH OUR FAQS
We know that sometimes it can be a bit confusing with what we have to do, and what’s less important. Hopefully the answers below will help demystify things a little. And if you have a question you’d like answered, get in touch.
RECYCLING & WASTE
PRINTING & INSURANCE
GETTING THE RIGHT SUPPLIES
I WANT TO BE GREENER, WHERE DO I START?
We’d recommend going back to the home page, and clicking on the relevant link. If you're in production, How to add green to your shoot gives you a great general overview of what you can do. There are also specific hubs for crew members and heads of department, and for those who are office based. You can also go straight to Resources for checklists, tips on going paperless and low energy lighting, and ideas for rehoming leftovers. If you don’t have much time, try our green tip randomiser for a quick hit!
HOW DO WE TURN THE TIDE AND MAKE OUR INDUSTRY GREENER AS A WHOLE?
As with anything, demand drives supply. If we want cheaper low energy lighting, enough people have to start using it. If we want our suppliers to provide recycling facilities, better disposables, real plates from our caterers, we have to ask for them and also make it clear why we want these things. Working as a community will help spread the word quicker, and sharing your experiences with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will increase awareness of the problems our industry is facing (and contributing to) and switch more people on to the resources AdGreen is offering.
I'VE HAD A LOOK AND IT SEEMS LIKE PRODUCTION IS SUPPOSED TO DO ALL THE WORK - HAVEN'T WE GOT ENOUGH TO DO ALREADY?
Yes, we do have enough to do. But we are also the lynchpin of the shoot in many ways. We have access to all the departments, all the cast, the agency, and sometimes also the client. AdGreen is designed to help you share the responsibility, by allowing you to guide your crew to tailor-made resources like What Can I Do and Rehome Your Leftovers, and giving you lots of text you can copy and paste, as well as shoot and office checklists that you can work through. It also has to be said that this is just getting us ahead of the game a little bit - in the future we will be expected to act this way as client and agency sustainability expectations get higher in order to comply with evolving legislation.
WHAT DOES CARBON FOOTPRINT MEAN?
Everything we do produces carbon (even breathing!), so this is the common unit of measurement we use when talking about our impact. Unless we are working carbon neutrally (i.e. all the energy we need is obtained from renewable sources like the sun or wind), everything we do has an output that can be converted into an amount of carbon units (generally measured in tonnes). Some activities produce bigger outputs, or footprints. When we talk about our carbon footprint, we are talking about the impact a specific activity has on the environment. This could be driving a car to the studio, the production itself, or the industry as a whole. We don’t yet have any data on our industry’s footprint, but we’re working on how to measure it. However, we know it’s bad. Our friends over at Albert, BAFTA’s green initiative working predominantly with TV production companies, have been measuring the industry’s impact for the past few years and now know that approximately 12.9 tonnes of CO2 to make one hour of broadcast on average, with huge differences between genres and types of productions. To put that in perspective, the average UK citizen’s carbon footprint for a whole year is 15.4 tonnes (see how yours compares here). Of course, we don’t work in broadcast hours, more like broadcast minutes, but often with the same level of resources.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTORS TO OUR FOOTPRINT?
Again we can refer to Albert’s data, which suggests that transportation, energy to power lighting and facilities, and waste are the three biggest factors. This is why embracing new technologies like low energy lighting and renewable energies is so important.
WHY IS ALL THIS SO BAD?
As you may be aware, there was a global environmental conference in France at the end of 2015 called COP21. As a result, every single country in the world agreed that we need to reduce our emissions and has made voluntary pledges to limit the amount of warming of the earth's atmosphere. It is generally accepted that an increase of 2 degrees from pre-industrial revolution levels will cause catastrophic climate change, displacing communities, creating food shortages and generally wreaking havoc - we are already seeing the effects today. Our big problem is that all of our habits and usual ways of working are fundamentally unsustainable, which means that to get us on a path to the "well below 2C" as described in the Paris agreement, we are going to need to make big changes. The agreement was just the starting point and we can expect a ramping up of ambition and the adoption of new ways of working and regulation in the very near future. Some will wait for legislation to kick in, some will be proactive and innovate their way ahead of the competition.
WHAT DOES THE GREENEST SHOOT EVER LOOK LIKE?
That would be one that tries to reduce its energy needs in the first place, and then finds ways to decarbonise - either through green tariffs for mains power or by using renewable alternatives for location power. There would be a zero to landfill policy in place, making sure as much as possible is prepared for reuse, and that waste is sorted into different streams and recycled as much as possible. The 'end life' would be considered for every item purchased for the shoot, from large set builds, to drives, batteries and croc clips. And lastly, making sure that all the materials brought into the production are coming from sustainable sources in the first place! As you can see there's lots of progress to be made. For now you can use our checklist to help you take your first steps towards greener productions.
SO IS IT ALL A BIT WORTHY AND BORING BEING GREEN?
Well actually no! In the past year or so we've seen amazing innovations: solar planes, roads powering lights using cars' kinetic energy, and concepts like the circular economy and divestment. We should look at this as a creative challenge, and it makes great business sense. As consumer expectations increase and legal requirements get tighter, numerous studies have shown that becoming a more sustainable company is good for growth. And at the end of the day, wouldn't you prefer going to work every day knowing you were doing good for the environment rather than trashing it?
OK SO I'M TRYING, BUT NONE OF MY CREW OR SUPPLIERS ARE GETTING ON BOARD - HELP!
The key to all of this is WHY. If anyone is being resistant to what is asked of them, be they a member of the production team, a crew member or someone from the agency or client, explain why it’s important. Whether that’s to you personally, to the company or to the agency or client. It might be that it’s a request from the brand, it might be saving you money, it might just be that in 2016, the alternative is downright ridiculous and wasteful. Reminding is also very useful, which is why we have tools to help you hammer the message home. During pre-production you can direct people to What You Can Do which gives them some basics to think on, then you can tell them what to expect on the shoot by adding green notes to the call sheet and copying them to your email the night before, and you can remind again when you phone them with call times. Finally asking runners and location staff to help monitor and remind on set will help, and making sure you have correct signage will help reinforce things when you’ve got tired of repeating yourself (or have lost your voice). With suppliers, you can use the questions for studios and catering from the spread the word section - and don't be afraid of asking for what you want and telling them why. If you need a bit of inspiration, check out reports from previous shoots, and remember things might not work the first time, but keep persevering. In a few years, this will all be as normal as writing a risk assessment or filling out a 3rd party hotel form...
WHO'S BEHIND ADGREEN?
You can find out more about AdGreen here.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED WITH ADGREEN?
Aside from tagging us on social media, you can contact us here. Got a question? A horror story? A great charity? Want to share how your green shoot went? Let us know. And if you want to help with the running of AdGreen, we definitely want to hear from you. Use the contact form and select 'I want to help'.
WHEN'S YOUR NEXT EVENT?
You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more info about our latest events, as well as subscribing to the blog and adding yourself to our mailing list for the newsletter.
DOES IT COST MORE MONEY TO BE GREEN?
The big question. Generally no, but there are some exceptions to the rule...
Firstly, and most importantly, a lot of ‘green measures’ will actually save you money - immediately in some cases, whilst with other changes you may have to wait longer to see a return on investment. Switching to bulk water options, such as table top water coolers, in order to reduce waste, will likely be cheaper than buying crates of 500ml bottled water; and will also save you money if your waste company are charging by the bag. Printing less call sheets will save on paper and ink costs. Changing light switches to timers or movement sensors in offices and studios will involve an initial outlay, but will also see reductions in energy bills over time.
However, some are worried that if agencies or clients start asking for things to be done more sustainably, there will be costs involved in making that happen. For example, sourcing sustainable materials to make props or breaking down sets fully to recover recyclable materials will involve additional time with crew and studio/workshop space. If you are being asked about these at the time of bidding, we would advise that you highlight these requests and their associated costs in your bid letter, to show that they need to be covered in terms of budget by the agency/client.
WHICH IS BETTER - LOW ENERGY LIGHTING VS REGULAR?
This is something that we are are currently working on in conjunction with DPs, gaffers and suppliers and we’ll be producing a production-friendly guide in the near future. Whilst there is no doubt that low energy lighting options will save you money in fuel/energy units as well as consumables like gels and in air conditioning as they don't emit the same level of heat as traditional options, the rental cost can be comparatively higher. Check back soon for our full guide, but in the meantime, we have details of low energy lighting options and renewable/low energy power sources here.
RECYCLING & WASTE
DO WE NEED TO RECYCLE?
The short answer is yes. The waste hierarchy is a succession of priority waste management techniques, with waste prevention the principal technique, followed by preparing for reuse, recycling, other recovery and finally, disposal. Up until the revised waste regulations of 2011, this was addressed on a voluntary basis, however it is now a legal requirement. Applying the waste hierarchy delivers more than just legal compliance; it makes sound business sense and can result in significant cost savings as well as benefitting the environment.
WHICH COMPANIES CAN PICK UP MY RECYCLING?
This depends where you're shooting - take a look at our dedicated page dealing with waste management on set.
WHAT'S THE BEST BIN SET UP?
First of all as discussed above, it's all about minimising waste in the first instance. Banning polystyrene, asking shoot attendees to bring reusable bottles and coffee cups, and the caterer or studio to provide real plates, cutlery, mugs and glasses will all help reduce waste. Encouraging bottle refilling from drinking water sources will again reduce waste, as will encouraging low energy lighting like Arri Sky Panels as they don't require gels. Rehoming items like props and costume is also a must.
When it comes to what's leftover, it depends where you're shooting. We've dedicated a separate page to dealing with waste management on set, take a look at it here.
I'M CONFUSED BY COFFEE CUPS - WHERE DO WE PUT THEM?
It depends. If they’re a normal high street type kind, they are likely lined with a layer of plastic to keep them waterproof (as many of the disposable catering plates, bowls, boxes etc are). These cannot be recycled in a basic Dry Mixed Recyclables collection (paper, cardboard, plastics and glass) and should go in your land fill bin. Check out our printable signage page where you can download the right sign depending on what your studio or caterer is offering, and what streams your waste collector is collecting. The best thing is to encourage those coming to the location to bring their own mug or thermos (like a KeepCup) or ask your studio to provide mugs. The next best thing is to provide compostable cups where mugs aren't available - see below.
WHAT IF WE’VE GOT THOSE GREAT VEGWARE/COMPOSTABLE CUPS - WHERE DO THEY GO?
Compostable items are made from plant based material like corn starch syrup and paper mulch, and come in wide range of items: not just cups and plates, but cutlery, food boxes and napkins too. We've discussed with Vegware, one of the leading manufacturers, where these should go after being used. Compostable products are designed to break down within 12 weeks when placed in a commercial food waste collection. Commercial composting creates the perfect conditions of heat, moisture and microbes to break these types of products down most effectively and at the same rate as food waste. In landfill, conditions are actually designed to prevent materials breaking down. When organic materials break down in landfill they emit methane, which is 20 times worse than carbon dioxide and is a major contributor to climate change.
Therefore, if you have compostable items on set, they should go into a food waste and compostable disposables bin (and bonus, they don't need to be scraped of food waste as that's going in the same place) - unless you're working with Quantum Waste as they prefer to add them to the compost collection themselves. As a second best option, the cups and plates etc can go into a normal recycling collection as they are predominantly made of paper, with a PLA* lining - but scrape them first to avoid contaminating your recycling with food waste.
The best thing is to check early on with your caterer or studio what they will be providing (send them our questions), and what your waste collector would prefer so that you can provide the right types of bins and bags, and print the right signs.
*Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch, tapioca roots, chips or starch, or sugarcane.
WHAT ABOUT PALM LEAF PLATES?
Quite a few of our caterers offer these now, and they fall into the same category as compostable items (see above). Caterers and studios should be asked to provide real plates (and cutlery) where possible to avoid the need for disposables at all - use our questions to communicate these requests to them.
CAN WE RECYCLE CORREX?
The short answer is no. Having consulted with Paper Round, it is apparently not possible due to the type of plastic used to make it. It is best avoided, and we recommend Ram Board instead - see the getting the right supplies section below for more details.
WHAT ABOUT POLY FROM ELECTRICAL (OR CATERING)?
Polystyrene (and plastic bags) takes at least 500 years to degrade - some suggest it never really does at all. Therefore it's best avoided. It can be recycled, but only by very specialist companies, and often the polystyrene needs to be clean (i.e. unused). This means poly used for lighting, which has been painted black on one side, cannot be recycled as the resulting material would come out grey. We should be asking our lighting teams to avoid poly all together (use our tips here to let your DoP and gaffer know) - and there is a plant-based alternative supplied by Green Kit. We should also discourage AD teams from using it to pin up storyboards - often it's broken in two which means it can't even be returned to the lighting company to reuse. Use Get Set Hire’s portable noticeboard instead, or stick boards schedules etc to walls and drapes with blu-tack or double sided tapes. Catering poly cups which have been used for hot drinks are also not clean therefore can't be recycled, but we all know there are lots of alternatives to poly cups, including just using your own reusable cup.
WHAT ABOUT CROC CLIPS & GELS?
Working croc clips can be returned to the lighting company for reuse, broken ones should be binned or recycled (depending on what the recycling collection is). Why not have a bucket on your tea table for any rogue clips to get put into? You can use our sign here. Gel cannot be reused as it generally changed colour temperature after use due to the heat from lamps and cannot be guaranteed the same colour. However, large offcuts can be sent back for use (lighting companies often keep these for students) and used gels can be recycled (but generally only by companies collecting this type of waste specifically, rather than as part of a general collection). Check with your lighting company.
WHAT’S A WASTE TRANSFER NOTE AND DO WE NEED ONE?
The production company, as the producer of waste, has a legal responsibility to keep a record of where their waste goes. Each time rubbish and/or recycling is picked up whether from their office or from a shoot location, you should receive a Waste Transfer Note (WTN) - if you’re not emailed one, request it from your waste company (they may produce an annual statement for you instead of one after every pick up), and store it safely with other important docs like the PIBS in case the Environment Agency need to see a copy. By law, WTNs must be retained for a minimum period of two years by both the carrier and the producer. They look like this.
PRINTING & INSURANCE
FIRST OFF, DO WE HAVE TO KEEP PAPER COPIES OF INVOICES, RECEIPTS AND OTHER ACCOUNTING PAPERWORK?
No you don't. There are no rules on how you must keep records. You can keep them on paper, digitally or as part of a software program (like book-keeping software). This is direct from HMRC's mouth - see more here.
ARE E-SIGNATURES LEGALLY BINDING OR DO WE NEED TO HAVE PRINTED NDA'S, CAST RELEASES ETC?
With developments in software, contracts and agreements can now be signed via a tablet or computer, but are they legal? The short answer is yes, electronic signatures are legally binding for nearly every business or personal transaction in the world, and in the UK they are legal under the Electronic Communication Act. And from an insurance point of view an electronic signature is perfectly acceptable. See our paperless section for more tips on e-signing documents.
DO WE HAVE TO PRINT AND DISPLAY/HAND OUT A RISK ASSESSMENT FOR INSURANCE PURPOSES?
No, you do not. Although a risk assessment should be completed for even the simplest of shoots, and sent to everyone attending including you insurer, client, agency, cast and crew; it doesn't have to be printed and displayed on set.
AND WHAT ABOUT CALL SHEETS?
Again no, but make sure it is sent to everyone as per the above. A couple of A3 copies up on set for reference is handy though.
WHILST WE'RE AT IT, ANOTHER COUPLE OF THINGS WE ALWAYS WONDERED... ARE EQUIPMENT ITEMS ONLY INSURED IF THEY ARE LISTED ON THE CALL SHEET? WHAT ABOUT CREW MEMBERS?
No. As we all know, things change continuously and it would be unreasonable to expect that a new call sheet would be produced each time an item or crew member was changed. If a claim was made and an item or person wasn't on the final call sheet produced, insurers would use your latest supplier quotes or emails to and from confirmed crew as evidence that they were on the shoot, and therefore to be insured.
CAN WE REUSE OUR DRIVES?
YES! Absolutely, completely and utterly. The external hard drive was designed to be written on, deleted and reused up to ten thousand cycles. They are meant to be worked, not used once and then stuck on a shelf to rot.
Once you have given the agency their copy of the data there is no reason why you can’t reuse your hard drives, with a few caveats;
1. Don’t buy cheap drives! Enterprise HDD’s and raided twin drive units are best for multiple reuse.
2. Always erase the drive completely before you use it again.
3. Check the drive is working properly before you go to set and get the DIT to check it too.
4. Never put more that one projects rushes onto a single drive.
5. Keep the drives working and spinning, they will last a long time.
DOESN'T OUR INSURANCE COVER REQUIRE US TO USE NEW DRIVES ON EVERY JOB?
Your insurance company requires you to act in a professional manner and use equipment that is ‘fit for purpose’ and has been checked by a designated professional to be so. If your insurance company required you to use new hard drives on every job the camera cards and external drives supplied by the camera companies would need to be box fresh on every job; they are both in essence just hard drives.
WHAT DO I DO WITH DRIVES THAT ARE NO LONGER WORKING, OR ONES THAT ARE TOO SMALL OR SLOW?
Don’t bin them. Under WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulation) guidelines, they should be recycled, either by returning to the company who sold them to you (they are required by law to have a scheme in place) or by organising a collection from 123 Recycle for Free. Enterprise hard drives are made of easily recyclable materials.
WHAT ABOUT LONGER TERM STORAGE?
It is important to remember that the longterm archiving and storage of data is about the consolidation of data onto as few natural resources as possible; compressing everything to take up as few drives/tapes or as little server space as possible while maintaining the integrity of the data. Film Locker specialise in long-term storage, taking six 4TB client hard drives, from different customers, with on average less than 1TB on each and fit that data onto one 8TB archive server drive. They use the space more effectively and so allow the drives to be reused.
Thanks to Keiren O'Brien at Film Locker for answering these questions!
GETTING THE RIGHT SUPPLIES
I’M ON LOCATION - WHERE CAN I GET WATER COOLERS SO THAT CREW CAN REFILL THEIR BOTTLES?
If you’re asking crew to bring refillable bottles to your shoot (something that we fully endorse), you’ll need to make sure there’s somewhere to fill up from. This could be a plumbed-in cooler at the studio, but you may need to organise a cooler or water pump if you're on location. The best option is the table top kind. More portable than the freestanding ones, and they don’t need to be powered either (although if they are you will get the option of chilled water). Get Set Hire supply them along with the water, in 18.9 litre containers.
As a guide, the average attendee might drink 3-4 500ml bottles of water in a day. This will vary in winter/summer. One large bottle for the cooler is 18.9 litres, so call it 19, and say each attendee is drinking 2 litres, one bottle will serve 9-10 crew members for a day (however, I recently only got through only 3 in a day on a 50 person shoot in summer). Any extra bottles you get are on sale or return so you can always over order if you’re worried and send back any unused bottles. Any empties also need to be kept and sent back, as they are refilled. We also had enough single use bottles for everyone in case people forgot bottles. These were handed out and named, and then refilled throughout the day. Even when providing one bottle each, using table top coolers still means a huge reduction in waste. You can also use our printable signage to remind people to bring their own bottle next time (and remind them in advance of the shoot to bring one), hire a jug and glasses from Get Set Hire, or buy some of your own to keep at the office and take out in the future. All of these options will help you cut down on waste.
Cost wise, when I used the coolers, we didn't have an on site caterer, but hot boxes, and they supplied water too. One 19 litre bottle from Get Set Hire is £7.60, meaning a litre is 40p. The equivalent from our caterer supplying Belu 500ml bottles was working out at £1.66 per litre, so the cooler was much cheaper, even when you had factored in the cost of each tabletop cooler unit, which is £5 for the week. Obviously when using a caterer, the water is included in the per head cost, no matter how much/little you get through. If you’re using coolers, you would want to negotiate a discount to allow for the fact that you will not be needing water from them, and to cover the extra cost.
I GUESS I SHOULD SKIP THE NESPRESSO MACHINE WITH ALL THOSE LITTLE PODS CREATING MORE WASTE RIGHT?
Well, although this would be in line with the waste heirachy (see above), if you have to provide ‘proper coffee’, Get Set Hire can take back any used pods and send them for recycling (assuming you’re hiring a machine and pods from them of course). So make sure you have a small container on your tea-table, and you can print out a sign from our printable signage page to go with it.
If you’re not hiring from Get Set Hire, check out Rehome Your Leftovers to find out how to recycle them (it's really easy). If you have a machine in the office, you should be recycling them there too.
ARE THERE ANY GREENER ALTERNATIVES TO CORREX?
The best alternative is Ram Board, also available from Get Set Hire, which is made of 100% recycled materials and is fully recyclable as cardboard. However it is manufactured in the US and flown in, so has a significant carbon footprint for a consumable item. Ram Board comes in 30.5 metre rolls, 1 roll being equivalent to 12.7 sheets of Correx, length wise. It also comes with its own paper type tape, to seal the seams for a neat finish, and the edges also fold up along perforated lines to protect skirting boards. Price wise it's £45 per roll plus £5.50 for the tape (1 roll of tape for 1 roll of Ram Board). It is slightly more expensive than Correx would've been at £3.25 per sheet, meaning it comes out at £1.13 a sq m compared to Ram Board’s £1.50 (plus tape). Any unused board on the roll can be kept for your next shoot or full unused rolls can be sent back to Get Set Hire for a refund. If you are using correx, you can ask for used pieces, and send back any decent ones for reuse by other productions.
WHAT ABOUT FACILITIES?
It's always worth factoring in where your facilities (dining bus, honey wagon etc) are coming from, as the closer they are to location the less fuel emissions they'll produce getting to your shoot, and the less money you'll pay in base to base charges too. Find out where their bases are in advance of your shoot. There are also some solar options too, like At Your Convenience's solar powered honey wagon which will save you £8/hr in genny fuel! Email Del for more details.
WHAT IS OFFSETTING?
Offsetting is essentially replacing the amount of carbon you have released into the atmosphere with an amount of oxygen to counterbalance it. One of the main ways to offset is to plant trees, which take in and store carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
COOL, SO WE CAN JUST DO THAT INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT DOING OTHER GREEN STUFF?
Offsetting should be the last resort, to offset only the unavoidable carbon emissions, once you’ve done everything in your power to reduce the impact of your shoot. This could be unavoidable travel to and from set or location, and emissions from the power consumed on the shoot day (unless you’re getting your power from renewables of course!). You should always try to reduce any possible emissions in the first instance.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PROJECTS TO SUPPORT AND HOW DO WE DO IT?
We recommend Carbon Aware Productions (CAP) who work with the Woodland Trust to plant trees. CAP have found them to be the most credible source of tree plantation in the UK, and also believe that carbon generated in the UK should also be offset in the UK. Under their supervision, your woodland captures and stores carbon as trees reseed and grow over the years. They can even tell you exactly where the trees are planted if you want to pop down and bask in it’s shady canopy (after a few years!).
HOW DO WE KNOW HOW MUCH WE NEED TO OFFSET?
CAP have been calculating the carbon footprint of shoots since 2009 and have found many productions fall in to an average emission. They use the National Energy Foundation Carbon Calculator 2014 for the calculation of carbon output from travel and power consumption. There are two options, normal and large, defined by the amount of facility vehicles you have, and the size of generator. Normal equates to 1 tonne of carbon per shoot day, and large as two tonnes. Each tonne (1000kg) is offset by 1 tree. A young tree will absorb about 6 kg of CO₂ per year, and a mature tree (10 years old) will absorb around 22 kg per year.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
CAP charge £25 per normal shoot day, and £50 per large shoot day. A three day normal shoot will therefore cost you £75, and so on. You can of course offset more than you think you think you’ve emitted - think of it like paying some debts for previous shoots! More trees are never a bad thing. You’ll also get a PDF certificate showing your offsetting commitment, and proving your tree planting donation. You could send this to your client or even include it with your call sheet when you email it out, to highlight your efforts in offsetting unavoidable emissions.
OK, SO HOW TO WE DO IT?
Head to CAP and select your shoot type, number of days, and pay via card on their site. It takes about 2 minutes.
More info coming soon about how to offset specific items such as unavoidable flights.