FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We know it can be a bit confusing to know where to focus your energies, and how to make meaningful changes - the answers below will help demystify things a little. And if you have a question you’d like answered, get in touch
Please note the information below may need to be adjusted as per any Covid-19 measures you are taking.
|THE BASICS||DATA STORAGE AND MANAGEMENT|
|COST IMPLICATIONS||GETTING THE RIGHT SUPPLIES|
|RECYCLING & WASTE||CARBON OFFSETTING|
|PRINTING & INSURANCE|
I WANT TO REDUCE THE IMPACT OF MY PRODUCTION, WHERE DO I START?
Start as early as you can, and look at the resources relevant to where you are in the production process.
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 kilos or tonnes). Different activities expend different amounts of carbon. 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. Our friends over at albert, working predominantly with film and TV, have been measuring the industry’s impact for the past few years and now know that approximately 9.17 tonnes of CO2 are expended in the making of one hour of broadcast content (as of 2019), with huge differences between genres and types of productions.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTORS TO OUR FOOTPRINT?
Until we have more data from advertising, we can refer to albert’s data, which clearly shows 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 - as well as shooting close to home and using local crew and cast.
WHAT DOES THE GREENEST SHOOT EVER LOOK LIKE?
That would be one that tries to reduce its transport and energy needs in the first place (ideally at script stage), 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!
WHO'S BEHIND ADGREEN?
You can find out more about AdGreen's team and advisory board here.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED WITH ADGREEN?
Follow our social channels (Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) and sign up for our newsletter to get details about new tools and resources, plus invites to our events, and contact us here if you have a question, horror story, great charity for our rehoming page or a case study.
DOES IT COST MORE MONEY TO REDUCE YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT?
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. Using local crew or shooting closer to home (or at home) will reduce travel costs, accommodation and per diems. Using less energy in the studio (by either using less lights or more efficient ones) will also cost you less in electricity units.
When it comes to reducing waste on set, 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. We would also recommend adding the following lines to your budget template as standard:
-> SECTION H (Art Dept) or SECTION I (Studio): Sustainable construction materials
-> SECTION H (Art Dept): Sustainable set breakdown
-> SECTION I (Studio) & SECTION J (Location): Recycling & composting of shoot waste
-> SECTION J (Location): Location protection
-> SECTION J (Travel): Train fares
-> SECTION J (Travel): Flight offsetting (allowing 3-5% of the total flight budget is usually adequate but you can use this site for reference N.B. it’s in EUR)
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 SHOOT 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 (e.g. a KeepCup, Frank Green cup etc) 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?
Some caterers offer these, 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 Locamats, and if not available, Ramboard - 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. 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. Ask your lighting team 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, but you do have a duty to make sure everyone has access to a copy so make sure it's emailed to everyone attending including cast, client, agency etc.
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 can be 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.
DATA STORAGE AND MANAGEMENT
ON-SET DIGITAL DATA MANAGEMENT
Back up all shoot data to two identical sets of drives; one set used in the post-production workflow and the second copies kept secure in a different building.
Buy the highest quality external hard drives you can (Enterprise is best) with the latest connectors and cables (USB-C or Thunderbolt 3). The drives and cables are faster, move data much quicker, use less energy and are much more reliable.
Using good quality drives means you can reuse and recycle your drives from one project to the next; it not only saves on buying new drives but can also save you costs on every shoot you do.
Always keep all the drives cables (power and data) with the drives so the next user is not buying extra replacement cables. It's hugely wasteful.
When transferring the large files of completed master use a service that is either end to end ‘direct transfer technology’ or short-term hosting that will delete the files after a set period (We Transfer). It’s really is easy to leave files online for long periods without realising and this creates lots of CO2.
Try to minimise use of the cloud as much as possible when moving and storing rushes – it’s a big global polluter and the data we capture on set is huge, therefore uploading and downloading data from the cloud creates tons of CO2 each time.
LONG TERM STORAGE BEST PRACTICE
For long term archiving – ie data you need to keep for years, make sure this is not kept on ‘The Cloud’ or any form of constantly spinning disk storage, internal servers or mirrored online storage; These all use massive amounts of energy (and therefore create tons of CO2), and that’s unnecessary for data you will rarely access.
Avoid using external hard drives for long term storage. They will eventually die (12% in the first 4 years) and are not meant to be used once and then left in a cupboard for years. It’s a huge waste of the earth resources to use hard drives in this way. They are meant to be used for thousands of re-writes and for at least five years before they retire. After that make sure you recycle them properly.
LTO is the industry standard for long-term archiving, it has a 30-year shelf life and once the tapes are written they use almost no energy to store. It’s currently the safest and lowest carbon methodology to store film data for the long term, with recovery guaranteed. You can do this in-house or use an industry service supplier. Make sure you have two copies on LTO and keep them in separate buildings.
The key elements to effective long-term archiving are guaranteed recovery and storing in a low carbon way. Make sure you store your data responsibly otherwise that piece of work you made might just be creating tons of CO2 for years to come, not a legacy you want to create!
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, make sure there's a plumbed-in cooler at the studio, or a cooler or water pump if you're on location. Table top coolers are 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. 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. 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.
WHAT ABOUT BOXED WATER?
One alternative to water coolers is boxed water where both the cardboard box and inner plastic liner are recyclable. Coolers would be preferable as the water containers are sent back and reused, but if it's a smaller, on the go shoot this may be a good alternative - as long as you are sending your shoot waste to be recycled.
WHAT ABOUT DRINKING WATER?
Drinking water is of course fine to offer up to shoot attendees as well as (or instead of) water coolers. Ask your location in advance if it's ok to use the kitchen tap, and hire a couple of jugs to use in the client area. If you're shooting out on the streets, then the Refill app may come in handy! Use it to identify drinking water sources all over the UK: mainly cafes and restaurants which have agreed to let the public refill bottles.
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 hierarchy (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?
Yes! Locamats are a reusable alternative, simply hire, put down, and have them collected at the end of the shoot. This will also significantly reduce your waste (and therefore waste removal costs). Another option is Ramboard, 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 shipped over to the UK, so has a significant carbon footprint for a consumable item. However, Correx is also shipped in, but from China. 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. 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.
If you'd like to read about Ram Board in action, check out these case studies.
WHAT ABOUT HAND WARMERS?
If you mean those things that go in pockets that are used once and thrown away, ditch em. Go for a hot water bottle instead.
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 and fuel charges too. There are also some solar options too, like At Your Convenience's solar powered honey wagon which will save you on 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 over their lifetime.
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 making a piece of advertising. 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). 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?
In due course we will be providing information on this, in line with albert's Creative Offsets programme.