“Producers have the power to go green; there is no reason not to anymore,” says Lori McCreary, President of the Producers Guild of America and Executive Producer of the CBS hit show Madam Secretary. ‘OnMadam Secretary, we used the PGA’s greenproductionguide.com, a resource guide detailing financial and environmental benefits of going green. Having the City create the “NYC Film Green” designation adds an additional incentive for cast and crew to take pride in our efforts.”The voluntary initiative will encourage productions to engage in sustainable practices.
“Two years ago, New York City became the largest city in the world to commit to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer. “We are thrilled that NYC Film Green continues this leadership by making us the first city in the country to set such extensive energy conservation and waste reduction standards for the film and television industry, which keep us on the path to our ambitious OneNYC sustainability goals.”
“To achieve zero waste to landfills by 2030, we need innovative partnerships like NYC Film Green,” saidSanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “This effort will encourage TV and film productions to divert enormous amounts of waste, and protect the environment by conserving energy and resources. We applaud MOME on the creation of this program, and look forward to the important role our donateNYC program will play in this effort.”
“Protecting and improving the environment requires the commitment of all New Yorkers as well as all sectors of the economy,” said Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “Film and television is an integral part of our economy and we applaud the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for this innovative program which will help to reduce both the carbon footprint and waste stream of the productions.”
The environmental impact of producing just one film or episode of television can be extensive. Much of this impact comes from the creation of sets that are built and then quickly discarded, waste from on-set food catering, and the massive amount of energy required to power lights, cameras, and other equipment. According to a study conducted by UCLA, film and television production is a large source of carbon emissions, on par with industries such as clothing manufacturing and hospitality. Given the major impact that productions can make on both the local and global environment, NYC Film Green has the potential to set a global standard for the entertainment industry, benefitting not just New Yorkers, but the world at large. Moreover, the initiative will provide an opportunity for productions to formally highlight their green efforts and receive public recognition.
Based on data provided by six feature film productions that voluntarily worked to reduce their environmental impact, an average NYC Film Green feature production could divert over 60 percent of its waste, and prevent over 380 unnecessary tons of waste from going to the landfill. Similarly, based on data provided by five eco-conscious episodic series, an average NYC Film Green TV production could divert over 60 percent of its waste, preventing almost 45 unnecessary tons of waste from going to the landfill.
Using sustainable best practices in filming reduces productions’ negative impact on the environment, and as an added bonus, has been found to benefit productions’ bottom lines. According to a 2014 report from the Producers Guild of America, by eliminating disposable plastic water bottles and instead providing water coolers, reusable bottles, and compostable cups, a production can save approximately 50 percent on its total water budget over the course of a shoot. Donating set materials, rather than discarding them, can have a similar benefit. When the NBC television series 30 Rock broke down its set, it donated approximately 10.7 tons of material and in doing so, saved nearly $20,000 in hauling expenses.
A number of major New York City-based television productions have already engaged in voluntary sustainability efforts and reported great success in waste diversion. For example, over the course of production for the second season of CBS’s Madam Secretary, crew and staff successfully diverted 71 percent – or 62,495 pounds – of the show’s total waste. While 16,540 pounds of waste went to landfill, a total of 31,670 pounds went to compost, 8,324 pounds were recycled and 5,961 pounds of materials were donated. Madam Secretary donated over 4,500 meals to local shelters, and their paper diversion efforts saved the equivalent of 35 trees. The production also greatly reduced the use of disposable water bottles, eliminating waste from over 104,000 plastic bottles.
There is also a great amount of potential for waste diversion in feature film production. According to independent consultant Earth Angel, the “Made in NY” production The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was able to divert 52 percent of its waste from landfills, donated nearly 50 tons of materials for reuse on future productions, and donated nearly 6,000 meals to shelters and food banks. In total, the production saved approximately $400,000due to its sustainability efforts.