New Sustainability Standard Heralded by UK Film Industry

It is often very difficult to think of corporate responsibility beyond the realm of corporations. However when you really do think about it, the concepts of CSR are applicable to just about every form of enterprise. This is what the British Standards Institution (BSI) in conjunction with the British film industry wanted to emphasize when it announced that it is taking the lead in the global entertainment market. The new British Standard unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival will improve the industry’s environmental, social and economic impact.

The BS 8909 standard is the ‘sustainability management’ standard that has been introduced in the film industry. it covers aspects from production through to cinema exhibition and home entertainment that helps companies focus on how their activities impact the environment, the communities they work in and their wider economic influence.

BS 8909 can be applied across the film supply chain from planning to production, through to editing, distribution, screening and archiving. The standard aims from merely ‘going green’ to becoming a method through which filmmakers can interact with communities where they film. It aims to put stakeholder engagement at the forefront and is aiming to be the industry best practice and a standard to be adopted by the film industry.

Colin Firth’s ethical retail organization Eco Age has played an integral role in the launch of the standard. They have run three of the pilot schemes and are offering support and guidance to the pioneering organizations who have adopted the standard. Ealing Studios, Dogwoof and the BFI are among these early takers.

Adopting the standard means that a films environmental and social impact is reduced and its wider economic benefits are maximized. Some of the recommendations of the standard include:

  • Reduction of carbon emissions by rethinking travel arrangements. These include measures like improved route planning, adopting more sustainable means of transport etc.
  • Establishment of clear guidelines to minimize the impact of the filming schedule on local communitites. Measures under these include limiting hours of work, notifying communities early on, parking arrangements etc.
  • By hiring local people and sourcing local props, the standard aims to ensure that communities benefit from film activities.

Considering that in 2009, in  London alone, screen production accounted for 125,000 tonnes of carbon emissions (40% of which came from studios and 28% from TV and film production) a standard to ensure that this is tackled in a more holistic manner is something that is very much needed. Once the standard is established in Britain, perhaps moves should be made for it to migrate across the Atlantic to Hollywood studios and then onto Bollywood.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net