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Lights, Camera... Waste Diversion

Jonathan Mariano headshotWords by Jonathan Mariano
Energy & Environment

Imagine you are a commercial video production company striking a set.  You are in a time crunch, so the easiest thing to do is throw everything away, even perfectly (re)usable goods.

EcoSet solves the problem of diverting waste produced from film sets.  Instead of a final resting place at the landfill, EcoSet finds a happy home for these goods.

You may remember TriplePundit covered a “behind the scenes” look at a Target commercial shoot, where EcoSet coordinated sustainability efforts.  Recently, I took a peek at the “behind” the “behind the scenes.”

The warehouse
I had a chance to see EcoSet’s new warehouse space.  Instead of scrambling to divert waste at the end of a shoot, EcoSet can now store goods for donation in this new space.

EcoSet held it’s “Giving Back” event, inviting several local non-profits to their warehouse.  These non-profits would receive donated goods, all of which came from Target's commercial shoots.  Most of the goods were in good condition, if not new.  Imagine all this good stuff going to the trash?  Instead these goods are being diverted.

Re-directing to non-profits
Despite the quality of the goods, nothing acquired from the commercial shoot is sold.  Most goods are donated to non-profit organizations.

The Boys and Girls Club of Burbank is one of the non-profits that received needed items such as sports equipment, toys, pencils, and paper.

“We distribute the needed program items, to our programs to be used for our afterschool programming. We provide arts and crafts at 16 of our locations,” says Jeudy Mom, Resource Development Coordinator, for the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank, “Program supplies like paper, sports equipment, pencils, etc are always in need.”
Post “post production”
Most of the goods at the storage warehouse can most likely be found brand new at Target.  But there were other items not necessarily shot in the commercial, but used to produce the commercial, also diverted from the landfill.

I saw storyboards, gaffers tape, expensive film gels, styrofoam, wood blocks, to name a few, all thwarted from the trash.  EcoSet sought to account for every little morsel.

“I cannot tell you how many rolls of bubble wrap I receive that would be thrown away without EcoSet.  Yet, I can make one post on Craigslist, Freecycle and have 15 responses from locals that would love to have it,” says Amy Hammes, Donations Coordinator for EcoSet Consulting.

Sometimes, there are items used in production that just can’t be stored in a warehouse.  “A few weeks ago there was a beach set up in a sound stage. We had to find a recipient, delivery and clean up for 60 tons of sand!” exclaims Hammes. “This was brand new, clean sand and, had Target not hired us, the production company would have sent it to landfill.  We donated it to a wildlife sanctuary that was thrilled to receive since they have to buy sand quite often.”

The final cut
So how much waste is EcoSet helping Target to divert?  “Through comprehensive composting and recycling, Target broadcast productions divert an average of 85 percent of waste from landfills,” says Jenna Reck of Target.  “EcoSet ensures at the end of a shoot that all materials that can be are composted, recycled, repurposed or donated.”

Imagine of more and more commercials did work similar to what EcoSet does for Target commercials , how much waste could be diverted across the commercial filming industry?

[Image Credits: Jonathan Mariano]

Jonathan Mariano headshotJonathan Mariano

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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