The Plastic Waste in the UK Film & TV Industry: A Horror Movie


The Screen New Deal report revealed that a film with a budget of over US$70 million shoots 2,840 tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere. That’s the same climate change impact of burning over 3 million pounds of coal

Back in 2009, the London screen production industry roughly had the same carbon footprint of 24,000 homes.

The amount of plastic waste used on film and TV sets is contributing to this carbon burden. That’s because plastic consumption drives the demand for fossil fuels.

Waiting for the government to ban all single-use plastic in the UK[1] , Simply Stem embarked on a “mission possible”. 

We want to put an end to the not-so-special effects of plastic waste on film and TV productions.

So, let’s cut to how the entertainment industry is handling plastic in the UK.

The UK film & TV industry (moving) picture

There’s no doubt Blue Planet put a spotlight on the plastic pollution crisis. Narrated by David Attenborough and aired on BBC, it was the most-watched TV series of 2017.

Driven by the show’s heads up on plastic waste, BBC pledged to ban single-use plastic from all its UK sites by 2020. Besides glasses, cutlery and containers used in their canteens and kitchens, the British broadcaster targeted the 2 million cups used by their visitors and staff every year.

But what about their shooting sets?

The set construction of a blockbuster movie can generate up to 1,000 tonnes of waste, including disposable poly bags needed for protecting costumes. These single-use plastic bags end up either in landfills or in the ocean. 

A Plastic Ocean, the documentary released by Netflix in 2019, gave us an enlightening yet horrific snapshot of the plastic pollution impact on the ocean. Plastic bags never fully degrade but release polluting microplastics in the environment.

Yet, Simply Stem came to the rescue! 

Our plastic-free home compostable garments covers replaced the disposable plastic bags used in many shows costume departments.

A more sustainable costume protection helps productions achieve the Albert certification. Albert is the leading authority on environmental sustainability for the UK film & TV industry.

Since 2014, in collaboration with BAFTA, Albert has supported over 500 film production companies in the UK in implementing zero carbon and zero waste strategies.

For instance, the organisation encouraged productions in using compostable plates and cups for catering and reusable water bottles. 

However, when assessing the environmental sustainability of the UK productions in 2020, the British Film Institute (BFI) suggested there’s still much work to be done.

The End (of the plastic drama)

As you can see, plastic pollution is also hunting the UK film & TV industry.

So, who you gonna call?

Simply Stem!

As a UK plastic buster, we’re using our compostable packaging to remove the plastic from TV and film sets.

We’ve recently joined forces with the compostable packaging company TIPA to apply our solutions to the problems with plastic waste in the entertaining sector.

Plastic screen time is coming to an end!

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