Film and TV giants are phasing out red meat, ditch plastic bottles and save energy

Netflix, Warner Bros. and Sky are among the businesses to have received praise for taking action on environmental issues such as plastics, food waste and energy efficiency.

All MPA members have backed the new commitments

All MPA members have backed the new commitments

The Motion Picture Association (MPA) this week praised member businesses and others for removing single-use plastic water bottles from productions and production facilities; donating all surplus food from catering to those in need; re-using props, costumes and furniture, or else donating them to non-profits; and switching to energy-efficient LED lighting.

The MPA said it has also seen an uptick in the number of firms reducing the amount of red meat served during production catering and replacing it with other proteins. The Oscars and BAFTA have both taken note of the environmental impact of red meat, opting to serve plant-based menus at their events this year.

Research has repeatedly proven that red meat has a higher carbon footprint than poultry or plant-based proteins, and that the cattle industry is at risk of issues such as deforestation and modern slavery in supply chains. Indeed, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) believes that meeting the UK’s net-zero target will require red meat consumption to fall by 20% on a per-capita basis over the next three decades.

The praise was given at the Berlin International Film Festival, where a new Declaration on environmental sustainability was launched. 

The Declaration states that signatories will "work with scientists and policy-makers to develop and carry out specific, viable measures to efficiently and permanently reduce the negative environmental impacts of the production of films and television series, to the greatest degree possible." 

All MPA member studios have signed the Declaration. They are Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Netflix; Paramount Pictures Corporation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal City Studios and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Other signatories include Public Service and Commercial Broadcasters, the German Producers Alliance and Sky, which, earlier this year, set a 2030 net-zero commitment. In total, 30 organisations have signed. 

Aside from addressing the operational environmental footprint of the film and TV industry, the Declaration acknowledges the ways in which businesses in this sector can drive change externally, through the narratives of their broadcasting, their communications campaigns and their touch-points with policymakers.

“Few issues could be more compelling than the dangers that climate change poses to all of us,” MPA chairman Charlie Rivkin said.

“With the stories that we are capable of bringing to the screen and the ways that we conduct ourselves as an industry, we have it in our power to make a difference… As an industry with the storytelling power to move hearts across cultures, we have the ability to reach billions around the globe. We can shine a powerful light both onscreen and behind the camera on this important issue.”

Flip the script

The MPA’s two-pronged approach, covering the industry’s environmental footprint but also its “brainprint” – the ways in which it can affect hearts and minds outside of its own four walls – is similar in structure to that used by BAFTA.

BAFTA’s Albert arm provides businesses and individuals across the broadcasting sector with resources to help them not only minimise the environmental impacts of their operations, but change the narrative around sustainability issues.

On the latter of these pieces of work, Albert recommends that broadcasters “raise the issues” – incorporate environmental trends into their productions seamlessly – and "show the actions" – demonstrate to viewers that changes in mindsets, behaviours and policies can yield successful solutions.

TV shows certified by Albert include BBC Breakfast, EastEnders, The Great British Bake Off, Karl Pilkington’s Sick of It and Grand Designs. World War One drama 1917 this year became the first large-scale UK film to gain Albert certification.  

Sarah George



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