Vancouver, BC. - Television has a profound effect – we are entertained, engaged and excited to see what the next episode brings. The credits that scroll at the end of a show are an indication of the hundreds of people and resources needed to create it. There are many logistics involved with producing a TV show and inevitably a footprint is left, including waste.
In Vancouver today, the thought of waste is ever present. If you've walked around the city or taken public transit lately, you may have noticed the posters about the new organics ban that started on January 1, 2015. “Hey! Food isn't garbage!” they proclaim. Both the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver regional district banned food scraps from disposal as garbage – a bold step toward making Vancouver the Greenest City by 2020.
With film and television as a key sector in Vancouver, according to the Vancouver Economic Commission, they must be scrambling to figure out how to comply with the new ban, right?
“Actually,” said Mike Slavich, Sustainability Director at Warner Bros., “productions have been successfully recycling and composting in Vancouver for years, thanks to the commitment of our crews and the cooperation of local business partners.”
Five Warner Bros. shows filming in Vancouver, BC: "iZombie," "The Flash," "The 100," "Supernatural," "Arrow." Images courtesy of Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. is presently the biggest studio client in town with five shows in production in the Vancouver Metro area. “The 100,” a sci-fi drama series, “Arrow” and “Supernatural,” both sci-fi action series, have been filming here for a while now. “iZombie,” a sci-fi horror series, and “The Flash,” a sci-fi action series, are the newest local productions for Warner Bros.
“Each crew nominates a ‘Green Lead’ to spearhead sustainable practices for their production,” said Slavich. “Collectively, they address common challenges, like waste reduction, and develop ways to make physical production more efficient.”
“The 100” is in its second season, but their Green Lead, Aren Ophoff, has years of sustainable production experience. “We always recycled on ‘Smallville,’ then, when I moved onto ‘The Secret Circle’ in 2011, we started to collect compost too,” said Ophoff. “Now both practices are pretty standard, diverting tons of materials from landfills each season.”
Departments within a production also work together to solve for waste reduction challenges. “Our Catering, Locations and Transportation Departments teamed up with us to create a system to collect and transport recycling and composting from locations to our home base at North Shore Studios,” said Kelsey Evans, Green Lead for “iZombie.” “This reduced Catering’s trash bags filled on locations from 14 bags per day to just one bag, and we are now collecting three yards of recycling and six yards of compostable materials per month.”
“iZombie” sets up recycling and composting bins on location then transports materials back to the studio in sealed containers. At the North Shore Studios, they have their own 2 Yard Bin for organics collection.
Fawn McDonald has led the green production efforts on the hit series “Arrow” since their first season. “In addition to recycling and composting, it’s important to reuse and reduce waste in the first place,” said McDonald. “For example, last season we avoided 80,882 disposable plastic water bottles through reuse – this also resulted in considerable savings.”
“Arrow” reduces waste by collecting compost and providing water coolers to cast and crew, rather than cases of disposable plastic water bottles.
Warner Bros.’ shows do more than just watch their waste; they also help in our local community. In 2014 for the second year in a row, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank has had a REEL Thanksgiving Challenge, in which shows filming in the area can compete to donate food and money to help the food bank. All Warner Bros.’ shows participated, with the cast and crew of “Arrow” leading the competition!
“Vancouver is well suited for green production” said Slavich. “The local crews are passionate about their work while also being committed to their environment. It’s cultural and we are happy to be part of this creative and innovative community.”
All businesses and residences will need to incorporate organics into their recycling system by June 30th or face fines. Warner Bros. is already on board with the ban and leading by example.
Audiences can feel good when watching their favorite Warner Bros. Television show knowing that the studio, cast and crew are doing their part to recycle and compost, all of which is helping Vancouver on its quest to be the Greenest City by 2020.
Written by: Aza O'Leary & Zena Harris