January Reel Green Meeting Recap
February 13, 2019
Members from across the motion picture industry in the Lower Mainland gathered in January to for the Reel Green Meeting. Read more to discover what topics were explored at this meeting.

This meeting hosted a guest speaker from Quest University Canada, Samantha Leigh, a student and researcher. Samantha who presented her paper, "Okay, What’s up with Compostable Plastics: Key Information to Know Before Choosing Your Products" which you can find here on Reelgreen.ca. 

The meeting was filled with thoughtful discussion on compostable plastics and waste. Some key points that were addressed in this discussion were:

  • Compostable plastics are confusing because:

    • They look like petroleum plastics, causing consumers to dispose of them incorrectly into recycling or landfill-destined streams.

    • There are many Green-Labelled products that are not truly compostable in Vancouver, which cause problems when they end up at local composting facilities.

    • They are not accepted in residential (home) compost streams but are sometimes accepted in commercial streams, causing confusion at disposal.

  • To be accepted by composting facilities, compostable plastic products must:

    • Be certified by ISO, ASTM, BPI, or another internationally-recognized third-party testing body for material compostability.

    • Be verified as compostable by the facility and explicitly approved in the contract between the businesses and the composting facility.

    • Not be accompanied by contaminants such as non-food waste or petroleum plastics.

  • If the facility does not accept compostable plastics:

    • Use fibre products such as wood, bagasse, and bamboo because they are accepted by and degrade in industrial composting facilities.

    • Do NOT purchase or supply compostable plastics to your customers. If they cannot be composted, these products must go to landfill because they are not currently recycled.

    • Work with the facility and local government to improve regulations that allow facilities to accept certain types of compostable plastics.

Some meeting participants offered up resources and anecdotes to help with the conundrum of compostable plastics. 

  • Metro Vancouver recommends the use of reusable foodware; pilot reusable container program

  • The City of Metro Vancouver also needs to consider the number of uses: for single-use reduction strategy – cups, bags, take out containers; cutlery – the City is in the process of looking at what is the best strategy

  • Recognition that proper signage is critical to reducing contamination and promoting standardization;

Mini Bins which is a local waste hauling company offered some points on this topic which included:

  • Organizations need to consider the business process of haulers and how reduction strategies impact their line of work. They iterated the challenges for finding any market for contaminated products, highlighting the importance to have non-contaminated streams from the getgo. 

  • Coffee cups – an audit revealed that coffee cups make up approximately 50% of landfill material

  • Minibins also offered information on their newest bin which is a multi-stream location bin that is a prototype built from feedback specifically from the motion picture industry. Productions can decide how much they want to recycle; compost; throw out; can give individual weight for each bin; double the size of old bins; will price for waste;

Key Takeaways from the compost and contamination discussion were:

  • If you have a common contaminant, make a sign that addresses it directly.  

  • Do not put compostable plastics in the recycling. If facilities do not currently accept compostable plastics, do not use them. Instead, use fibre products, or second best, recyclable products.

  • Best to use reusable products, then wood or paper products, then certified compostable plastic - but at this point, we don’t know that compostable plastic will actually get composted.

  • No one is sorting your stuff - Make sure it is properly sorted prior to pick up so that there is no contamination

Ideas that were offered in order to move forward:

  • It would be helpful to have a collective statement when people ask what should I do with my material?

  • Make a best practices statement for purchasing, life cycle, and outcome.

  • Introduce contamination pricing.

From here the conversation moved to fuel and fuel reduction which included members from Teamsters 155 and Portable Electric. Some points that were made amongst participants were:

  • Outlining that the biggest consumer of fuel in production are generators.

  • The lack of chargers for electric vehicles poses problems logistically.

  • Concerns and challenges raised on how electric vehicles are not as good for location-based shows as there are not chargers on location and many shows are moving further out into the valley.

  • The challenge that there are not very many electric vehicles in rental fleets. 

  • The challenge that costs for greening a production is seen as a deterrent.

Next steps that were identified from the discussion on fuel reduction were:

  • The need for more hybrid vehicles and advocacy to suppliers on this. 

  • The need for more charging stations at studio lots (BC Hydro will be offering a workplace incentive). 

  • Reinforce that there is a no-idling law across BC

  • To find uses for electric generators

We hope to see you at the next Reel Green Meeting where members of the industry can collaborate on ideas for a more sustainable method of doing production! 

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