Sustainability in TV & film production

sustainable film production

The nature of TV, film & commercial production can easily be considered an unsustainable practice. After all, it’s no secret that a substantial amount of energy is required throughout the production process – from lighting and transport, right down to paper and plastic.

Sustainability in the production industry has become a popular topic, and rightly so. Here at Sugar Free TV, we understand the impact our work can have on the environment, but we also recognise that a lot more that can be done in the filming industry to reduce its carbon footprint as a whole.

As a service production company who cares about the environment, we’ve put the time and energy into incorporating more sustainable habits into our shoots as we move towards a greener way of working.

Committed to the cause, our production staff have recently completed AdGreen Sustainable Production Training to ensure our whole team are fully clued up on best practices. AdGreen specialises in sustainability training within the UK production industry, and the knowledge we’ve gained from this course has been invaluable.

We’ll share some of the steps we’ve taken towards eco-friendly production, and hope that it inspires others to follow suit.

Minimising paper usage

We’re going paperless (where possible).

Storyboards, scripts, schedules, call sheets – they’re all integral parts of the production process, but do they really need to be printed out? We’ve made it our mission to have all of these documents digitally accessible to cast and crew for every shoot.

Any contracts and documents that require a signature are sent digitally, signed via e-signature and submitted via email.

There are, of course, times where printing is necessary but on these occasions, we ensure that only the required pages are printed, and any documents are recycled post-shoot.

‘Zero plastic’ shoots

Whilst it’s important to stay hydrated on set, this can often lead to an excessive amount of empty, or even half empty, water bottles at the end of a shoot. For this reason, we’ve eliminated single use plastic on set as an attempt to enforce ‘zero plastic’ shoots.

Instead, we’re actively encouraging cast & crew to bring their own reusable water bottles and fill them up using the water coolers provided. Similarly, whilst we all enjoy that mid-shoot pick-me-up, we’ve discouraged the use of takeaway coffee cups in favour of reusable cups where possible.
It goes without saying that having your own drinkware to hand also means there’s less chance of misplacing it and mixing it up with others on set, so that’s been a great added benefit too.

There are of course instances where providing a reusable cup isn’t always possible – therefore, we ensure we work closely with our caterers to ensure any single use drinkware required on set is 100% biodegradable.


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Reducing waste

We’re putting all of our emphasis on ‘reduce, reuse, rehome and recycle’.

We’ve upped our recycling game both on set and in the production office. We’ve made recycling bins readily available with protocols in place to ensure that all recyclable and non-recyclable waste is correctly separated and disposed of appropriately.

Similarly, we’re making an effort to conserve resources where possible. Too often we see fresh food going to waste after a day on set, but we’re taking steps to limit this on every shoot. The key to this is to identify any food that may be leftover by the end of the day, to give us plenty of chance to rehome it.

The same rules apply to props and wardrobe. Any garment, props or large items will either be reused, rehomed or donated to a local charity.

Energy consumption

With the nature of our work, doing everything possible to reduce our energy consumption is crucial. From pre-production right through to on set and inside our office premises, we’re making a conscious effort to identify any inefficient energy processes and improve on them.

Effective changes can be as simple as making the switch from HMI to more energy-efficient lighting such as LED film lighting, should it be suitable for the production. The smallest changes, such as ensuring that local power supplies are used in favour of generators can make every difference to the overall carbon footprint of a production.

We’ve also introduced more on set protocols to ensure that if something isn’t in use, it gets switched off – from laptop chargers to printers, a lot of power can be forgotten about on set. Policing this more effectively is especially important during lunch breaks and of course, at the end of the day.
Our team have experience working with a wide range of design codes including British Standards, Eurocode, ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), API (American Petroleum Institute), DNV (Det Norske Veritas), and more.


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Transport considerations

Even though the COVID 19 pandemic meant we have learned to adapt to remote attendance and smaller crew sizes, not all productions can be actioned via remote shooting.

Offering service production packages across the North and North West means that travelling comes with the territory. Travelling from Manchester to Liverpool or Yorkshire and back can have a huge impact on our carbon footprint, and we’re aware that the nature of one-off shoots can be a major contributor to pollution.

In a bid to minimise toxic emissions, we’ve enlisted the help of transport fleets to ensure teams can travel together, reducing the number of vehicles travelling to and from the location. Hiring local crews is also a top priority, to minimise the distance needed to travel.
Our team also ensures that rail travel is being utilised a lot more than it previously was, when travelling to locations for recess etc. where possible.

We’re always conscious of our contribution to air pollution in local areas wherever we’re filming, so we’ve put strict measures in place to ban idling vehicles on set to reduce this.

Sugar Free TV will continue to ensure that its sustainable management of productions complies with the British Film Institute’s BS8909 standard, and will continually measure and improve on our processes.


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Find out more about our commitment to meeting sustainability standards in our Environmental Policy.

Looking for a sustainable service production company to work with on your next project? Sugar Free TV is one of Manchester’s leading service production companies, specialising in facilitating commercial video production and stills shoots.

Get in touch with us, we’d love to hear from you!


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