o p i n i o n “The future of all life now depends on us” The cinema industry isn’t alone in impacting on the environment, but we’re in a privileged position to drive change, argues CT production editor Alastair Balmain
ell it’s a pretty stark headline,
deliveries, lighting and lamps, transport connections to
but those words actually belong to
venues, construction materials, posters, water use — what in
Sir David Attenborough — and if you
our world wouldn’t benefit from thoughtful technological
haven’t seen the final episode of his
solutions to help reduce our impact?
“Blue Planet II” series, do watch it. The
Soon after the plastic straw hullabaloo, Starbucks
footage of marine life is staggering, but the scenes of man-
proudly announced a new range of strawless plastic lids.
made waste and pollutants choking our oceans are decidely
Though it sounds like robbing plastic Peter to pay plastic
sobering. Thanks to that documentary, our blinkers have
Paul, given the recyclable nature of the new lid’s materials,
been removed and, rather belatedly, the world can now see
it is arguably a step forward. More impressive is Starbuck’s
why a plastic drinking straw is the devil’s own utensil.
$10million investment in the NextGen Cup Challenge,
As a consequence, corporations are eager to show how
which seeks to develop a fully recyclable and compostable
responsible they are. Disney, for example, has commendably
hot cup — but this is a topic that really shouldn’t be driven by
announced plans to eliminate single-use plastic straws and
PR positivity. Fluff it up, call it corporate social responsibility if
stirrers at all its owned and operated locations by the
you like, but this is a simple case of doing the right thing.
middle of next year. That’s encouraging for Nemo, but the
As a species, we’re addicted to consumption, but if a
issue goes further — and our industry can lead on this. On
trip to our venues is as influential as we tell everyone it is,
pages 30-35, we explore some of the ways in which it does.
especially to younger visitors, then we must be demonstrably
There are myriad commercial, financial and logistical
responsible about buckets, straws, cups and wrappers. At
reasons with which we can defend the use of packaging in
CineEurope in June, Coca-Cola showcased its reduce, re-
the F&B sector, but we must acknowledge that to sustain
use, recycle campaigns. This, and initiatives like them, are a
our businesses, the concessions stands alone generate a
huge start. Cinema’s place should be in the vanguard of the
sizeable amount of waste. Do we as an industry care
circular economy, not facilitating a throwaway culture. For
sufficiently about the resources we use, or is this merely the
every customer who jettisons a non-recyclable plastic-lined
collateral damage of our business? And what has this got to
cup three foot from a bin, there’s five more who’d happily
do with cinema technology…? Well, if ever there was a case
choose to drink from a re-useable, returnable, recyclable
for the application of inspiring technological solutions, the
glass or cup — if only they were encouraged to do so.
reduction of our impact on the environment is clearly it.
If you believe the object of this column is to make our
To labour a slightly heavy-handed metaphor, plastic
industry feel immensely guilty, you’re wrong. It’s a reminder
straws are the tip of the iceberg. Air conditioning, hard drive
that cinemas are in a prime position to help effect change.
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