Everyone is willing and the solutions are available, we only need to connect with each other to share knowledge, to gain access to the right materials and to implement applications. That was the conclusion all those present on the evening of February 20th agreed on, at the end of an inspiring workshop on Sustainable Catering in BlueCity in Rotterdam. An enthusiastic group of caterers, location managers, producers and entrepreneurs came together to exchange ideas for a sustainable approach on set. And ideas were in abundance.
Sustainable Trade Fair
In the beautiful circular hall in the former tropical swimming paradise looking onto the river Maas, various suppliers and initiators had built a sustainable trade fair. Harm Bredero brought his new Setsink. Tijn Heerkens from Locatiewerk showed, among other things, his latest acquisition, an electric bicycle. Biofutura displayed a wide variety of different sustainable disposables. Food made from crickets was to be admired at Burgs Foods. Anne Stijkel promoted her sustainable financing model ‘Geld GROEN Wassen‘ (Wash Money Green). Stichting Buurtcompost brought 1000 worms in a special hotel to promote composting. The men of Wattsun drew a lot of attention with their stackable pop-up power elements. And the Rotterzwam initiative, which promotes the growth of oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds and is also based in BlueCity, showed a number of grow kits.
Before the start of the workshop, the participants had plenty of time to visit all the stalls and they did with great interest. At the same time, a delicious sustainable meal of quiches and salads was served by the BlueCity team. During this shared meal, ideas and experiences already started to bubble up.
“A lot is going to happen tonight!” Presenter Margreet Reijntjes opens the evening by welcoming all attendees and explains what is to be expected. Sustainability Manager Els Rientjes is the first speaker with an overview of the state of affairs on set. She starts with thanking two people. The workshop had invaluable input from caterers Sandra Hoffman and Esther Akkerhuis, who unfortunately could not be present due to illness. But so this event is Green Film Making’s first in Rotterdam. Els makes clear that caterers, location managers and producers / production managers together are the driving force to make a film set more sustainable. This trinity is responsible for logistics and if they do not work well together, good intentions often fail. This is why this time the focus is on catering, because here a lot of things intersect in terms of sustainability. The caterer has to deal with everything, purchasing, transport, energy, etc. It is a spider in the web.
But how is it going until now? The intentions are there, but it still often fails on set. People do not want to have to say ‘no’ and that means that too many items are brought on the set just to be secure. Production goes as fast as the weakest link and nobody wants to be that.
From experience, Els has noticed that everyone still thinks that working sustainably is expensive. That is really an illusion. If you start on time you are efficient and you really save on your budget. You must ensure that it is supported by the crew though. Everyone has to participate from his own expertise, so communicate about this and involve your crew.
Green Film Making has already done many tests on set, for example with tap water instead of plastic bottles, in collaboration with Joint he Pipe. Els asks who recently had to work on a set with plastic bottles and there are still a few. But more than half also report having worked with tap water recently, so we are well on our way. This indicates how important it is to do tests on the set. And the entrepreneurs of tonights’ sustainable market can offer even more innovations that make catering on the set more sustainable.
Where are we?
After the introduction by Els, Arabella of BlueCity tells something more about the special venue. Arabella works for the events team, is a tour guide at BlueCity and also an entrepreneur herself. The key word for BlueCity is transition. They face the same challenges as on the film set. We all deal with abundance and try to find solutions to deal with it in the right way. Changes that prevent you from feeling guilty when you have to throw things away. The BlueCity building itself also symbolizes reuse. The former swimming paradise Tropicana went bankrupt because the energy bill was too high. But the building proved not to be useless without the function of swimming pool. A group of entrepreneurs started in the building as a kind of anti-squat and dreamed how great it would be to give shelter to more entrepreneurs and to be able to think completely without any frameworks. Especially with a focus on waste flows and the closing of circles. And it’s going better and better, they are trying to create cycles and to make links between the different companies. The output of the one is the input of the other. So circular. An example of this is between the restaurant Alohabar and the company Rotterzwam that grow oyster mushrooms. There is a cycle between the coffee grounds of Aloha that grow the mushrooms that they can then use in their dishes again. We can also try it tonight with the oyster mushroom snacks that will be served with the drinks. With this kind of snack instead of one with meat, you save 15 liters of water for each one!
It is a puzzle and a challenge, changes do not come from one day to the next, but this year they want to become a complete zero waste location for events and offices. There is still room for improvement, for example with the portioning for catering. In this spirit, all those present can fill doggie bags at the end of the evening with the leftover food and take them home. Something that can also easily be done on set. Arabella wishes everyone a lot of inspiration.
Down in the Dirt
And then the evening shifted gears with the waste separation test led by Jurriën de Pijper and Cor Gerritsen of waste processor Renewi. A large number of boxes with different labels were lined up on a long table, a container with fresh waste was rolled in. The room becomes noisy and people rise from their seats. A request for volunteers did not stay unanswered for long. They were quickly hoisted in white coats. Arie of Buurtcompost, Sander of Burgs Food, production manager Milou and Wouter of Biofutura were certainly not afraid to dig through the container with waste from the kitchen of BlueCity. Arie on the condition that he could take all separated organic waste home for his worms. That was a deal!
The idea of the test is to get rid of the confusion about how to separate waste correctly and to show what could have been reused. Jurriën explains the underlying reason for this experiment. It is an anatomical lesson of the garbage bag. A zero waste expedition. Because how do you reach the ideal point of zero waste? By getting your hands dirty and looking at all the waste with your own eyes. This is the best way to get connected to the waste and see it’s value. Renewi’s aim is to upcycle as much waste as possible back to raw materials. There is a big difference between household waste and industrial waste though. At home people have started to separate waste, such as plastic, with the help of subsidies. But that is not the case with companies, especially because it is too expensive. However, if you keep the flows separate, you can also do it for big industries.
The volunteers are finding a lot in the bags; lard, scouring pads, detergent packaging and especially organic waste. Jurriën tells us that this experiment was also done at cultural institutions in Amsterdam in the Plantage neighborhood. The ambition there is to reach 87% of raw material extraction within 5 years. By means of this test, a special plan could be drawn up for each institution that corresponds to the waste streams of that specific location.
People wonder about different types of plastic, how to deal with them? That is a difficult question. There are many different types of plastic. A very large part of our plastic waste goes to China. But they now impose more stringent requirements. For example in the past, different colors of plastic foil could be mixed, but now that is no longer allowed. But separating everything and delivering it clean is almost never feasible.
There are no fixed rules for color coding when separating waste. Everyone can decide for themselves and that causes confusion. Margreet asks why there is no overarching legislation in Europe about the colors for separate collection. It would be easier, says Jurrien, but it does not happen. The Netherlands also does not give guidelines to municipalities on how to do it. Is there no role for the waste processors to handle this? They use the most common color coding, glass is yellow, green is organic, orange is plastics etc. That works for private individuals. But here too it is more difficult for companies.
Cor is very satisfied with the volunteers and would like to offer them a flex contract to perform every night. The contents of the bags also fit well with the catering theme. There is a lot of organic waste in the bin.
There is a solution in how you buy your own groceries at home to avoid waste. Fifteen percent of what we pay in the supermarket is for packaging. So you can start looking at packaging step by step, can I avoid it? Is it recyclable? In the past it was quite normal that you went to the Chinese takeaway with your own pan and that will definitely come back. It is possible to go zero waste, look at the example of Bea Johnson who, with her family of 4, generates only one jar of waste per year. Of course this is still an exception, zero waste is still an utopia for most of us. But according to Cor, it may be reality in 5 years time.
All waste has now been processed. Cor and Jurriën will weigh all boxes and see what the percentages are of the different types of waste to determine what can be reused and also what costs are involved. They will share the findings at the end of the evening.
Translation to the film set
When Jurriën and Cor disappear from the stage with their boxes and do their research behind the scenes, Els takes over the microphone again to explain what the situation of waste separation on the film set is.
Compared to two years ago, the caterers and producers present tonight already deserve a big compliment. Because it is now customary that you consult together in advance about purchasing and transport. Els is curious how far we are going to come in the film industry with controlling the various waste flows. Unfortunately, there are still caterers who buy everything pre-packaged at the Makro. Green Film Making has done waste separation tests at various productions. The outcome was that the crew was willing to cooperate and it gave a good spirit on the set. But there is still a lot to learn. Separating the waste can be done successfully, but the problem lies in the waste collection. We are not citizens, so it is not possible to give it with the household waste. And we are not a company either. So what do we do with it? There is an anecdote where Tijn was called at night, because a car from Locatiewerk was seen at a petrol station dumping bags. And if they could get paid.
Abroad it is going better, for example in Brussels. When you get funding from Screen Brussels, you also get a pass to get acces the underground bin system or you get bags with a film logo. If you call at the end of the day they will pick them up. If this could be introduced in every city in the Netherlands, that would be fantastic. Another example from Belgium comes from Wim Goossens from Box Rentals. He offers a cart with all trash bins with colored bags on it that you take along on a trailer. Then you do not have to rent a container at each location that has to be picked up again. A cart like this saves a lot of money. Another useful example is refilling and bulk packaging of Ecover cleaning products. If there are strategic locations of these refill packs, you save a lot of packaging. The tap water step has already been made. You can work with Jerry Carries on location. Els thinks that in a few years everyone will just have a bottle and nothing more will be bought or washed for water supply.
Panel discussion ‘Waste on set’
The example from Brussels shows that municipalities can play a major role in facilitating good waste disposal on the set. That is why both the film commissioners of Rotterdam, Saskia Kagchèl and The Hague, Ing Lim, have been invited for a panel together with Cor van Renewi, who is based in Amsterdam, to discuss this in detail.
First, the panel members are briefly introduced. Saskia says that her job is to remove as many obstacles and administrative hassle as possible during the average 800 shooting days a year that take place in Rotterdam. Otherwise productions will go somewhere else. According to Ing Lim it is important that as a city you are visible every now and then, otherwise you do not exist. He worked as a location manager for a long time and despite the fact that he misses traveling, he likes to work on a larger scale now. Cor van Renewi says that they mainly work for the 19 cultural institutions in the Plantagebuurt in Amsterdam to try to go collectively to zero waste in accordance with the municipal policy. This goes for the areas of technology, mobility and CO2 reduction, waste and raw materials. The film world could also fit in this model.
How is the situation now in Rotterdam? The responsibility lies with the crew itself, explains Saskia, there is no special policy of the municipality in the field of sustainability. They make no demands, in fact, you have to ask yourself to what extent facilitating always helps. On the one hand you can facilitate by offering power points or water points, but you can also go the other way and forbid people to pollute. You can set conditions if there are many shooting days and if you provide the subsidy yourself as a municipality, as in the example of Brussels. But a permit needs a yes or no from different departments, so that can not be arranged centrally.
What should our goal be in the area of waste? Ing Lim thinks that so far a solution has been found for waste, by location management. They order containers, but there is no separation. The end point is basically that an environmental zone is introduced, despite the fact that subsequently exemptions will be issued for it. But that will become less and less. Since the film sector is small, we have no leverage and will have to comply with the overarching legislation.
Shouldn’t all institutions and municipalities in the Netherlands ideally comply with the same rules? Els knows that there is a plan in the making in Amsterdam for requirements for events in the city, which everyone must meet for a permit in the future. The film world will eventually be part of that and you will not be allowed to enter the city with your dirty generator. But Amsterdam is a factor 100 bigger than The Hague and that’s why it goes faster there, says Ing Lim. In The Hague it is still just an idea, although this may change with the upcoming municipal elections. Cor explains that Renewi has already started working on requirements in Amsterdam. An event is actually a temporary company that has to deal with the same type of restrictions and permits as businesses. You have to include the recurring factors in your planning, by showing which steps have already been taken. This is now only coming from private initiative, under the heading of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), but that will soon become more of an obligation.
Can you, as a municipality, send a truck to a film set for waste collection? Saskia says that is always possible, but the question is who pays the bill. The situation also differs per city, in Rotterdam everyone can throw something away everywhere, you do not need a pass to access containers. What could be improved, is that if you want to go to a refuse transfer station as an entrepreneur from outside the city, you should be able to use them more easily. Now there are a lot of requirements, for example that you must be registered in Rotterdam. In this scenario the responsibility of separating waste lies with location management. And organic waste can not be delivered at the refuse transfer station.
If you were in charge in The Hague or Rotterdam, what would you change? In The Hague, Ing Lim would like to change that you have to have a pass for everything, there are no open containers now. If that were to be resolved, that would really help. But there is still a long way to go, because he can not decide on administrative matters. But he will certainly indicate it with the help of this evening’s report. According to him, the solution lies with the municipality and not with private waste processors.
From the audience it is suggested that the volume of waste that we generate on the average set is very small and that you can just place it in the nearest underground containers.
But there must be more awareness of abundance: that everything that is brought to the set must also be taken away. We all have to do that individually, to raise that awareness. You should not expect it from the producers. If you ask a random producer about invoices for waste processing, you will see that no payment has been made.
But besides our own responsibility, maybe there should be someone who has the overview? Should it be an incentive from the Film Fund? Tijn Heerkens is certainly for that. Now there is the cash rebate system. And if you would make separated waste 80% or 100% rebatable and if you can not show invoices for waste processing, then you have a problem. So if you just get a large part of Renewi’s invoice back, that is resolved. Or the calculation from Belgium about carpooling of the crew. No more individual transport compensation, but give people an economical rental car. This promotes carpooling and these costs are eligible for the incentive. The knife cuts both ways and the producer can also rent a slightly more expensive hybrid car. There is a role for the Film Fund there.
Other ideas from the audience:
- You can also think at a script level, for example, do you have to talk an hour in a driving car, is it not possible in a park?
- You can also make each department responsible for its own waste. You have to push it back. And the different bags, they can be distributed by production at the crew drink. Then instead of a t-shirt with the title of the film, you get a colored waste bag. Or afterwards at the wrap party you get a bag with the compost of the past few days from the wormhotel.
- Cor adds that you should have a resource director who knows who to talk to in order to solve a problem. You can give the compost that is generated on set as producer to your crew or others. Do not think in waste, but raw material. Green is money!
- Saskia adds that, as a sector, we need to specify our needs more clearly, then she can do something about it in Rotterdam. Do you want generators, power outlets? They can then link this to other activities in the city, such as events. They have all location profiles on the website with all details of what is already there.
- People would like to recharge in the city. This must be possible via the existing car charging system. The solutions for on location are there, for example the GreenBattery, Firefly, Wattsun, the True Hybrid of Het Licht. Tijn wants to invest in those applications. But can the film sector make use of the existing system of the municipality? The conversation must be started, preferably also with someone with the technical know-how. An overview of power points in the city is part of this.
- In addition to the knowledge about facilities at different locations, it is still important that it is also accessible to a crew, because that is often still a problem, because a crew is not a local company.
- Cor promises that he will look into this in the Plantagebuurt in consultation with Simon of the municipality, to find a solution. Els offers to make a film about this in return that the municipality can use to promote itself as sustainable.
- Harm Bredero is on the board of Urban Street Forest, which greens balconies and together with Carbon Karma works on CO2 compensation. Lux en Co, a large lighting company, is their first customer whose entire emissions are compensated by a number of trees on balconies in Amsterdam. Perhaps we can develop a CO2 neutral film set by compensating for what we can not avoid in other ways. Tijn would have liked to know that before! So clearly there is a need for communication and exchange.
- Ing Lim wants to go to the relevant municipalities with the reporting of this meeting and the expressed needs to see what can be done.
Pitches of the working groups
The second part of the evening was especially designed for a more active participation of everyone present and to make good use of all available knowledge. Five moderators pitch a proposal that would be further elaborated in small groups. The outcomes of this can be taken up by Green Film Making for follow-up steps and realization.
Moderator: Tijn Heerkens
Tijn talks about his new invention for the set; the vacuum toilet. Inspired by toilets on airplanes, you need much less water and it is much more pleasant than a Dixi. Normally you need 5 liters of water to flush your toilet. This is only 0.5 liters on a vacuum toilet. You save 10 times as much. Conversely, on an annual basis he saves so much on water and transport that he can drive 2 tankers full of water to Saudi Arabia. He is also always enthusiastic to chat about new materials and thinking how we can do it together. Then something will happen!
Pitch Stichting Buurtcompost
Moderator: Arie van Ziel
Arie has a solution for the film set that speaks to the imagination. In order to work on sustainability, Arie has switched from architecture to composting. Municipalities are faced with the problem of processing organic waste. The Stichting Buurtcompost’s proposal to work with worms and to compost at a neighborhood level simply could not be rejected. Worms have valuable shit and eat everything. And you can use the poo as a compost. In Amsterdam there are already several worm hotels on the streets despite that everyone thought that Amsterdammers do not want to collect organic waste. But people are very enthusiastic about it and are going to empty their buckets in every type of weather. There is now also an underground model. Here the worms thrive better because they are underground. 60 households are disposing in this first underground barrel and now after 1.5 years it is still not emptied! Ordinary containers are emptied once or twice a week with only 30 households. In New York already 600,000 inhabitants compost. Worms eat everything, including paper, so you do not have to do difficult and dirty separation. The compost goes back to the local residents. Is this applicable for the film industry? Maybe a mobile worm hotel that travels with the crew on the set?
Pitch “geld GROEN wassen”
Moderator: Anne Stijkel
If you want to become more sustainable, but you do not have any money, this special loan system is a solution through your customers instead of the bank. Wash Money Green is a concept written from consumer to business. There are already many different places where they have successfully applied it by lending from the customers. For example, farmers who wanted solar panels, succeeded. in exchange your customers receive a credit that they can redeem later. They get more in return. Anne thinks it is certainly applicable to what she has seen and heard here. It is also possible for smaller companies. It is about how you use your own creativity. Els knows that there are questions from caterers to adjust their bus. Would this be a solution for them to finance it?
Pitch: Waste on Set
Moderators: Jurriën de Pijper – Renewi
First the result of tonight’s waste separation test: 75% was organic and coffee, 7% glass and only 3% residual waste. In that respect it was very similar to a film catering waste day. So there is a lot to be done here financially and towards zero waste. Jurrien would like to know how, as Renewi, they can set up a feasible logistics plan for the film industry, enabling them to make waste raw material again. A big challenge for which we can look for solutions together.
Pitch SuperUse: Harvest Map
Moderator: Jos de Krieger
Jos explains first what the architectural firm SuperUse Studios does exactly. They are now working on the development of BlueCity. Their projects are centered around reuse in architecture. For example, they have worked on a playground in Rotterdam made from a discarded wind turbine: ‘Wikado’. The material of a wind turbine can not yet be recycled. They have also developed a Harvest Map for material flows where suppliers and buyers can find each other for materials from different industries. So essentially they are valuable raw materials in the wrong place. This will also happen within the film world. He would like to identify the flows within the film world with his work group and see how a harvest map could be developed.
After this, people split up into smaller work groups with a cup of coffee or tea and a cookie of old bread (!). Participants can choose which group they prefer to join. The pitched proposals will be examined in greater depth with the aim of having concrete plans for the development of further steps for sustainable catering and a sustainable film sector.
Conclusions and Future Plans
At the end of the evening, the moderators briefly summarize what has emerged from their groups and the participants vote on which proposal has priority.
Tijn Heerkens and his group concluded that the knowledge is already there. Everything turns out to be just a few phone calls away. The problems are relatively simple. The harvest map is very important. A caterer wondered whether the toilets could not be flushed with waste water. Others want to do a trial with water filtering. If there are more caterers who want to, they can try it out together. Renewi already has waste trucks, so this needs to be discussed further with Cor. Let’s do it together. There is a lot of enthusiasm! Great that he now knows that Harm can also make his buses CO2 neutral. And this is exactly his proposal for a follow-up step: We need a platform. You need to know who might have a part of your solution. Green Film Making can expand the website with a platform to exchange knowledge. And there must be crowdfunding for Green Film Making. Because we have to do it ourselves, with an investment construction like Wash Money Green and not being dependent on subsidy schemes. Who is in favor of a digital platform and harvest map? = Almost everyone.
Anne Stijkel was pleased by the contact with a large film producer who wanted to talk about investing in their suppliers. The big players have an important key, because they rent everything. If such a player says that they want to become green, he can demand it from all suppliers. Then all small suppliers can become green. Do we have the key? = Medium response.
In the group of Jurrien of Renewi mainly two things were discussed. Firstly, logistics, that is still a big polluter. And secondly the waste. The packages that come to the set are important to note when purchasing. And the collection of waste must be improved. It is difficult to apply exactly to the set. A distinction must be made between the types of film set; small, medium and large. Renewi wants to run pilots to test this. Which productions are good for a zero waste pilot? And who wants to join us in the expedition with his production towards zero waste ?: Quite a lot.
Arie van Stichting Buurtcompost says that there really is a chance for the film world with composting. That does not necessarily have to be done with worms, there are other ways. The challenge with composting lies with the municipality to create a well-distributed network. He would like to encourage the people working in a municipality to push this in their municipalities. So that we can dispose things everywhere. In Amsterdam there is already a waiting list of one year for worm hotels, there is so much enthusiasm. So they are now working hard to roll out in other smaller municipalities (Groningen, Delft and Lelystad). Nice anecdote, with New Years Eve their container was the only one that was not blown up with fireworks. Vandals are still kind to worms. But they need more capacity, if someone wants to work with worms, welcome! Aries’s question is: who wants to try to process waste locally in his next production and to compost everything you take on set? A lot of enthusiasm. It does not necessarily have to be worms, it can also be a different system to apply to a specific situation. Applying locally is best. This also applies to the proposal of the mobile worm hotel: You do not have to drag it back and forth, but always solve it locally.
Jos van SuperUse says his group talked about a number of streams. Their conclusion is that the most important thing is to link the future harvest map to a platform. So sharing knowledge: electric cars, compost bins, etc. Almost everyone is for. SuperUse can deliver the framework based on what they already have as harvest map, but the input must come from the sector. Content must come from the film professionals.
And that was the end of the inspiring evening. But nobody went home without a drink from Green Film Making, a mushroom snack from Rotterzwam and a bite of cricket hummus from Burgs Foods! The lively talks continued and the sustainable market kept running at full speed. Again it was a very successful workshop, thanks very much to everyone for their presence and input!
The most important points at a glance:
- There is a need for a special platform for knowledge exchange facilitated by Green Film Making.
- There is also a need for a Harvest Map/ Material Map linked to this, which provides insight into various things such as energy, waste and products, where it can be collected or brought. SuperUse is prepared to work on this, if the industry provides the input.
- Green Film Making has to be financed to make this possible, for example by a member system or by Wash Money Green.
- We would like an incentive with subsidies that requires to work sustainability.
- A proposal could be submitted by the film commissioners to their municipalities to request a pass for access to the waste disposal system, wherever possible.
- And also a proposal to gain access to the charging network for electric cars.
- Renewi is calling for productions willing to participate in a pilot for a zero waste set. Who wants to?
- If Renewi ensures that a pilot can be run at a sector in Amsterdam, Green Film Making promises to make a video report of this.
- Request from Stichting Buurtcompost: Who wants to try to process waste locally in their next production and to compost everything you take with you?
- As a substantial customer, big producers have the key to invest in making suppliers more sustainable.
- The initiative of Harm Bredero Urban Street Forest can make productions CO2 neutral by planting trees on balconies.
If you want to take charge or join one of the above initiatives, give us a shout! Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All pictures are made by Dorien Grötzinger.