The days of single-use plastic products are numbered. To stop the worldwide flood of plastics into the oceans, disposable plastic tableware will be banned in the EU start- ing in July 2021. As for catering on film sets, it is no longer possible to use plastic plates and tableware. But disposable tableware made from biodegradable or bio-based plas- tics, advertised as environmentally friendly, sustainable, or 100 percent compostable, often has a life cycle assessment no better than fossil fuel-based plastics.
According to the DIN EN 13432 standard, products are compostable if at least 90 percent of the material breaks down into parts smaller than two millimeters within a twelve-week period. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that these plastics are biodegradable either in the environment or in home composting. Oxo-degradable plastics decompose into fragments and remain as microplastic in the environment. Among the biodegradable plastics is PLA, but there are also bio-based plastics made from renewable materials such as bam- boo, palm leaf, and sugar cane, whose cultivation and processing require a great deal of land and water consumption, the use of pesticides, and transportation, which also leaves a high carbon footprint.
The EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive fosters sustainable business models, reuse possibilities, and surrogate materials. An innovative solution has been created by the Hamburg-based company Bio-Lutions, which is using agricultural plant waste to manufacture eco-friendly single-use products that contain no chemical additives or binders. After the opening of their first factory in India, this patented process will also be introduced in Germany. In the 1,800-square-meter production facility in Brandenburg, compostable packaging made from regional agriculture waste products such as colza and wheat straw, hemp and hop will roll off the line.
During this upcycling procedure, plant waste is processed into extremely fine fibers. Self-binding microfibrillated fibers emerge, and by adding water they condense into a fibrous pulp, which, under the application of heat, can be pressed into multifaceted forms. “We don’t use any chemicals or additives, which is a common practice in the wood pulp industry to produce fibrous material”, says Eduardo Gordillo, CEO of Bio-Lutions. “Therefore, we’re saving precious resources as well as establishing an ecologically friendly manufacturing process.“
Thanks to a special coating, this material can contain liquids and it is heat resistant. “Initially, we’re starting with one product line at the Schwedt location in Brandenburg.” In the first six months, half of its 6,000-ton capacity for finished product per year will be utilized, which comes down to producing 140 million units of fruit and vegetable packaging per year. One of the next steps will be to begin producing single-use tableware suitable for catering and film production. For Bio-Lutions, composting means home composting. „This is the supreme discipline“, emphasizes Gordillo, “because materials have to decompose without the introduction of either heat or bacteria in six months’ time.”
“The time for half-measures and climate denial is over. Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our children, grandchildren and future generations. If we’re going to avoid the worst of the impacts, then we’ve just got to act boldly. And we must act immediately."
Actor, Director, Producer, Environmentalist
"The media has a powerful role to play in the fight against climate change. Through films, television, and all media outlets, we must continue to deliver the message that solutions are out there and are happening now. We have to make it attractive for people to take action. Movies like Avatar, The Day After Tomorrow, and documentaries like Years of Living Dangerously, which I was proud to be a part of, have been very popular, reaching and inspiring millions of people. And I believe films in particular can really inspire and make people want to take action. It’s great to see some of my film-industry friends working with climate related organizations to push forward those messages."
„It‘s high time to reorganize film production in Germany in a ‚greener‘ and more sustainable way. So far, I am flabbergasted by how much our industry works in environmentally harmful ways.To this very day, it starts with until today one-sided print-outs of scripts, and then it continues with plastic bottles in production offices and lots of plastic waste with every catered meal, and it doesn‘t stop with the limousines that pull up to a red carpet.
For many years, people have sneered at me when I brought my own cup or I declined to eat cheap meat served on paper or plastic plates with plastic knives and forks. It would be great if the Green Shooting Card could change all that.“
Director (Ben X, Time of My Life)
„It’s absolutely great that filmmakers all over the world are trying to clean up their act, and are trying to film as sustainable as we possibly can. Still, I think we shouldn’t underestimate the incredible power of the moving image to also change the hearts and minds of people.
So, apart from trying to be more environmentally aware in our business, I think the big gain lies in how we might make everyone more environmentally aware. Yes, cinema can change the world.
I think filmmakers should start using the powerful weapon in our hands that is the camera.
Let’s not only try to do ‘less bad’. Let’s try to do right, and help drive the change that we all know needs to arrive.“
“We are living in a time in which we can’t afford to behave irresponsibly towards nature. The more important is it that film productions try to work as environmentally friendly as possible. A film team produces every day tons of garbage. I try to avoid using plastic cups on set, I bring my own cup, use ecofriendly cosmetics and avoid needless single rides.”
Photo ® Maddalena Arosio
Darren Aronofsky, Director, Noah / Jury President, 65th Berlin International Film Festival
“When we did Noah we knew we were making a film about the first steward of the earth, so we wanted to be good stewards ourselves. There’s so much waste on film sets. Because of groups like Earth Angel, we were able to change that a little bit.”
"As a TV and film producer I try to incorporate environmental storylines into my projects as much as possible. But it’s just as important, if not more, to ‚go green‘ behind the scenes! Therefore, I help run the Producers Guild of America’s Green Initiative.
We provide resources such as a Best Practices and a Carbon Calculator to help producers green their productions. We also partnered with all the major studios to create www.greenproductionguide.com which is a free green vendor database with over 2,000 vendors offering sustainable production solutions worldwide!"
Producer, Director and Visual Effects Supervisor (2001: A Space Odysee, Blade Runner)
"Trumbull Studios in Massachusetts is dedicated to being green as much as possible, including the use of LED lighting, solar power, and solar laptops. This is not just because our location has limited amperage and no three-phase, we believe we have a responsibility to our community and our planet to be a clean industry.
We are planning for digital photography in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second from remote and inaccessible locations that will not have available power. Solar is the way to go."
Dieter Kosslick, Director Berlin International Film Festival
„The Berlinale is already actively addressing the sustainability subject since years. We appreciate it very much that a growing number of filmmakers, among them this year‘s jury presiden Darren Aranofsky, is following green guidelines on set.“
Director of Photography (A Most Wanted Man)
‘I never have been told precisely what the rules are for shooting a green movie, but we are trying to do it. This is something new for me. Sometimes people overlight scenes at night. I don’t. If I can see with my own eyes, then it is enough for the film. In that sense I am a green DoP.’
Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons who stars in the Berlinale Competition entry The Night Train To Lisbon is a fan of source segregated recycling. „Especially in Germany you have done a lot for that. You are examplary in the matter of waste separation.“
The Hollywood actor travelled around the world to promote the environmntal documentary feature film Trashed by Candida Brady which deals with the global garbage problem: „We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it“, says Brady. „With Jeremy Irons as our guide, we discover what happens to the billion or so tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year.“
Since the world premiere at the International Cannes Film Festival in 2012 Trashed picked up various nominations and awards at international festivals.