Thursday, February 22, 2024

SAG-AFTRA and MPA Join ‘Green Hollywood’ With New Council

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The Screen Actors Guild and Motion Picture Association are joining forces to make film production more sustainable with the launch of the Green Council Initiative.

While scripted film and television productions are indefinitely paused due to the Writers Guild of America strike that started earlier this week, one area of the entertainment industry is picking up speed: environmental commitments.

Last week, policymakers, media representatives, NGO advisors, and members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), convened at the Motion Picture Association in Washington, D.C., to officially launch the Green Council Initiative.

The effort is aimed at championing environmentally responsible entertainment. Spearheaded by SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, the initiative’s primary objective is to minimize single-use plastic in production settings, on-screen portrayals, and in consumer households, while encouraging the use and depiction of reusable alternatives.

hollywood sign
Courtesy James Hartono | Unsplash

The Green Council’s founding members include Drescher, along with Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Diane Keaton, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Salma Hayek, Gloria Estefan, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosario Dawson, Billy Porter, Aida Rodriguez, Jason Momoa, Rachel Bloom, Chris Colfer, David Dastmalchian, and Ellen Crawford.

Drescher announced the official launch of the Green Council during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington DC, last week. “Tonight, the entertainment industry unites for the greater good in solidarity,” she said. “We recognize that our industry is unique in its ability to shape culture, shift paradigms, and influence audiences worldwide. To that end, tonight we inaugurate the Green Council.”

MPA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin underscored the significance of the initiative, noting that the industry has a rich history of engaging and educating audiences and, “at critical moments, effecting much-needed societal change,” he said.

“The Green Council will build on this legacy, inspiring audiences to embrace environmentally responsible entertainment and conveying the vital message that everyone has a part to play in safeguarding and preserving our planet.”

The Initiative was first announced back in February during the Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Drescher unveiled the effort’s first mission, “an honor system to eliminate single-use plastic, on camera, behind the scenes, and leveraging star power to challenge audiences around the world to do the same,” she said.

According to a 2019 Producers Guild Green Report, a film production that lasts 60 days can go through approximately 39,000 single-use water bottles.

Jennifer Lynch, Senior VP of Corporate Social Responsibility and Internal Communications at Paramount Pictures told The Hollywood Reporter that there’s a misconception that single-use plastic water bottles are a cheaper cost-saving, “but that’s not the case,” she said. “On Top Gun: Maverick, we eliminated over 30,000 single-use plastic water bottles from the waste stream by using water filtration systems and refillable canteens. According to our sustainability report, this saved us thousands of dollars. So the belief that a sustainable set is more expensive is inherently flawed.”

The Green Council launch comes amid a swell of efforts to green-up Hollywood.

Last October, the Plastic Pollution Coalition and actor Ed Begley Jr. launched the Begley-Cohen Test aimed at removing plastic on and off the screen of film and television productions.

Brad Pitt drinks a smoothie through a plastic straw in 2008's 'Burn After Reading'
Brad Pitt drinks a smoothie through a plastic straw in 2008’s ‘Burn After Reading’

HBO, Sony, and Amazon are also increasing eco-efforts. The recent HBO Green effort aims to reduce carbon footprints and adopt sustainable practices across all productions, with a particular focus on HBO and HBO Max scripted fiction shows. The program features six areas of focus: fuel, energy, waste, materials, community, and on-screen practices.

Series including Euphoria, Succession, and White Lotus, are committed to following the HBO Green program no matter where they’re filming in the world.

The initiative is prioritizing reducing fuel emissions by choosing utility power or batteries over generators. The program is also working to offset emissions via non-profit partners. Other sustainability efforts including refillable water bottles, on-site composting, plant-based meals, and EVs.

Sony Group has been working on sustainability efforts since launching its Road to Zero plan in 2010 — aiming for a zero environmental footprint by 2050, net zero by 2040, and carbon neutrality by 2030. The plan centers around promoting biodiversity, resource conservation, which includes the elimination of single-use plastics, and carbon and climate initiatives centered on sustainable productions. The studio says since 2012, around 75 percent of its shows have achieved “sustainable production status.”

Amazon Studios’ $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund invests in startups that it says are working to help decarbonize its productions. It’s working with a mobile energy storage product and technology company, Moxion to compost on set and use solar vehicles.

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