perma collective

Produce No Waste

Written by Jessica Gage
Reduce No Waste

Perma Collective was inspired by the principle of Permaculture, whereby growth takes place in a self-sufficient and sustainable way because of ‘whole system thinking’. Elements aren’t considered individually, but as a part of a bigger, interlinked system. It’s a principle that mirrors the evolution of nature and ecosystems. A circular, interlinked, sustainable system.

Apply it to production and this means working consciously. Looking at each activity or behaviour as a part of the whole, with potential for impact up and downstream. We need to understand what this impact is and how it relates to the goal of self-sufficiency and sustainability. 

A great example of this is our on-set waste management. It’s easy to forget the waste once it’s put in the bin. Out of sight out of mind. But working consciously means thinking about not only whether there was a way of preventing that item from going into the bin in the first place (could it have been replaced with a reusable option? Was it necessary?), but also what happens to that item beyond going into the bin (where does it go? How is it processed? How can we ensure it doesn’t end up in landfill?).

It is important to us that we’re able to answer these questions. So we need transparent waste partners who are not only able to explain to us what happens to our waste, but can ensure that the waste generated by our projects is recycled, repurposed or anaerobically digested (food waste) where possible, and only where essential, incinerated to generate electricity for local use. Nothing should end up in landfill. 

First Mile and EcoShoots are both able to offer us this transparency and commitment, and GripVan, our tech partner, are able to manage the waste on behalf of First Mile, which reduces the number of collections needed and therefore related transport emissions. 

Done properly, waste is straightforward to manage on set. We have three bins. General Waste, Mixed Recycling and Food Waste. Each has a clear poster that uses infographics to explain what goes into that bin to make it easier for busy people on set, and we’re on hand to guide anyone that still isn’t sure. 

Post shoot, the General Waste is sorted to remove recyclables before being safely incinerated to generate electricity. Mixed Recycling is recycled. And food waste goes to make renewable energy via an anaerobic digester. Sent to landfill, food waste would release methane, which is 23 times more damaging to the environment than CO2. [1]

Ahead of the downstream processing of created waste, our goal is to reduce the amount of waste produced in the first place. 

So to look upstream. We work hard to minimise on set waste created by asking everyone on set to bring a reusable water bottle, keepcup and cutlery with them. 

Caterers provide food in reusable, compostable or recyclable containers, and food waste is minimised by limiting options and providing accurate numbers. 

We converse with our Art department to ensure all materials brought to set can be repurposed or donated, and props and garments are owned, hired or reused afterwards. 

We operate a digital workflow, so the absolute minimal printing is required, and all signage is reused. This all relies on working with our brilliant team of suppliers and crew, who have aligned values and are happy to prioritise sustainability.

Realistically most of these are simple shifts in behaviour that when combined have a huge collective impact. 

Our tips for reducing the impact of your on set waste are…

1. Ask questions

What are you throwing away? Did you need to? Could you have reused something? Did you need to buy it in the first place? What happens to your waste?

2. Get a green waste partner

Make sure whoever is processing your waste has a zero to landfill policy and can tell you how they process all of your waste. 

3. Make it simple

Make it easy for busy people on set to do the right thing. Don’t give them too many options and provide graphic signage that clearly shows what goes where.

Jessica Gage
Our Carbon Queen