When you see a Subaru commercial on TV, you can bet it was created under the greenest possible guidelines. To do so, we often work with a company called EcoSet. It plots out a turnkey, green plan for the shoot and oversees its execution. Essentially, the shoot becomes a “zero-waste” set, which means that 90 percent or more of the production’s discards are kept out of a landfill through recycling, composting or reuse.
Founded in 2008, EcoSet partners with large companies to minimize the environmental footprint of their advertising productions. The Los Angeles-based company advises waste-prevention practices, oversees the zero-waste set practices, facilitates the reuse and repurposing of discarded production materials, and advocates the use of renewable energy technology.
“We create an environment on set where everyone can make responsible choices and use resources more efficiently as we work hard to redefine the word ‘trash’ in the minds of the film crews we work with,” EcoSet executive director Kris Barberg said.
EcoSet’s zero-waste systems align with the Subaru zero-landfill manufacturing process and reduce the impact behind the scenes of our advertising productions. In one year of partnering over seven commercial shoots, Subaru and EcoSet kept 4.8 tons of materials from California landfills. That’s nearly the weight of three Foresters!
Here’s the breakdown:
- 90.7 percent of our total discards were diverted from landfills; that’s 9,612 pounds of the 10,592 pounds discarded
- 36.4 percent (3,859 pounds) of materials were composted
- 42.4 percent (4,491 pounds) were recycled
- 11.9 percent (1,262 pounds) were repurposed
Up to half of the discards on an average production can be related to food service, including plate waste, disposable products, and beverage containers. A significant component to waste diversion is composting all of the food waste, soiled paper, and plant-based disposable products. These are used in place of petroleum-based plastic and Styrofoam™.
Another basic practice having a large impact is the use of water refilling stations and stainless-steel water bottles by crew members rather than single-use plastic bottles. On a shoot without sustainable practices, an average production discards 300 or more plastic bottles each day – many of them still full of water and forgotten by busy crew.
In seven Subaru shoots, we avoided the purchase of an estimated 6,000-plus plastic bottles. This dramatically reduced the volume of discards that needed to be managed and also promoted the mindset of reuse. The stainless-steel bottles will continue to be used by production members in their daily lives for years to come.
Throughout production, EcoSet works to prevent waste from being created, recycles and composts the materials that are used, and rescues valuable material that would have been destined for the dumpster.
EcoSet’s Eco Crew sorts the discards for proper diversion. Nothing is overlooked, right down to the custom signage, burlap scraps, plywood, wooden beams, fabric, foam core, and set lighting expendables.
Castoffs are recirculated into the community for reuse – 179 tons to date!
To make the reuse process more efficient, EcoSet opened a community resource center called The Oasis in Los Angeles where nonprofits, artists, theaters, schools, and individuals can receive materials at no cost.
On two different “Share the Love” productions, Subaru was able to extend the goodwill of the advertising message by donating the remaining wardrobe and props to nonprofits. Even now, long after the ads have aired, these donations impact organizations, families, and individuals.
At a baby-themed donation event in March, six different groups received baby items and toys from two Subaru shoots – 2014 Subaru Forester “Backseat Anthem” and “Re-Dressing Room.”
“In Los Angeles, there is a high demand for infant and children’s car seats, especially new products. We love being the bridge between the items used briefly in the filming process and nonprofits that greatly need them,” Barberg said.
On a 16-day shoot filmed in Los Angeles and northern California, 4,521 pounds of materials were diverted from local waste streams.
“It’s gratifying to be doing our work in beautiful natural locations where Subaru ads are filmed, as well as aligning with Subaru’s initiatives to protect the environment,” Barberg added.
Subaru is thrilled to help set new standards for commercial production sustainability. We look forward to finding alternatives to landfills and focusing on reuse opportunities. From our experience, it’s clear that when people are given information and access to these materials, one production’s trash is truly the community’s treasure.