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Post Post-Production

Hollywood Now Recycles More Than Just Script Ideas

March 25, 2001|BILL SHARPSTEEN

For years, Hollywood's only involvement with recycling was the occasional sequel. Once a movie finished shooting, the sets, full of reusable wood and other materials, typically went straight to the landfill.

Then came the state's 1989 Integrated Waste Management Act, which mandated that by 2000, California cities had to divert 50% of their waste from landfills. The studios had to find a way to reuse old sets, furniture, paint, videotape and lots of office paper.

Hollywood's eight major studios formed the Solid Waste Task Force, which in 1999 (the most recent figures available) helped divert 34,382 tons of studio waste--64% of their total--from local landfills. In the same year, the city of Los Angeles reported a 49% reduction (since 1989) in waste to the dump.

As Warner Bros. director of recycling and environmental initiatives, Shelley Billik says her studio now recycles about 80% of its sets, paper and other waste, encourages the use of steel instead of wood and long before the state's ongoing energy crunch had been finding ways to cut back on energy consumption, including painting the roofs of studio buildings with reflective paint to cut down on air-conditioning costs.

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How much material do you truck out each day?

About 17 tons. This includes greens from landscaping, wood, paper, cardboard, and so forth.

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Is there stuff that can't be recycled?

If someone throws out their old sandwich, it's not going to get recycled. Well, I suppose it could get composted.

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Are there recycling schemes you've tried that didn't succeed?

We tried taking used lumber to Mexico. But you need a whole crew just to take apart the two-by-fours from the plywood, remove the nails, sort out what can and cannot be reused, load it onto trucks. Then you have the transportation and driving it across the border. It just wasn't cost-effective.

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Of what are you most proud?

The studio's new sustainable-design policy for permanent structures. [That makes] them green buildings, which means very energy efficient, materials that have recycled content, few materials that have toxic components.

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Are there materials you have a hard time recycling?

The costume department or the prop department will [sometimes] come up with something really bizarre that we want to find a home for. [For example] we got some big barrels. And barrels are very hard to reuse because if you can't exactly prove what was in them before . . . they might have held hazardous waste. This one organization said they needed some floating piers in Costa Rica. And they ended up taking all of these barrels for that.

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