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Report Back To The City Of Toronto On The Screen-based Industry Consultation, “Approaches To Reduce Single-Use Plastic And Takeaway Items”

Report Back to the City of Toronto on the Screen-based Industry Consultation, “Approaches to Reduce Single-Use Plastic and Takeaway Items”

Post Series: Circular Economy
  • 1.Report Back to the City of Toronto on the Screen-based Industry Consultation, “Approaches to Reduce Single-Use Plastic and Takeaway Items”

The following is Sustainable Media Production Canada’s letter, submitted to the City of Toronto as part of the public consultation on reducing single-use plastic and takeaway items.

Thank you for the opportunity to share the results of Sustainable Media Production Canada’s screen-based Industry Consultation, Approaches to Reduce Single-Use Plastic and Takeaway Items. Sustainable Media Production Canada is the only not-for-profit organization in Canada focused solely on improving the environmental performance of the film, television and digital media production industry.

More than 1,400 productions shoot in Toronto every year. Considered a significant economic driver for the City of Toronto, the film, television and digital media industry employs 30,000 people locally. The Toronto-based film industry is setting records for the amount of production taking place and is poised for explosive growth, making waste reduction an area of interest.

Many industry professionals are already working to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic, including but not limited to the items targeted in the City of Toronto’s public consultation. Sustainable Media Production Canada’s Consultation included meetings and interviews with Toronto-based production professionals, outreach to craft service and catering companies, and a survey. Our organization promoted the public consultation, provided formal and informal opportunities to engage with the Industry Consultation, and asked respondents about their level of interest in continuing to engage on this issue.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Participants felt strongly about the topic, wanted to learn something new about this issue, and wanted to take action. Here’s what we heard:

• Participants were keen to “green up” the industry. One respondent said, “I’d like to see an industry mandate on this.” Another said, “If all productions take action [on reducing waste on set], then change will result.”

• There are ample opportunities for waste reduction in the industry.

• Black plastic, water bottles and food waste were all cited as areas for improvement. By focusing on these areas, it was believed that the industry can achieve an overall reduction in single-use plastic and help the City of Toronto meet its waste reduction targets.

• The proposed implementation schedule received a great deal of support.

Participants felt that the City of Toronto should be commended for looking at other jurisdiction’s policies. Here’s what we heard:

• The Vancouver film industry is seen to be making great strides toward environmental improvement; policymakers are encouraged to look carefully at Vancouver’s regulations and policies to ensure the City of Toronto isn’t falling behind on single-use plastic and other areas

• B.C.-based film professionals use Toronto-based services to reduce their waste; awareness of local solution providers will be useful for boosting local industry waste reduction and diversion rates

• Learning about federal, provincial and municipal changes to recycling/waste management is important to drive the business case for waste reduction.

There was a lively discussion on the tools needed to achieve success on environmental initiatives in the film industry. Here’s what we heard:

• Overwhelmingly agreement that the proposed approaches would encourage the industry to reduce the use of the proposed items

• The vast majority of respondents felt that legislation and regulation is an appropriate tool to drive environmental improvement; so are voluntary programs

• The industry is cost-sensitive; education is needed to communicate cost-saving opportunities

• Pilot projects are useful to understand the costs and barriers of implementing environmental initiatives

• Municipal recycling requirements vary by jurisdiction; aligning requirements will help service providers

• Financial tools such as incentives and tax credits are useful to drive environmental benefits.

In addition, the following is needed to successfully implement the proposed bylaws and measures:

• Education, training, and “support from the top”. One respondent indicated “Education is needed to show the impact, cost analysis and best methods of increasing environmental/social sustainability.”

• Better products and services will help the industry to implement waste reduction measures

• Case studies. Said a respondent: “Some industry leaders show how impactful changes can be made. It’s a re-education [for the rest of us] to see how change can be done without impacting productivity & the bottom line.”

Respondents appreciated the chance to weigh in on the approaches. “[The most valuable part of the consultation for me was] sharing ideas, info and inspiration,”“listening to other’s concerns and perspectives on single use plastics,” “connecting with people after the event on how to further our efforts together,” “and “timing [of the proposed implementation].” Respondents are overwhelmingly committed to supporting the proposed measures and bylaws during the implementation period.


Sarah Margolius, President,

Sustainable Media Production Canada


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