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Industry Likes Being Green

2 Apr, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

LOS ANGELES — The program was made out of recycled paper, the ID badges were made of biodegradable materials and the gift bags for attendees were made of recycled billboards at the first ever home entertainment Green Media Summit April 2. Even one of the speakers helped to make the affair a carbon-neutral event, by not showing up.

“Me presenting by telephone is very good for my carbon footprint,” said Zoe Riddell, VP of the Carbon Disclosure Project USA. “My only greenhouse gas emissions are from my breathing.”

Numerous studio executives, DVD packaging representatives, and environmental experts hammered the point home: The home media industry can reduce its environmental impact in ways both large and small, and it doesn't have to be difficult.

The event was sponsored by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and the Entertainment Supply Chain Academy. Video Business was a media sponsor, with Green sponsors including Global Releaf and Hollywood Green Team.

“Eco-friendly is more than just a catch-all phrase,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of the DEG and president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. “It's a commitment to think outside the box, be that box corrugate, plastic or paper.”

Every speaker agreed: From identifying waste along the DVD supply chain, to simple housekeeping at the studios — more efficient lighting, better building insulation, more recycling — being environmentally aware should be a part of the core business strategy in home entertainment.

Going green is a popular theme across the business world, according to Dan Esty, a professor of environmental law at Yale University, and director of the Yale Center of Environmental Law and Policy. He said the changes in corporate attitudes are both appropriate and timely, since the government is setting fewer rules and instead focusing more on punishment for the worst environmental offenders. That's because most large corporations have figured out that saving the environment is in their own best interest, he said.

“The environment has become a strategic issue, a front-burner issue,” Esty said.

He said that any company's green efforts have to start at the top with the CEO before they can show results.

“The risk for you all is that as an industry, you'll be seen as not doing enough,” he said, adding that people won't pick a Disney DVD over one from Sony due to who released it. “You're an example where you all rise or fall together.”

Along those lines, representatives from both Disney and Universal Studios called for industry-wide standards for reducing the industry's carbon footprint.

“More than half of our supply chain is energy use,” said Larry Wilk, VP of worldwide operations for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

Disney began studying the impact of its DVDs on the environment in 2006, with the goal of reducing its waste output by 25% in 10 years. Currently, 34% of the studio's carbon footprint from DVD can be found in the manufacturing and assembly process. The studio found that one DVD puts out 1.1 pounds of CO2, or the amount of impact one car has on the environment after driving one mile, Wilk said. But when you're talking about 300 million DVDs, he added, the impact is the same as nearly 35,000 cars on the road in a year.

Less plastic in packaging, less paper for the DVDs, and fewer shipments are easy ways to reduce a DVD's carbon footprint, Wilk said. Going green ultimately saves money as well, he added.

“At the very end of the day, you understand green is good for your business,” said Lauren Zalaznick, chairwoman of NBC Universal's Green Council and president of Bravo Media and Oxygen Media. “And everywhere you look, there's something that can be done better.”

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